on June 24, 2004
Well, Julie Andrews DOES bare herself in this movie--which is why some may first want to see it--but this film by her real life husband Blake Edwards (who also brought us The Pink Panther) does have some other very good qualities. The trouble is that the film-and the DVD itself--also have some potentially bad points.
On the bright side, we are treated to excellent performances by some very talented people including Julie Andrews, Richard Mulligan, William Holden, Loretta Swit, Larry Hagman--and more! These actors really worked! The story is comparatively simple: in Hollywood, director Felix Farmer makes a terrific flop of a movie and despite his many previous successes in true Hollywood style the studio, his wife (Julie Andrews) and everyone else are abandoning him. Yes, as another reviewer points out, some people in Hollywood try to shield them from reporters and publicity backlash--but they really don't succeed. Felix tries four times to kill himself until he realizes if they re-shoot the film as some type of pornography flick it will make millions and be the biggest money making film of all time. Everyone is afraid at first of taking the gamble; but they see Felix's idea may just well be right and then they all jump on the bandwagon in a brazen and crude greedy rush. When the film makes it even Felix thinks gleefully of the money it will make as he dies a premature death! The film therefore really lashes out at Hollywood greed and backstabbing. A good reminder to us all of how NOT to behave in life! The characters rush around so deeply concerned about money and JUST money that the film illustrates very sharply how shallow, greedy and cruel Hollywood "people" can be.
Then there are the potentially bad points. I say they are potentially bad because not everyone will think they are bad! The film does go downhill a bit because of Edwards' heavy reliance on slapstick to make the film funny. There are, as another reviewer points out, very few exciting extras on this DVD. I agree that it would have been great to have Julie Andrews discussing the scene where she bares her chest as well as her thoughts about the movie in general. An interview with Blake Edwards himself would also have been a really interesting extra.
All in all, this is a movie noteworthy for its attack on Hollywood politics, greed, corruption, game playing manipulation and shallowness. The actors worked their tushies off, too! I was impressed with their fine effort. The humor is fairly good, about a B+ in quality--although if you like slapstick (which is perfectly fine, of course!) then the humor grade goes higher. Nevertheless, the sound quality could definitely be better and there are few extras, however, so I give this DVD four stars.
on June 5, 2003
Blake Edwards's filmography is quite impressive. This is the man who brought us the Pink Panther films, The Great Race, Victor/Victoria, and 10. Edwards was the king of the 1970s, creating films that blended adult themes with memorably comedic moments. The filmmaker carried this approach into the early 1980s with S.O.B., a black comedy about the backbiting, cynical world that is Hollywood. This 1981 film fields some heavy hitters in its cast: William Holden, Richard Mulligan, Robert Vaughn, Julie Andrews, Robert Preston, Larry Hagman, Loretta Swit, Robert Webber, Stuart Margolin, Shelley Winters, and Robert Loggia all play parts, both big and small, in this movie. Look for a young Rosanna Arquette as one of the hitchhikers Culley (William Holden) picks up on the highway.
S.O.B. is a movie within a movie. Felix Farmer, played with brilliant alacrity by the late Richard Mulligan, never lost money on a picture until "Nightwind" came out starring his wife Sally Miles (Julie Andrews). Now Felix is on the outs with his studio head David Blackman (Robert Vaughn), his wife is divorcing him, and he just tried to kill himself. Since this is Hollywood, a whole host of publicists, agents, and advisors try to shield Felix and Sally from the critical backlash. As Felix stumbles around his beach house in a dazed stupor, his friends Tim Culley, Dr. Irving Finegarten (Robert Preston), and publicist Ben Coogan (Robert Webber) all arrive on the scene to lend a hand. Nothing seems to bring Felix out of his funk until he arrives at the realization that the only way to save his career is to reshoot his stinker by having wife Sally, who is a G-rated film queen, bare her all. When it looks like Felix might be on to something, everyone jumps on the bandwagon to make a buck or take some credit for the success.
I had hopes that this film was as funny as it was when I first saw it in the mid 1980s. It isn't, but there are still some great performances along the way. Mulligan is electricity as Farmer, adding even more gusto to his character here then he did as Bert Campbell in "Soap." Holden always does a good job as the weary soul that must witness the slow decay of those around him. Preston is great too as Finegarten, whipping out one-liners with great aplomb. The problem I had with the film is that it is almost too sad to watch it. Here are all these great actors giving one last gasp before passing into the great beyond. S.O.B. was Holden's last film, made before he hit his head and bled to death during a drunken binge. Preston died a few years later from lung cancer, and Mulligan died in 2000 from colon cancer. It is difficult, nay impossible, to forget this as you watch the film. The habits of the characters do not make it easier, either. Holden actually plays a drunk in the film, so knowing that he was one in real life makes it a tad painful to see it here played for laughs.
Another problem more noticeable with repeated viewings years later is the schizophrenia of the film. Edwards starts out with a bang, introducing the characters and establishing their quirky traits. After Felix buys the rights to "Nightwind," however, the movie morphs into a farce with slapstick elements. The latter half of the film still delivers laughs (Felix's last words concern bringing in another ten million at the box office, hardly what a normal person would think during their last seconds of life), but it doesn't mesh as well with the scathing first half. Add to this a mediocre DVD transfer, with some haziness and sunburns on people who shouldn't have them, and this adds up to a good, not great, film.
I would have liked to see more extras on this film. While Holden, Preston, and Mulligan are dead and therefore unavailable for comment, Julie Andrews and Blake Edwards are still alive and could have contributed many insights on a commentary track. Hearing Andrews discuss her topless scene would have been worth the price of the movie in and of itself. As it stands, there is a filmography of Blake Edwards plus the trailer for the film and that is about it in the way of treats. Taken as a whole, S.O.B. falls strictly into the "rent, not buy" category.
on November 2, 2003
And I don't mean her bared chest. S. O. B. was Blake Edwards's attempt to get his own back after the failure of his film DALING LILI over a decade previously: in this film, a director (Richard Mulligan) has a complete nervous breakdown after his film starrign his famously wholesome movie star wife (Julie Andrews) fails at the box office: he tries to recoup his losses by reshooting the film as a softporn fantasia with his wife baring her breasts.
This film was considered wildly funny satire at the time of its release but has aged less well than you might expect. The Lew Wasserman-style Hollywood Edwards mocks was already on its way out when this movie was made in 1981: it reflects the Hollywood of the 1970s much more than the blockbuster-driven Hollywood that was already taking its place. Most of the actors (particularly Robert Preston, Robert Vaughan, and Loretta Swit as a shrieking harpy of a gossip columnist) seem to be having the time of their lives. Julie Andrews isn't very good in her scene throwing an Oscar at Mulligan, and she may wear the most hideous clothes ever in this film, but she redeems not only her performance but almost the entire movie when Preston has to make her high to ensure she can do her breatbearing scene: she's really, really funny whooping it up.
on February 3, 2003
I've heard several criticisms of this film for years that, as much as I love this movie, really can't be argued with.
The first is that the main character really isn't a main character: Felix Farmer, the desperate-then-demented producer (played by the great Richard Mulligan) who first appears in wordless attempts at suicide and brief manic scenes before he's dispatched from the movie (and the world).
The other criticism is that the film is "uneven." I think the reason for that is that S.O.B., after assembling a caustic, hilarious ensemble of tinsel town sleazebags, then finds a heart with Farmer's real friends when they try to provide him with a "real" funeral--as opposed to the hypocritical circus Hollywood gives him.
So, yes, the film is uneven and the main character seems to spend a lot of time on the periphery, but this is still a great movie about Hollywood from someone who should certainly know about it.
What stays with me is the affection for the actors in the roles they're playing. William Holden in, sadly, his final role as the alcoholic degenerate director Cully, Robert Preston as the hysterical Dr. Feelgood ("I remember this scene from THE THING..."), and Robert Webber as the hyper press agent with the body function problems. There are many more funny characters but these guys provide the heart of the film--in their own Hollywood way, of course.
Plus, it's worth seeing just to catch Robert Vaughn in Victoria Secret's lingerie in one scene....
on May 23, 2002
When I was younger, the appeal of SOB was seeing Mary Poppins bare her chest. Well, it's still great.
But when I got older, and really watched this film again, it was the incredible timing and acting chops of the entire cast that blew me away. The skewering of the Hollywood system this movie delivers is first-rate. It's fascinating seeing a film so greatly crucify the underside of Hollywood, when these days its so common knowledge the incorporation and bureacracy the film industry is. We have the internet and a million entertainment magazines now, its common knowledge how cut-throat it is. But in 1981 things were different and when SOB came out, it disappeared quickly it seems. It was probably too "inside" for general audiences to appreciate. Plus I'm sure the forces that be made sure to not trumpet a film which made fun of the people who brought it to screen.
If you appreciated the 'adult' humor of Blake Edwards other films such as '10', and 'Skin Deep', you must see 'SOB.' You have veteran actors tackling matters and situations that really apply to being an adult in the adult world. Mid-life crisis', integrity over indecency, getting older, standing up for principles as society seems to worsen around you...these themes run rampant in Edward's films. Its as though Edwards was the last 'Rat Pack''-ideaology director making movies about loveable drunks and womanizers who's hearts were in the right place, though we watch them comically learn life's lessons through trial and error choices. Good people dealing with the anxiety of getting older and realizing truths about themselves and the world, good and bad. But Edward's always presented it with a 'Boy's Club' mentality that, at least for me, made one hope to have such colorful characters as friends as I matured and got older.
To any prospective watcher of the film reading these reviews, I'd suggest one thing per your first viewing. Pay attention to the repoire between Felix (the suicidal director) and his cohorts Erving (the doctor), Cully (director friend), and Ben (Felix's wife/Julie Andrew's publicist). These guys are pros and the timing of the scenes they share is stellar , old-school, drinking pal ensemble acting. Especially as they 1-by-1 come by the beachhouse to see Felix and fall into their routine of spending time together (drinking and one-liners). These characters were partying Hollywood-style in the 50s and 60s and are now alumni of that classic generation, elders in the world of late 70s early 80s starlets and studios. They've seen it all and nothing shocks them. And boy do they still keep up.
Just lots of little moments, subtle nuances of comraderie that make this film a gem.
I've spent the last few years anxiously awaiting SOB on DVD, searching and contacting studios,websites, anyone who may have known something but to no avail. Suddenly one day it was just another title on a DVD site's "Upcoming Releases." I was ecstatic. I hope it looks and sounds as good as I imagine.
Wish Edward's would have done a commentary track for this, like supposedly he's done for 'Skin Deep'. Then again, maybe since most of the male leads of the film are deceased, it may have been tough for him to watch and reminisce.
on August 14, 2001
Actually, I'm reviewing this from memory of having seen the film when originally released. I fondly remember it as very funny -- and there are images that I retain. (No one has mentioned Robert Vaughn in "Rocky Horror Picture Show" Dr. Frankenfurter drag! -- with pink, puff mules yet!!) Just to see William Holden and Robert Preston work should entice any acting aficionado. Robert Preston was one of the best we'll ever know -- and that goes all the way back to 1939's "Union Pacific" with Barbara Stanwyck. William Holden was perhaps the best film actor ever -- he was never over the top, but never lacking. Subtle. Julie Andrews attempted to do what she had mildly threatened for many years -- to put that virginal, goody-goody image in the dust bin where it belongs. She is extraordinarily adept, and we'll probably never know how agile an actress she truly is. Tote up the rest of this brilliant ensemble cast, and you'll laugh like you've been wanting to laugh for a long time. Not only do they not make them like they used to, but nobody else ever made one like this. It's an original, and (to my knowledge) no one has attempted to copy this gem. Kudos to Blake Edwards et al.
on March 28, 2000
Julie Andrews baring her breasts? If they are hers then she has nothing to be ashamed of.This is one of those movies that the critic's hated but the majority of people who saw it found it hilarious.When you have such wonderful veteran actors such as Richard Mulligan,Julie Andrews,Robert Preston,Loretta Swit et al. in one production there is bound to be a good time by all.The humour is definately slap stick with Richard Mulligan doing a wonderful job as a hollywood producer who cannot deal with the only flop he ever had and is trying desperately to kill himself but just can't seem to get the job done.Robert Preston is wonderful and funny as the boozing but very sympathic doctor.Julie Andrews plays Richard Mulligans wife to the hilt with gusto -she is kind of caught in the middle and has all kinds of lawyers,agents,personal secretaries trying to advise her on how to handle her divorce from Richard and the eventual big mess that he ends up getting her envolved in. Just to hear Julie Andrews cuss and show her involved in a soft porn movie is worth the price of this one.This is anothe one of those movies that i can't really justify liking it as well as i do-other than it keeps me chuckling almost all the way through it.
on June 18, 2002
You have to give Blake Edwards and his courageous cast credit for having the nerve to make this film. It is irreverent, often over the top, and is pretty merciless in commenting on the Hollywood system. This film is not his masterpiece, but certainly one of his most personal statements. The picture quality of the DVD is excellent--good color, good definition, etc. The sound is so-so but, since it isn't a musical, that doesn't really matter too much. Supposedly, Edwards worked on this screenplay for years, as a reaction to the treatment he and his wife received from Paramount--especially during and after the filming of their mega-flop, "Darling Lili." Most folks now agree that "Lili" is a darned-good film and exhibits some of Edwards' and Andrews' best traits. When can we see this film on DVD?? And why not package it with with S.O.B. as a double set!!!
on July 24, 2003
I know that Julie Andrews was trying to make a statement as to how versatile she is and after Victor Victoria she showed the world how versatile she was, but did she have to make this film in between?
This showed a side to her that people who liked her didn't know about, the "i'm going to be modern and trendy and stay the box office draw, even if i have to bare my breast," attitude. She sings brilliantly in it but her acting is over the top, especially in the confrontation with Felix, when a bloke who's in bed is sick through a whole in the roof on Felixs head. The whole film is boring and over the top sexiness and Richard Mulligan, good actor that he is, does go over the top and starts acting like Jim Carrey on happy tablets.
Generally, i'd say rent it or see it on T.V and if you are a Julie Andrews fan then buy it but other that don't bother.
on July 17, 2000
Lewd, crude, rude. Richard Mulligan is Soap's Bert Campbell joined with Norman Maine on psychedelics. Robert Preston & Bill Holden are the best best friends a crazed director could have. If you enjoy seeing Hollywood get the shaft, i.e. The Player, Sunset Boulevard, & Ashley & Mary Kate Join The San Berdoo Angels, you'll have lots of belly laughs & guffaws. S.O.B. is also full of fashion tips for those who miss(missed?) the '70s. Once past the excruciating musical number, which is the most horrible thing since I was stuck at a drive-in through Mary Poppins AND The Sound Of Music (The S & M), S.O.B. shows why it shouldn't be overlooked. Can Blake Edwards follow this up with a musical version of Dogma? I hope so. Did I mention, Julie Andrews bares her chest? You've gotta love it. Check it out.