George Webber (Dudley Moore) has his forty-second birthday today, and when he visits his friend Hugh (Robert Webber) that evening, he finds the house in darkness and the butler telling him the power is out - but it isn't, George's friends have simply set him up with a surprise party to celebrate. Yet when the evening has wound down, he sits with his girlfriend Samantha (Julie Andrews) and asks her never to stage something like this again; he's feeling his age, and he doesn't like it.
10 was a big success among the audiences of 1979, becoming a cultural touchstone for a generation, but not the younger generation, more the middle-aged one who could relate to George's problems. As with many of writer and director Blake Edwards' late period comedies, they reflected his concerns to mine humour from them, which could verge on the grumpy old man, or at least grumpy old ex-swinger, outlook, as he worried through his leading man that things weren't what they used to be, and his relevancy was under question. How gratified Edwards must have felt when this was the hit it was.
So if there's a distinct sense of the film feeling sorry for itself as the years catch up with George and he gradually realises he ain't as young as he was anymore, there was to compensate some very funny scenes, mostly thanks to Moore's willingness to look vulnerably ridiculous for the sake of a laugh. He knows he's now getting to be daft in his post-forty years, but that doesn't mean he cannot indulge in a measure of raging against the dying of the light, and it's not as if he's absolutely ancient anyway, so why shouldn't he continue to womanise as he always had? The answer to that is in Sam, who we can see will provide him with the stability he needs.
So as with Bedazzled, Moore simply has to utter the magic words "Julie Andrews" and he has a way out of his mid-life crisis, but before he does he has to acknowledge that chasing after "broads" as he terms them, a word that Sam strongly objects to as it brings out the side of George she really doesn't like, is a pasttime he should have got over by now. Settle down George, is basically the message to him here, except there's the small matter of Bo Derek to be taken into consideration. It's not enough for him to spy on his hedonistic neighbour (Don Calfa) through his telescope and wish that he could be over there with all those naked women himself, he has to take a more active stance.
So when George spots Jennifer (Derek) in the back of a limo going to get married, he is stirred and begins a pathetic pursuit of her, culminating in following her on honeymoon, not quite sure of what he'll do when he plucks up the courage to speak to her. This leads to the moment where Ravel's Bolero is played in the bedroom, cementing Bo's screen immortality (though little else did), and giving us Torvill and Dean among other things, but Edwards had more on his mind than seeking to fulfil his protagonist's lustful urges. Many accused 10 of sexism, but there was actually a rich spectrum of both male and female characters so we could see George was the one being lampooned, and when Jennifer turns out to be mediocre rather than a fantasy made flesh, he has some reckoning to do. Besides, there's Hugh who jealously guards his toyboy, and Dee Wallace as a lonely singleton whose one night stand with George goes nowhere, not your usual sex comedy characters. If it took too long to reach its point, 10 was more thoughtful than often credited with. Music by Henry Mancini.