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  There Goes the Bride The Sound Of Farce
Year: 1980
Director: Terry Marcel
Stars: Tom Smothers, Twiggy, Martin Balsam, Sylvia Syms, Geoffrey Sumner, Hermione Baddeley, Graham Stark, Jim Backus, Phil Silvers, Toria Fuller, Michael Witney, Broderick Crawford, John Terry, Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez, Carmen Zapata, Steve Franken, John DiSanti
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  1 (from 1 vote)
Review: Bernardo (Graham Stark) was an Italian headwaiter at an exclusive American hotel until he had an encounter with one man who threw his life into turmoil. He explains to his psychiatrist (Phil Silvers) that his mind is now in pieces when the man in question put his whole concept of reality into freefall, so what happened? There was an advertising executive called Timothy Westerby (Tom Smothers) whose daughter was getting married to the son of a wealthy company boss, and needed to impress him, yet he was too wrapped up in work where he had a contract to promote ladies' underwear. Somehow this combined to mess him up completely...

On the wedding day, at that. When Ray Cooney delivered his comedy movie Run for Your Wife, based on his hit stageplay, it was judged one of the worst of its kind ever made, but he had form, as anyone unlucky to have caught this earlier adaptation of his work would attest. Cooney enjoyed huge success in the theatre, kind of looked down on by the cognoscenti as a series of lowbrow hits to please the sort of theatregoer who wouldn't dream of attending a Shakespeare or a Pinter, but they did make him very rich. On the other hand, whenever he tried to parlay that success into the film medium, the results flopped, and this UK-American co-production was another example.

In fact, if you haven't seen the stage play, you may be wondering, somewhat aghast, how any of this material could be transformed into a hit; obviously a film and a farce play are going to be approached in different ways, but the movie of There Goes the Bride looked remarkably like it had been crafted by Martians who had heard of this thing you Earthlings call "jokes" and wanted a shot at that themselves, yet had no real grasp of, well, of anything funny. There were signs they were trying to pay tribute to the musical comedies of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but even so those productions could be genuinely entertaining in a light and airy fashion: this simply lumbered.

Smothers was a television star who fitfully tried to make it as a movie star, yet as you could see here there were good reasons he didn't succeed, chief among them his obvious discomfort in front of a film camera. When his character gets a bump on the head by an opening door, it makes him hallucinate a twenties flapper called Polly Perkins, played by sixties It girl Twiggy - Timothy believes her to be flesh and blood and interacts with her accordingly, even going as far as plighting his troth for her, despite his wife (Sylvia Syms) being there in the room with him. Naturally (if anything about this could be called natural), nobody can see Polly except him, and the supposed humour arises from what in the actual thirties would be a fantasy comedy like Topper, but here, shall we say, failed to reach those heights.

Time and again a scene would set up some bit of business for the cast to do, or an exchange of dialogue that was presented as humorous, but Smothers was stuck with such an awful role that it became grimly compelling to watch him flounder like a drowning man and drag everyone else down with him. When Timothy received another bump on the noggin, he then believes himself to be an entirely different person, leading to - God help us - dance routines that the other characters can only see his half of, but we intermittently glimpse Twiggy partaking in, much like The Boyfriend in the early seventies. All the while a not-inconsiderable cast of talents were reduced to looking like utter idiots - for taking this seriously, for signing onto it in the first place - and a lecherous tone jarred with the failed attempts to be charming (the word "brassiere" is repeated so often it becomes meaningless). This wasn't merely unfunny, it was like watching a toxic spill poisoning all humour before it, and weirdly compelling in a way that the truly abominable can be. Music by Harry Robertson. Or Robinson.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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