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  For Pete's Sake Money Makes The World Go Round
Year: 1974
Director: Peter Yates
Stars: Barbra Streisand, Michael Sarrazin, Estelle Parsons, Molly Picon, William Redfield, Louis Zorich, Heywood Hale Broun, Richard Ward, Ed Bakey, Peter Mamakos, Vivian Bonnell, Joseph Maher, Anne Ramsey, Jack Hollander, Gary Pagett, Vincent Schiavelli
Genre: ComedyBuy from Amazon
Rating:  5 (from 1 vote)
Review: Henrietta Robbins (Barbra Streisand), known to everyone as as Henry, is a young wife living with husband Pete (Michael Sarrazin) in their New York City apartment, but life is getting difficult. Pete works as a cab driver, and Henry works from home in telephone sales, but they're still having trouble keeping their finances in the black. Today, after dropping Pete off on their motorbike, Henry goes to the grocery store to buy tonight's dinner because she is going to be entertaining Pete's wealthier brother Fred (William Redfield) and his snobby wife Helen (Estelle Parsons), but the shopping costs so much she has to put items back. Then a trip to the bank to negotiate a way around cheque account problems, and a visit to the telephone company to argue that she never made a $12 call to Yugoslavia... and that's not the end of it.

When Streisand had a big hit with What's Up Doc?, the natural thing to do was put her in more comedies, so For Pete's Sake was a try at recreating the wacky, screwball humour of that previous film. Although, not at first, when this effort starts out it's a simple domestic comedy preoccupied with the high cost of living. The star doesn't sing in this one, unless you count the song over the animated title sequence, and this was a conscious decision to prove that she could get away with her acting skills rather than falling back on her crooning. Written by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin, who had scripted Pillow Talk for Doris Day, this film offers her opportunities she seizes enthusiastically.

After a disastrous dinner party with Pete's brother and sister-in-law where Henry insults Helen and they fall out, Pete announces as they get ready for bed that he has an idea to make the couple the money they seek. If you're in any doubt as to what he's going to invest in, then Streisand and Sarrazin repeat it about a hundred times, yes, their hope for the future is pork bellies, which as Henry points out sounds disgusting, but Pete is adamant that there's gold in them pig products. The trouble is, and there's always a new problem being thrown up for this couple, that he needs three thousand dollars to get the ball rolling.

This is money he doesn't have, so after the bank turns him down, he goes to Fred to persuade him to give him a loan. And then Fred turns him down, so they begin to grow desperate, so desperate in fact that Henry goes to a loan shark to get the thousands, without telling her husband. He is delighted when she shows him the cash, but now Henry has to pay it back with interest that accumulates by a thousand dollars every day. Here it is that the film moves into zany mode, when the story details the lengths she goes to to raise more money, all prompted by the gangsters who initially make Henry a prostitute.

Now, obviously the filmmakers couldn't have Babs sink as low as whoring in a light hearted comedy, so instead she manages to mess up her clients; the first one she knocks to the floor in an overagressive bout of play acting, the next passes out in her closet after her husband returns unexpectedly. So much for that idea, so next Henry is told to deliver a package that leads her right into a run in with the police and a tenacious police dog. As the plot progressively turns more ridiculous, you're hardly surprised at the cattle rustling climax which generates the best laughs of the picture ("Now that's realism!"), but For Pete's Sake is an awfully tortuous journey that is often more silly than funny. It had a reputation of being a real turkey when it was released, but it's not as bad as all that, just determinedly daft without enough (pork) belly laughs.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark


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Peter Yates  (1929 - 2011)

British director with some range, originally from theatre and television. After Summer Holiday and Robbery, he moved to Hollywood to direct Bullitt, with its car chase making waves. There followed The Hot Rock, The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Mother, Jugs & Speed, The Deep and touching teen drama Breaking Away before he returned to Britain for the fantasy Krull and The Dresser. Spent most of his final years working back in America.

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