Other than the title, there is no resemblance between this movie and Brown's hit nonfiction book. Hoffman wrote the story, but it was Heller's agreeing to write the script that convinced Fonda to join the cast after initally declining a lucrative offer and the chance to play comedy
following a long hiatus from that form. (Fonda's favorite book was Heller's Catch-22--perhaps because Heller wrote that one of his characters, "Major Major," looked like Fonda.) Curtis works as an editor for a scandal magazine run by Horton, who says that he wants to make his publication "the most
disgusting scandal sheet the mind can recall." Curtis notes that psychologist Wood, who runs an organization called The International Institute of Advanced Marital and Premarital Studies might be a good subject for an expose. He suspects that this youngish woman (about 23) may be (heaven forbid!)
a virgin who is just using her position to sublimate her sexual frustrations. In order to get close to Wood, Curtis poses as someone else, using Fonda's name. Fonda is a neighbor of Curtis who is engaged in constant conflicts with Fonda's wife, Bacall. These battles take the form of loud,
knock-down, drag-out harangues that everyone on their street is privy to. Curtis applies for help at Wood's organization; and she thinks he's cute, so she agrees to help, unaware that he's there to write a sequel to his first smear article. Curtis consults Wood professionally on a number of
occasions and then suggests they have an affair, something she emphatically turns down. He calls her one day, threatening to drown himself unless she agrees, and she races to the boat basin where the two of them accidentally fall into the water. They repair to Wood's apartment to get "out of their
wet clothes and into a dry martini" (Robert Benchley). Curtis mixes some strong booze and then makes advances, which Wood continues to repel. When Curtis tells her that he and his wife are not legally wed but living together, Wood doesn't believe him and wants to consult with his wife, Bacall.
Since Wood has never met Bacall, Curtis enlists the aid of his erstwhile lover, Jeffries, and his secretary, Parrish. (When one says she can't make it, he tries the other.) As it stands, both women show up to impersonate Bacall at Wood's office at the same same as Bacall (whom Wood has asked to
come in). Bacall, furious, has Fonda thrown in jail for bigamy. Wood finally sees through Curtis' ploy and decides to go out of town with Ferrer, a colleague-psychiatrist who admits that he became a shrink because "I like to hear dirty stories." Wood and Ferrer are on their way to the airport; and
Curtis, who has just been fired by Horton for refusing to write a scurrilous article on Wood, is after them. At the same time, Fonda is trying to leave for Hawaii, and Bacall is pursuing him in a cab. There's a mad chase in taxis that winds up at the airport, where everything is finally sorted
out. Curtis and Wood find each other, Ferrer and Jeffries fall madly in love, and Fonda and Bacall decide that they can't live a moment apart from each other. Ferrer and Jeffries get on the plane to Hawaii, and it all ends up in a predictable smile. Basie appears with his orchestra (including
Marshall Royal, Frank Foster, Freddie Green, Lou Blackburn, Sonny Payne) to play the title tune by Quine and Hefti, as well as "What Is This Thing Called Love?" (Cole Porter) from "Wake Up And Dream." In a small role as a production man, note Wayne, who appears as Benjamin Franklin in a superb
one-man show around the world. Storch also turns in a neat cameo as a motorcycle cop driven to distraction by the chase, along the San Diego Freeway, to the airport. Brown's husband, David, was a studio executive who later teamed up with Richard Zanuck to produce many hits, such as THE STING and
both JAWS films.
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- Review: Other than the title, there is no resemblance between this movie and Brown's hit nonfiction book. Hoffman wrote the story, but it was Heller's agreeing to write the script that convinced Fonda to join the cast after initally declining a lucrative offer and… (more)
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