The Public Eye

  • 1972
  • Movie
  • G
  • Comedy

This attempt to make a full-fledged film out of a tiny stage anecdote falls flat. That it was expanded by the play's author, award-winning Peter Shaffer (AMADEUS), produced by the legendary Hal Wallis (CASABLANCA, plus), and directed by one of England's greatest directors, Sir Carol Reed (ODD MAN OUT) sends the imagination reeling. The one-act play had...read more

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This attempt to make a full-fledged film out of a tiny stage anecdote falls flat. That it was expanded by the play's author, award-winning Peter Shaffer (AMADEUS), produced by the legendary Hal Wallis (CASABLANCA, plus), and directed by one of England's greatest directors, Sir Carol Reed

(ODD MAN OUT) sends the imagination reeling. The one-act play had a respectable run in London as a double bill with "The Private Ear," also only one act. "The Public Eye" later opened in New York in 1963 as a three-character sketch starring Geraldine McEwan as the wife, Barry Foster as the private

eye, and Moray Watson as the husband. It lasted a bit longer than six months on Broadway. "The Private Ear" was purchased and produced for the screen in 1966 as THE PAD, AND HOW TO USE IT, a trifle at best, but not nearly as trifling as this. For all its forced attempts at lightness, this picture

is as frothy as week-old ale. Farrow and Jayston have been married half a year. They are totally opposite. She's an American flower child and he is a stiff-backed British accountant. She disappears daily in London, and Jayston suspects she's finding balm and solace in another man's arms, so he

hires Topol, a Greek detective (he plays it like a combination of Peter Ustinov and Donald Duck) to tail her. Farrow has been missing some of the stodgy social calendar dates Jayston has planned, and she blames her inability to gauge time while she sightsees around Dr. Johnson's favorite city. Ten

days of Topol's investigation only prove that Farrow is doing what she says she is doing, plus occasionally visiting movie houses to watch horror films. Jayston won't believe Topol, who then says that he was lying--Farrow does have another man in her life. Ahah! Jayston puts it to Farrow, who

admits that she's been spending time with a man who's been following her for a while. They've visited all the tourist spots in the city, smiled at each other, but have still not spoken a single word. Jayston realizes that it's Topol, and he races to the Greek's place to scream. Farrow, aghast when

she learns that Topol was hired by Jayston, exits. Topol gets an idea, and at Jayston's place, tells the couple that Jayston should follow Farrow for 10 days and she'll fall back in love with him. Jayston thinks that's nonsense, but as Farrow races out of Jayston's office, he grabs Topol's white

coat and goes out after her. She smiles in his direction and the phone rings. Topol picks it up and tells the caller that he is Jayston's new partner (he didn't much like detective work anyhow). Farrow is like a woman with neurasthenia, Topol (an Israeli) commits the terrible dietary sin of being

hammy, and Jayston seems to be in a Noel Coward play. The three different styles all work against each other. The film is too cute for its own good.

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  • Released: 1972
  • Rating: G
  • Review: This attempt to make a full-fledged film out of a tiny stage anecdote falls flat. That it was expanded by the play's author, award-winning Peter Shaffer (AMADEUS), produced by the legendary Hal Wallis (CASABLANCA, plus), and directed by one of England's gr… (more)

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