This amiable comedy may appeal more to fans of James Thurber than to anyone else, although they will take umbrage at some of the smarmy jokes, the sappy sentimentality, and the tacked-on happy ending. Lemmon is a writer-cartoonist who discovers that he's losing his vision. After a visit
to his opthalmologist, Darden, he trips over the attractive legs of divorcee Harris, who is cooling her heels in the waiting room. Lemmon has a few acerbic remarks for Harris, but they serve to intrigue, rather than repel her. After Lemmon exits with a lurch, Harris asks the doctor the details of
Lemmon's eye woes. It being a small world, Harris and Lemmon meet again at a literary cocktail party. He loses his spectacles in a pitcher of martinis and is forced to down the contents to find them. Now drunk and reeling, Lemmon is swaying on a Manhattan street and having a battle with a
belligerent lamp post. Lemmon's nose is bloodied as Harris arrives. She offers to administer first aid and he agrees to submit. She leads him to her residence where he meets her three children, Gerritsen, Drier, and Eilbacher, as well as the family pooch. All four take an immediate dislike to this
nearsighted trespasser. Despite the enmity of the family and dog, Harris and Lemmon are attracted to each other, and he eventually proposes to her. She accepts and wonderment abounds among Lemmon's friends, who know that he is a confirmed woman-, child-, and dog-hater. The wedding day dawns, and
Harris' ex-husband, Robards, arrives. He is a much-traveled photojournalist and the shining hero to his adoring trio of children. After the honeymoon Harris and Lemmon rent a house at a beach that soon turns into Vicksburg, as Lemmon's attempts at stepfatherhood cause the rift between him and the
children to widen into a chasm. Robards appears again for a visit and the situation gets worse. With a father and a stepfather in the same house, the kids are getting confused. Late one night both Lemmon and Robards are awakened by the sounds of what they perceive to be an intruder. They jump the
person, who turns out to be Eilbacher, on her way home from a date and guilty of staying out well past her deadline. Harris thinks that Eilbacher must be made to understand this is something not to be taken lightly, but Robards and Lemmon shrug it off, thereby enraging both mother and daughter,
who stalk off to their respective bedrooms, leaving Robards and Lemmon to sit around and get soused as they talk the night away. The next day Lemmon notices a strong deterioration in his vision and goes to see his doctor, while Robards departs on an assignment in Thailand. Lemmon learns he needs
surgery performed right away if he is to keep any part of his sight. When Harris admits that she knew how bad his eyes were, Lemmon wonders whether she married him more out of pity than love. The surgery is done and Harris comes to see Lemmon while he's recovering. He advises her to return to
Robards; it might be better for all if the family were united once more. Then Harris drops the bombshell that Robards has been killed in Asia. Lemmon can barely see, but if he draws on large enough paper, he can still do his cartoons. Gerritsen is the problem child. She is a terrible stutterer,
and the loss of Robards has caused her to stutter even worse than she had before. At Harris' request, Lemmon has a tete-a-tete with Gerritsen and encourages her, then baits her into venting her anger. Next he relates the story of his latest book, a parable titled "The Last Flower," in which he
details the cycle of humanity's self-destruction by war and the ability of mankind to be redeemed by the regenerative power of love. He shows her that his cartoons and her late father's photographic equipment are two means of achieving the same ends, and she is relieved to learn that Lemmon is not
the ogre that she first thought him to be, and her stutter vanishes. Later, at a party launching Lemmon's new book, he finally realizes that Harris married him out of love and nothing more.
The Thurber overtones run all the way through the movie. Though the artist-writer managed to write and draw about his lack of vision and never once descended into maudlin stickiness, the movie aims for it in a big way. Thurber-type drawings appear in the opening credits and as fillers, and at one
point, they are animated. Lemmon hadn't acted in a movie for two years prior to this one and had only one movie assignment, as director of KOTCH, during that time. Thurber was tough; Lemmon plays the character grumpy but essentially soft. He admitted that the script by director Shavelson and TV
mogul Arnold (of "Barney Miller") read a lot funnier than the film turned out. Arnold does a cameo performance as a police officer, and Dr. Joyce Brothers is seen as herself. Whimsy works only in small portions. This movie serves up a thick slice and then tops it with plenty of gooey sentiment.
The result dilutes the humor originally in the story. Shavelson was later involved with the Thurber-based TV series "My World and Welcome to It," which starred William Windom as the myopic master. The film has enough laughs to designate it as a comedy, but just barely.
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- Released: 1972
- Rating: PG
- Review: This amiable comedy may appeal more to fans of James Thurber than to anyone else, although they will take umbrage at some of the smarmy jokes, the sappy sentimentality, and the tacked-on happy ending. Lemmon is a writer-cartoonist who discovers that he's l… (more)