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Desperate Characters Reviews

This well-written if somewhat stagey character study focuses on a day in the life of an urban proto-yuppie couple, Sophie and Otto (Maclaine and Mars) who reside near the once fashionable but now rundown Brooklyn Heights (this is 1971, before the gentrification boom). Urban violence is breaking out all around them but they are becoming inured to it. Their conversation has deteriorated into banalities. Otto, an attorney, casually remarks that he is ending his partnership with Charlie (O'Loughlin), his long-time associate and best friend. It seems that Charlie has gone liberal and, as such, he is spending altogether too much time with causes and not enough with cases. A street cat paws at their door and MacLaine feeds it some milk. This act of kindness is rewarded by a deep bite on her hand. At a party thrown later that night by psychiatrist Mike (Gampel) and his wife, Flo (Hokanson), the joy of the evening is shattered by a rock that smashes a window. You get the idea? The times they are a'changin'. MacLaine and Mars were acclaimed for their performances but the public stayed away. This is one of Maclaine's best performances. Mars carved himself a comfortable niche in comedy with a starring role as the Nazi playwright in THE PRODUCERS and several hilarious parts in various Mel Brooks films. This was the feature directorial debut for playwright turned screenwriter-director Gilroy who had won previously won accolades for his award-winning play, The Subject Was Roses and his screenplay for the film version. He went on to write and direct films such as ONCE IN PARIS..., a delightful story of a screenwriter who goes to Paris to write a screenplay which was as at least as interesting as DESPERATE CHARACTERS and, sadly, suffered a similar fate.