Play It As It Lays

  • 1972
  • Movie
  • R
  • Drama

A depressing look at life with Hollywood as a microcosm for the rotten state of the world. Filmed in Malibu, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and the Mojave Desert, this movie relentlessly examines the ugly side of life, while offering no redeeming happiness. Weld, a 30-year-old actress whose career has ended, is now living at a psychiatric hospital where she recalls...read more

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A depressing look at life with Hollywood as a microcosm for the rotten state of the world. Filmed in Malibu, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and the Mojave Desert, this movie relentlessly examines the ugly side of life, while offering no redeeming happiness. Weld, a 30-year-old actress whose career

has ended, is now living at a psychiatric hospital where she recalls the events leading to her demise. Now in flashback we see Weld, born in a tiny burg in Nevada, fleeing the confines of small-town life to become a top model before she even turns 20. Roarke, a hot, innovative director, casts her

in a unique film for which she doesn't have to learn lines, just has to tell how she feels about matters (sort of an Andy Warhol-Paul Morrissey picture). This role paves the way for her first commercial film vehicle, a sleazy biker epic, also directed by Roarke. Weld and Roarke get married and

have a brain-damaged daughter (tended by nurse Conley), but she has to be institutionalized. The marriage is a rocky one, as Roarke becomes an egotistical auteur director with little time for her. Consequently, she turns for affection and friendship of a nonsexual sort to Perkins, a gay man who is

married, in name only, to Grimes, because Perkins' domineering mother, Ford, has paid Grimes to stay with him. Weld is terribly unhappy with her lot and has attempted various means of elevating her depressed state, including a visit to the small Nevada town. She is searching for a meaning to her

life and the tragedy of her parents' lives--both of them died unexpectedly. She learns that Thomas Wolfe was correct when she goes home again to see that her childhood home has been knocked down to provide space for a rocket facility. She has several loveless affairs, including one with a mobster

in Las Vegas and another with Young, a television star. A one-nighter with screenwriter Anderson leads to her pregnancy. Roarke insists she have an abortion through McCann (in an unusual role as the abortionist's assistant). Roarke promptly divorces Weld, but she can't let go of him, as he is her

first love and a life raft in the sea of trouble. Roarke and Perkins go on location where Perkins is producing the film Roarke is directing. She follows them to a motel and tries to reconcile with Roarke but is rejected. Upon visiting Perkins, Weld discovers he can't find a reason to live anymore.

Weld can't help him on his quest, so he pops a handful of sleeping pills and tosses them down with a beaker filled with vodka. His death puts Weld into a state that lands her in the hospital. When someone asks her why she chose to live, instead of resorting to suicide, as Perkins did, she shrugs

and replies, "Why not?"

Diana Lynn was supposed to play the Grimes role but died unexpectedly at age 45 just prior to shooting. All the characters are so pretentious in the movie that it is impossible to care a bit about anyone. Some interesting sidelights in the casting, however, make the film worth a look.

Award-winning Daly (from TV's "Cagney and Lacey") has a small role, Anderson (who costarred in both "Bionic" TV shows simultaneously) has a nice part, film critic-teacher Knight plays himself as only he can, and improvisational comedian Darden also has a neat turn. The apartment-house manager is

Ryal, a man who came to the US from Holland, worked on his accent, and lost the Dutch sound so completely that he became one of the busiest commercial announcers and cartoon voices around. McCann, who is more often seen in comedy roles, lends a winning characterization as the insensitive man who

arranges illegal abortions. The production manager, Roger Rothstein, later became producer of many Neil Simon films, and Roy Lichtenstein, the famed "Pop" artist, was linked as "visual adviser." No question the picture has a unique look to it, but the lack of any humanity is its downfall.

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  • Released: 1972
  • Rating: R
  • Review: A depressing look at life with Hollywood as a microcosm for the rotten state of the world. Filmed in Malibu, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and the Mojave Desert, this movie relentlessly examines the ugly side of life, while offering no redeeming happiness. Weld, a… (more)

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