Nicholson and Beatty combine for this swipe at the idiocy of the American legal system, social values and human nature. When amorous Nicky Wilson (Beatty) wants to sleep with Fredericka Bigard ( Channing) he has to avoid the illogical Mann Law. This states that only married couples have the chance to do this, otherwise they will be imprisoned. So he gets Oscar Sullivan (Nicholson) to marry her and move to another region. However this is fraught with major problems.
Three solid actors and one giant director set out to attack the odd lunacy of laws in 1920’s USA. As puritanical madness took over, people were forced to do absurd things to live their lives. Nicholson and Channing chemistry is the draw here for me. Bickering, screaming, laughing and stuck inside a weird world of threes a crowd. It verges on slapstick occasionally but hilarious. Less can be said for the other talent. Beatty adds levels of seriousness but he loves his visual self more than we do. Nichols is also off form. Odd as he was a very talented director. He directs with a weary eye to frame and event. He seems to lack that sardonic eye for detail that builds great films like Graduate. I was shocked at how lacklustre it becomes as the film flow. With this in mind however the point made about the absurd levels law makers go to enforce morality. They seem to want to dictate what is ‘adult’ actions and what is forbidden actions. So sex and female bodies become the major factors.
The Blu ray remaster is silky. Making the photography on the 1920s beauty lovely. Pinkerton commentary is very good indeed. He makes the film so much more interesting in that he opens it up to history, production and cinema criticism. The two docs support the films. The first feels as if Nichols is trying to reassert his skill and his work on the film. Though it is a great conversation between maker and commentator. Kyle Stevens work is amazing and is the go to for the after film watch. It might have finished by Stevens work makes the viewer go back again and again…
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION SPECIAL FEATURES:
- High Definition remaster
- Original mono audio
- Audio Commentary with critic and film historian Nick Pinkerton
- Mike Nichols and Elaine May in Conversation (2006, tbc mins): the two friends and filmmakers in discussion, recorded at New York’s Walter Reade Theater
- A new filmed appreciation by professor Kyle Stevens, author of Mike Nichols: Sex, Language, and the Reinvention of Psychological Realism</i> (2017, tbc mins)
- Isolated Music and Effects Track
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
- New and improved English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing
- Limited edition exclusive booklet with a new essay by Martyn Conterio, an overview of contemporary critical responses, and historic articles on the film
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited Edition of 3,000 copies