US, 1982, 104 minutes, Colour.
Al Pacino, Tuesday Weld, Dyan Cannon, Alan King, Bob Dishy.
Directed by Arthur Hiller.
This film of the early 80s requires a much lighter touch than it has. It was directed by Arthur Hiller who had shown some talent with light comedy. However, the star is Al Pacino, probably too strong a performer for the character he is meant to portray, a playwright who is having troubles with his relationships as his play opens on Broadway.
The two women in his life are portrayed by Dyan Cannon and Tuesday Weld, better skilled at this kind of comedy. The film is passable entertainment, though not likely to feature as one of the most significant films on the curriculum vitae of any of the participants.
1. A satisfying comedy? Drama? The screenplay's comment on the 'comic mode for serious themes'? The comedy mode for serious Americana?
2. The presentation of the New York world, apartments, theatre, restaurants? Trendy New York? The contrast with wealthy Massachussetts? The contemporary look? The credibility of the New York world and its characters? Contribution of score? The insertion of the songs, significance of the lyrics?
3. The film as an Al Pacino vehicle? His style, intensity, credibility as a dramatist, a moody man, his intense relationships, the credibility of his relationships with the children?
4. The background of the theatre: the initial auditions, the discussions and diplomacy, the firing of the director, the double talk, the smooth talking but anxious producer and his comments, the search for financial backers and their presence in rehearsals, discussions over meals. the need for diplomacy and for bluntness? The searching out of new directors, disagreements about the quality of the writing, auditions, rehearsals, rewrites? Creative blocks? The build-up to the first night, fears, applause? The culmination of the cry of the title? The eagerness of the reviews? Audience interest in this theatre theme? Theatre as the context for the family drama?
5. The presentation of the family: Ivan and his return home, his easy relationship with the kids and the joke about beating his kids, his age, the cake and their throwing it at him? His joy with the children? The difference in his relationship with Gloria? friendly, tense? Gloria's going out, not wishing to talk, sleeping, disappearing? Ivan following her to the school and the loud argument? The explanation of their marriage? the background of Gloria's marriages, the kids and their fathers? Her erratic behaviour and its repercussions for Ivan? Ivan's upset about Alice as the star, the diplomacy of the meeting, their easy relationship? His going out with her, staying the night with her, the talk, her moving in? The clashes, his reaction with the kids to going to the fashionable restaurant and meeting celebrities? The drama of the kids going back to their respective fathers? Their return and his having to deal with them, even against the police? His decision to take the taxi to search for Gloria? The confrontation, his deciding to leave her? The interplay of the build up to the first night and his decision about the children? The credibility of Ivan's character as embodied by Pacino?
6. The picture of the kids: Igor and his resemblance to his father, his reliability, his easy relationship with his father, sharing with him, taking responsibility? His influencing him to go out with Alice? Ivan's discussing the other children with Igor and their compassion for them? Igor's helping in the protection of the two girls? The first night and his support? The big boy and his going back to his father. returning? The girls and their mods, not wanting to go, Gloria sending them off, their return, hiding them on the roof with the police chasing, their father saying he wanted them back? His not having legal custody? Geraldo and his Spanish father? His talk, bluntness, the toilet sequences? His bond with Igor? The night at the restaurant and their going to sleep? The noisy home sequences? The party after the first night, the reviews, waking Ivan up and throwing the cake at him for the climax of the film? How credible were the children in themselves? Their being neglected by both parents? Their dependence on Ivan's love?
7. The sketch of Alice as the celebrity actress? The champagne and aspirin and her nervousness, her accepting of the role, worrying about it, the rehearsals and her effectiveness, her dating Ivan on the phone. the walk and the talk. the night together. her moving in, coping with the kids, the cooking, wanting to go out, the night at the restaurant, her relief at moving out, her success in the play?
8. The producer and his anxiety and his attempts at smooth talking?
9. The details for the minor characters: the people at the restaurant, the police and their visit, the personnel at the theatre, Gloria's new husband and the clash with Ivan?
10. What happens to Ivan in his experience of his success with the play and with the children: as a writer, his intensity, his capacity for humanity and love, desperation about Gloria and her kids?
11. The picture of Gloria as self-centred, maternal, unreliable, a wanderer? How did she parallel Alice? The differences?
12. The film as a piece of Americana ? a sketch of individuals, a focus on career, lifestyle, marriage and divorce, repercussions for children? A comedy serious statement on American society?