Tuesday, June 15, 2010

More Character Actors

Elaine May has a movie tied up that I cannot seem to get on DVD right now.  There are some used copies available on VHS, but the price is a bit steep.  The movie is 1971's A New Leaf with May and Walter Matthau.

It is a story about a millionaire who has spent all of his inheritance.  He goes looking for a rich woman to marry...enter Elaine May.  The movie is brilliantly written and directed by May, but she included a sub-plot that made the movie too long (3 hours) and too dark for a comedy.  When Paramount got hold if it, they re-edited it to make it shorter.  They also used some canned music rather than spending a fortune on new compositions.  This caused a rift between May and Paramount, so it is not available in either length.  The best you can hope for is to catch it on TV.

Almost everyone in the cast is an accomplished character actor.  Jack Weston and James Coco are the big names.  The butler, who has a big part through the movie, was played by George Rose, and you believe he is the consummate gentleman's gentleman.  Rose was in A Night to Remember in 1958, Hawaii in 1966, and he did a lot of TV, including an appearance on "Saturday Night Live" in 1980.

Graham Jarvis played Bo, whom we only see at social events and in the club.  A perfect performance as a millionaire.  Watch him in The Out of Towners (1970) or What's up Doc (1972), for a completely different character.

Even the small role of the desk clerk at the club was played to the max by John O'Leary, who was in All the President's Men (1976) and Airplane! in 1980.

My guess is Elaine May's direction, plus the inspiration of having Walter Matthau on the set, was what inspired the rest of the cast to such sterling performances.  Everyone was perfect in the movie, right down to the smoking, elderly maid going slowly up the stairs, blocking Matthau's progress.

If you have the opportunity, try to catch this one.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please add your thoughts, but they will be monitored so keep it on topic.