Friday, February 20, 2015

Movie review - "Never Too Late" (1965) **

In his book on Broadway, The Season, William Goldman talked about the play which was adapted into this film - and ran for over a thousand performances. He gives it as an example of a crappy play which starred a very well cast Paul Ford, and the critics decided to give it a tick and it became a tick - and he accused it of encouraging producers of bad plays to keep going hoping their own works would be so lucky.

He has a point - this is fairly bad. The central idea isn't bad - Ford is a grumpy middle aged man who lives with his wife (Maureen O'Sullivan), daughter (Connie Stevens) and her husband (Jim Hutton), who finds out his wife is going to be pregnant. This of course would involve a lot of health risks for wife and baby, none of which are touched on here. Instead we get lets of Ford being grumpy and grousing at O'Sullivan and Stevens and especially Hutton. The movie is really about their relationship - they don't get along, Ford thinks Hutton is a freeloader, Hutton thinks Ford is a bastard (he works for his father in law), then Stevens wants to get pregnant too. There's also a subplot about the local mayor (Lloyd Nolan) who is thinking of buying lumber from Ford or something.

Maybe this worked on stage. Or maybe tastes have changed. But it's hard going - few decent jokes, lots of arguing, heaps of sexism. Hilarious comedy like when O'Sullivan gets pregnant and then Stevens is forced to do the cooking - ha ha - and is bad at it -ha ha. I felt opportunities were missed -we don't even see the babies get born, or meet Hutton's relatives or friends.

I did like the sequence where Hutton and Stevens are told to relax if they want to get pregnant and wind up getting even more stressed. It also looks handsome - beautifully shot in that 1960s glossy way - with a Vic Damone theme song. The actors are okay - everyone can play comedy (Jane Wyatt's in there in a throw away role) - everyone's just a bit of a dickhead.

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