Wednesday, March 01, 2017
cinema obscura: Richard Quine's "Oh Dad, Poor Dad, Mama's Hung You in the Closet and I'm Feeling So Sad" (1967)
Based on the off-Broadway hit by Arthur Kopit, the film casts a game Rosalind Russell as Madam Rosepettle (a reference to Madam Rose?), a certifiable steamroller who dotes on her Venus flytraps and cat-eating Piranhas and her babified son Robert Morse (who still wears Doctor Dentons) and who keeps her late, taxidermal husband Jonathan Winters carefully preserved.
The singular Barbara Harris (in her second film role, following 1965's "A Thousand Clowns") plays the babysitter at the resort hotel where Madam Rosepettle, Junior and Dad are ensconced. Natually, she falls for Junior, whose name is actually Jonathan. On the sidelines are such cinematic loons as Hugh Griffith and Lionel Jeffries.
The film doesn't work but it's not exactly unwatchable, thanks to Quine's sure hand which manages to produce several curious/memorable sequences.
Incidentally, Quine started out as an actor and appeared in 25 films, including Rosalind Russell's "My Sister Eileen" (1942), in which he played the role of Frank Lippincott, the young man nursing a crush on Janet Blair's Eileen. Thirteen years later, he would direct Betty Garrett, Janet Leigh and Jack Lemmon in the musical remake for Columbia, with the role of Frank Lippincott going to Bob Fosse, who also choreographed the film.
Another 12 years later, in '67, he would reunite with Roz Russell for "Oh Dad, Poor Dad."
Quine, who had a fascinatingly eclectic career as a filmmaker ("Pushover," "Bell, Book and Candle," "The World of Suzie Wong," "Synanon," "Strangers When We Meet," "Sex and the Single Girl," "Hotel," and "The Moonshine Wars"), died in 1989, a suicide by gunshot. For a good part of his career, Kim Novak (with whom he made four films) was his muse.
Posted by joe baltake at 8:10 PM