Remember this logo? Once, in the late 1960s and early '70s, it meant quality mainstream filmmakingStuart Rosenberg (1927-2007) came to movies from TV. Not a good thing from the viewpoint of your standard cinéphile. I - of course - disagree.
Rosenberg began his filmwork belatedly in 1967, making an auspicious debut with "Cool Hand Luke," starring Paul Newman and produced by Jack Lemmon's Jalem Productions, and would direct only a handful of theatrical films - 14 (including one using the familiar psuedonym, Alan Smithee).
He would make three more films with Newman, all estimable - "WUSA" (1970), "Pocket Money" (1972) and the Lew Harper flick, "The Drowning Pool" (1975) - and he also worked with Redford on "Brubaker" (1980).
His most impressive work, arguably, was with Walter Matthau on the edgy "The Laughing Policeman" (1973) and with soulmates Eric Roberts and Mickey Rourke on the iconic "The Pope of Greenwich Village" (1984).
But my favorite Rosenberg titles are two back-to-back items that tend to come in under the radar - "The April Fools," which paired Lemmon with Catharine Deneuve in 1969, and one of four titles that Elliott Gould made in 1970, "Move" - a hip take on the era's trendy Euro filmmaking.
The two meet at a party hosted by Deneuve's husband (Peter Lawford, who appeared with Jack in Lemmon's debut film, 1954's "It Should Happen to You"), spend the night clubbing (in the company of eccentric night couple Myrna Loy and Charles Boyer) and then fly off to Paris together the next morning, with Lemmon leaving behind his wildly acquisitive wife, Sally Kellerman (nothing less than outstanding here as a vain, selfish, very oblivious woman who talks in psychobabble).
It's a soufflé and adding to the fun are the invaluable Jack Weston and Harvey Korman as two of Lemmon's buttoned-down, alcholic business buddies, and Melinda Dillon and Kenneth Mars as a (then) New Age couple.
"The April Fools" briefly made it on to VHS in the 1980s but has never been released on DVD. And while Turner has aired the four aformentioned Cinema Center titles of late, alas, this one has evaded its sechedule. (Hint to Turner.)
"Move," meanwhile, was one of four films made by Gould in 1970, the others being Robert Altman's "M*A*S*H," Richard Rush's "Getting Straight" and Mel Stuart's "I Love My ... Wife," all of which contributed to Gould landing on the cover of Time magazine as its Man of the Year, despite (save for "M*A*S*H") their middling critical status.
Nevertheless, I like all of them, and "Move" is particularly arresting, a daring attempt by Rosenberg to bring something Godardian to the American cinema. Not surprisingly, the critics didn't get it and, while the public showed up, it was not in droves. Let's face it, nouvelle vague is something that is not quite understood without the help of French subtitles.
Gould is Hiram Jaffe, an unsuccessful playwright married to the wonderful Dolly (Paula Prentiss) and wanting nothing more than to move from his cramped Upper West Side studio to a one-bedroom flat a few blocks away. (He actually makes a living walking dogs.) Much of the film is about Hiram waiting for movers who, of course, never show up. What follows is a paranoid fantasy as Hiram, the ultimate Gould character, endures sexually inferiority while his sexual imagination goes haywire.
For an added enthusiastic perspective on Rosenberg's rough gem, check out Filmbrain's ever-fascinating Like Anna Karina's Sweater site.
As for me, "Move" seemed way too sophisticated and cerebally complicated even for a liberated 1970, and has been punished by its distributor, 20th Century-Fox, for these perceived flaws for nearly 40 years now. The film has never been released on home video.
It hasn't even surfaced on the ever-dwindling Fox Movie Channel. Hmmm, why am I not surprised?