Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Bitter Belly Laughs

Peter O’Toole struts his stuff as an upper class lunatic shepherded towards the House of Lords after his father's death in the irreverent, blunderbuss satire The Ruling Class. O'Toole's family are exasperated when he's nominated as the sole heir of the late Earl's fortune and when he turns up, asylum fresh, yet still convinced he's the big JC, his relatives develop a cunning plan to resolve the situation. With O’Toole in fine form and some excellent support from Sim and Lowe this is a gloriously scathing, dark swipe at our beloved class system that isn’t afraid to be more than a little silly. It’s long but worth every minute of your time.

Apparently Blake Edwards drew on his own ambivalent experiences in Hollywood for his cynical, lolloping satire S.O.B. A celebrated director is driven to suicide after his first flop but after his friends rally his spirits he embarks on a foolish re-edit to rescue the picture. Julie Andrews, Edwards’ actual wife of the time, leads the cast as a starlet smashing her wholesome image with her first nude scene and she’s joined in the fun by a bevy of famous faces including Vaughn, Loggia, Swit, Hagman and William Holden depicting a slew of hanger-ons, shady agents, dodgy docs and rapacious producers. It’s not nearly as focussed as Ruling Class and Mulligan’s central performance is, ironically the weakest but it’s acerbic script is sharp and funny.

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