I love Gene Wilder. There are a number of movies that he made that I will treasure from my youth. This film was made and I first saw it as an adult, and that makes a difference. Some of the high spirited silliness that made up his earlier work just does not fit in an adult style comedy. There are all sorts of things wrong with the movie that stem from the original screen story it is based on but Wilder adapted the screenplay himself so he does have to take some of the fall. “The Woman in Red” is not as terrible as I remember, having seen it only once thirty years ago, but it is not good either.
This is a bedroom farce based on a French film and it co-stars Joseph Bologna. Does that sound familiar to you? If you read this blog you may have encountered “Blame it On Rio“, another French farce that co-starred Bologna. He basically plays the same character here only this time he is a peripheral cast member. Repeating a pairing from way back in January, in “The Lonely Guy“, are Charles Grodin and Judith Ivey. This appears to be the cast of actors that you want if you are making an adult comedy about mid-life crisis and it is 1984.
I re-watched this after ordering a DVD from Amazon. I have not seen it since the first time 30 years ago today. I now see why. It is not a bad film, it just isn’t very good and the jokes change tone all over the place. There are times that the story means to be sadly knowing, and other times when it is absurdly over the top. Even when the jokes seem to be overdone, the actors are playing it so low key that it is hard to get into the spirit of the film.
Steve Martin broke out as a comedy presence on SNL and in the concert arenas of the late seventies. His first starring movie was “The Jerk” which was clearly ridiculous but also incredibly funny. It was also a huge success. In fact throughout the 1980s Martin was a critical and financial success. The one film of his that did not seem to catch on was this one. It had the smallest box office of any of his movies at the time and of all the films he has appeared in, it is near the bottom when it comes to ticket sales. Of course box office does not equal quality but the inverse is not automatically true either. So this is a small film that appears to have been lost over time, and it is not really missed. Continue reading