Saturday, August 30, 2008

"You're a Big Boy Now" (1966, Dir: Francis Ford Coppola)

I have a theory that if "You're a Big Boy Now" was filmed without dialogue - basically a silent film with a music soundtrack - it would work a lot better. The writing in this film is really clunky and the attempts at farce fail on all counts, but there's a joy in color and music that isn't present in the ponderous and stilted machismo of the overlong, overjuiced, overpraised The Godfather.

The film itself is a curious pastiche of different concepts and visual flourishes - Coppola seems to throw ideas at the film like darts, but he never commits to any of them. The plot seems to be just a backdrop for Coppola's messy, Pollockian style of direction. It is clear that this was a student film - you sense the eagerness and the excitement of a neophyte in the art of filmmaking - but the amateurishness is clear.

Peter Kastner projects a kind of bucksome ineffectuality in the lead, but there are some funny performances in supporting roles - Elizabeth Hartman is very foxy as Barbara, Tony Bill is quite good as Bernard's smooth-talking co-worker, Julie Harris is funny in an odd casting choice, and a po-faced Rip Torn is very funny. Less successful are Karen Black, whose sweetness is a bit bland, and Geraldine Page, who provides a broad, tic-filled comic archetype with no focus or real verve.

Special mention must go to the excellent costumes and sets - I especially loved Barbara's kitchen adorned with Mucha prints and clown figurines.

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