Boeing (707) Boeing (707) (1965)
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Sexist and very much of its time and place but due to the talent of the two leads, both gifted comedic actors, and the peerless Thelma Ritter the film is amusing in a nostalgic way.
This movie is pretty funny. Jerry Lewis and Tony Curtis. The Big Comedy of Nineteen-Sexty-Sex!
Recently read the stage play on which this is based. Not much of the dialog or interactions between the characters has been saved in this adaptation. Not that I thought the stage play was that amazing. Each of the stewardesses had names that started with "J," and there wasn't much that defined them as individuals. The whole play is restricted to one set of course, the apartment where Bernard and his fiancees live. I found all the blocking hard to visualize, and the housekeeper's attitude was hard to grasp.
This movie takes a lot of freedoms, but I'm not sure it helps or hurts. There is no longer an American stewardess, but instead a British stewardess named Vicky. The German stewardess is now named Lise. The French stewardess is still named Jacqueline. Some of the poetry and appreciation of art by the German girl is now attributed to the British girl. The French girl instead of the German girl accidentally kisses Bernard's friend Robert when she enters and only sees the back of his head. The British girl falls in love with Robert instead of the German girl doing so as in the play. And the German girl has some sleeping medicine that knocks her out and keeps her out of the way for several scenes. I'm not sure why the makers of the movie would choose to make such changes to the plot and the stewardess characters. Does the sleeping medicine make it seem more plausible when all three girls are in the apartment at once? Do the filmmakers think the audience doesn't want to see the German character as clearly defined? Anyways, the camera shows us the airport in Paris, a restaurant, a cafe, and a taxi chase. Also while Bernard and Robert are outside the apartment, a new character is introduced. Pierre finds stewardesses on different schedules and provides other information for a price. When I saw the video case I was intrigued to see another performance from Thelma Ritter as the housekeeper, Bertha. All of a sudden the type of character the housekeeper is supposed to be became more clear. Except her performance isn't that strong here. The part hasn't been written that strongly. There aren't enough of Ritter's usual snide, tough as nails remarks.
Jerry Lewis is more Buddy Love here than any one of his cross eyed accident prone creations. What I mean is that he is just a straight man to the comic situation surrounding him and Tony Curtis. There is very little mugging for the camera, weird vocal outbursts, or double takes with his eyes going cross. Once he understands the situation that his buddy Bernard is in he is more of a schemer, a blackmailer than the play portrays. Tony Curtis is very high strung as Bernard. He doesn't allow the stress of the timetables to do a slow burn as much, which I think works a bit better in the stage play script. There sounds like there is potential in the concept of this story, but there are many other farces that deal with characters who are secret to one another, and which derive more laughs out of the situation.
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