Unfairly forgotten, "I'll Never Forget What's'isname" may be sabotaged by its awkward title -- which doesn't even have much connection to the script. Wouldn't you expect it to be a line of dialogue? Nope, try again.
Oliver Reed is Andrew Quint, a ruggedly handsome ad executive who's brilliant at his job but disillusioned. He works for corrupt mogul Jonathan Lute, played by Orson Welles with his usual dazzling charisma. The story opens with Quint axing his desk to pieces and quitting his job. He returns to the struggling literary magazine which launched his career, hoping to regain his spiritual bearings. Naturally, the ruthless Lute scoffs at the move.
At this initial stage, the film seems poised to be a dark satire of advertising and capitalism. But unfortunately, it strays too far into romantic issues during the second act, as Quint spars with his cynical wife and courts the miniskirted honeys who skip through his world. There's model-thin Carla, who has moved on. There's Josie (Marianne Faithfull at her sexy peak, sadly limited to just a few minutes of screen time). And there's his new co-worker, the virginal Georgina (Carol White). The latter seems his best bet for a new relationship if his wife carries out her divorce threats. Meanwhile, Lute schemes to put Quint back under his control.
Along the way, Quint recalls his bullied youth, rendered in arty flashbacks distorted with tinting and jagged edits. Welles draws a couple of big laughs (his disgusted reaction to a bowl of barley flakes can not be missed). Faithfull shows some skin and calls Quint a "f*cking bastard" -- disputably, the first time that profanity was ever uttered in a mainstream film. And eventually, there's one of those fictional TV commercials that are so dependably fun to see. The story also turns much more dramatic than its early scenes would suggest.
It's fascinating that this '60s-era protagonist has so much in common with "Mad Men"'s Don Draper, and the screenplay is written by someone named...Peter Draper. This can't be coincidence, can it? Matthew Weiner, drop me a line.