The Loved One Reviews
Liberace is very surprising good as the soft spoken sleaze bag undertaker trying to sell every possible high price item and when you balk, that sneer contemptuous, "very good". You know, like at a snooty restaurant with a friend and you only order the salad and water because you really aren't hungry and the waiter thinks you are cheap.
The racketeering like funeral business, the greed, the greed of cemeteries run by big corporations, the brain washed delight of a dysfunctional staff that enjoys the gruesome work as if they are creating great works of art in marble may not be for everyone.
Lovely, lovely scenes especially of the cemetery.
Now if they can just figure out a way to get those stiffs off the reverend's proprietary.
I find it interesting that the few low rating here are by people that clearly don't understand satire particularly black, does not have "punch line" jokes.
Is it perfect, no.... but far better than the undeserved 1 or 2 stars a few have given.
I find the idea ammusing that the whole concept for the novel on which this film is based, sprung from Waugh's brief experience in Los Angeles while trying to get a film version of Brideshead Revisited put together, Legend has it that he was so taken aback by his experience with the film indurtry and of attending just ONE Hollywood style funeral (with all of it's trappings) that he had to write about it. Thanks goodness he did as the results are hilarious.
Written as only Evelyn Waugh can write, we are forced to step back and really take a look at the absurdities of certain people, places and social interactions. With very ammusing results.
This was my first time seeing Jonathan Winters in a (mostly) serious role and he was quite good. A young Robert Morse (of Mad Men fame) is superb as the lovable, but bumbling Englishman trying to make sense of it all. And Rod Steiger performance as Mr. Loveboy is beyond discription. There are also cameo's galore throuhout the film.
It does suffer a bit from some of the trappings of an "older" film, but for those who appreciate film and literary history...you're in for a treat.
Honestly, I had no idea what I was in for. It seemed at first glance a British comedy of manners, yet by the end turned out to be one of the most twisted films I've seen this side of early John Waters (indeed, Edith Massey's character in Pink Flamingos HAD to have been influenced by Rod Steiger's character's mother). Ashby's contributions were limited to the editing room, yet I can see why this film was chosen for this retrospective; it veritably reeks of Ashby, both in terms of his virtuosic cutting and the influence it clearly had on his sensibilities as a director. The treatment of the female lead was more than a little discomforting, but I believe that was by design; I squirmed right on cue.
Some great cameos (Liberace had me dying), the pace built slowly but brilliantly (again, I had no idea the sheer level of mayhem was in store based on the earliest moments of the film, yet the shifts in tone were virtually invisible), and perhaps the best instance I've seen of casting a prestigious Shakespearean actor as little more than a McGuffin. This is definitely one I want to revisit soon.