Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 2. March 23, 1959
No Happy Ending
No Happy Ending
There is no happy ending, nor a sentimental one. As her faithful secretary says "I'll take her back to California, and she'll go on making movies because that's all she knows to do, and whatever happens after that happens."
Chayefsky has got away from his New York characters we saw in "Marty" and "The Bachelor Party."
He is still obsessed with the current and overdone theme of modern American plays and films; that of the necessity of loving and being loved, and of the emotional conflict between parent and child.
This theme has been done to death by much better writers as Tennessee Williams, Arthur Miller and William Inge. But he is a much less theatrical writer than these three and he has no dramatic deaths, suicides, or rapes.
He is less flamboyant, yet he has a few [unclear: mannerisms] that are becoming a little monotonous. He has become over fond of semi-poetical monologues, such as the existentialists in "The Bachelor Party" and the first husband's long monologue in "The Goddess" on how it is to be lonely and to attempt suicide three or four times.
It seems to me to be an easy way of giving the audience the details of the character, without bothering to bring it out in the flow of the drama. One can get away with it on the stage or television (from which Chayefsky has developed), but in a film it is far too static.
There are numerous scenes which are beautifully written, particularly the scenes in the hotel with the second husband, and it is in these scenes that Chayefsky is at his best. The dialogue is taut and not repetitive (another of his mannerisms) and the two characters are more clearly realised than in any other part of the film. Rita desperately looking for love and slowly getting bored with her husband are a triumph for both the author and Kim Stanley. But despite her performance the film belongs to Chayefsky.
It is a writer's film and on the whole it is a compelling and interesting one. How many films do you see because so-and-so wrote it, and not because X directed or be-Y is starring in it? Chayefsky is an author to watch.—L.A.