Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 3. 14th March 1973
The two new films released in Wellingion last Friday do little to compensate for the long list of leaden oldies running with them. Both of them, "Stand Up and Be Counted" and "Man of La Mancha", invite strong reproof, not the accolades lavished upon them by impulsive critics. The serious nature of their subject matter fails to conceal their cinematic shoddincss, and indicates the confused sincerity of their makers rather than their depth of understanding.
The problem with "Stand Up and Be Counted" is that it tackles the feminist revolulion . . . lock, stock and barrel. Rather than concentrating on one plausible example, it sets out to cover the whole field by presenting a gallery of hackneyed situations involving even more easy to identify with characters. An improbable plot, which consists of the remedy for a quartet of sick liasons in the form of a good dose of Women's Lib. takes care of such factors as progression and climax; but inflicts nasty wounds with the dialogue as a predictable side effect. The men converse in a short hand for male chauvinists, the women in a rhetorical style reminiscent of Dr Greer's Playboy interview .... a marriage that is condemned to failure from the outset, and which refuses to explain the ideology behind both sides of the argument. The insultingly predictable conclusion — no scars! — is victory to all the sensible female dissentors, but the trumpet of such a triumph has one hell of a hollow ring.
It is with some regret that I have to report that this turgid mess was conceived and perpetrated by a woman, one Jackie Cooper; whether it was over misplaced enthusiasm or downright incompetence she stumbles I do not know but someone should have been kind enough to tell her the world just don't turn like that. Admittedly, her leading ladies. Jacqueline (I'm socially conscious) Bisset and Stella (when do I get my rocks off) Stevens, seem so thoroughly convinced it's no joke, I doubt if there was anyone woman enough to persuade her to quit. She should have - it's a fucking bad film.
"Man of La Mancha" has no time for reality, and all its faults are almost direct opposites to those of 'Stand Up' Scriptwriter Hal Wasserman knows his Don Quixote inside out; thus it does not strike him as odd that an eight-hundred page novel cannot be comfortably accommodated in two hours of high blown cinema. The material is dense to the point of being harrowing, every line of dialogue reaches further into the quixotic dilemma. Unfortunately such a riot of philosophical speculations are embarrassed guests in a musical, that gentle genre for those in search of joie de vivre. The sheer incongruity of man's deeper purpose hand in hand with can can numbers threatens to turn the movie into a bizarre black comedy; something director Arthur Miller (Love Story, Hospital) cannot seem to avoid. What is worse is that he knows nothing about musicals — the routines are pitiful, the singing worse, the settings cheap and barren — nor does he know much about their transcription from stage to screen. If we must have musicals, let them be sweet and kind: if we must have the condition of man, let it be in a format it deserves. Miss this one too.
The Union films did nothing to make this week's viewing any more pleasant — "Something for Everyone" was something for no-one and "Yellow Submarine" no longer fits the bill as an innovation. But then there are goodies on the way; the list includes many American A grades e.g. "The Last Picture Show", "Five Easy Pieces", "The French Connection", a few B grades e.g. "Vanishing Point", "Bob, Carol, Ted and Alice", and unfortunately, only one or two really solid movies. Personally, I feel the fare to be a little lean, but then again there will be the opportunity to shoot up some nostalgia, and that's fine with me.