Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Film review:
A Fine Madness (1966)

One of the joys of having TCM included in your cable package is discovering movies which have somehow slipped you by over the past four decades. Sadly, A Fine Madness (1966) is not one of the cases for celebration.

Sean Connery takes the lead role of tortured poet Samson Shillitoe, with Joanne Woodward largely wasted as current wife Rhoda, forced to work as a waitress whilst the beligerent bard stumbles around New York, seducing virtually anything female with a pulse and moaning - incessantly - about his inability to complete his second poetry cycle. No one appears sure whether this is a drama about creative insanity, an adult comedy (for its period, that is; the only naked chest we see is Connery's) or some hamfisted combination of the two.

Whilst we ponder the tagline "We should all be so crazy", our poet dodges city cops to avoid paying alimony to his first wife, acts with no concern for anyone but himself, sails through a lobotomy with no obvious effect and reacts to the news of Rhoda's pregnancy by punching her on a public street. As Shillitoe fends off an outraged crowd, THE END fills the screen, and barely a minute too soon.

I realise attitudes were different 43 years ago, but surely even back then, audiences would have had difficulty identifying with a violent, adulterous wifebeater who believes the world owes him a living because he sold fewer than 200 copies of his only volume of poetry? Maybe there's a good reason I'd never caught up with it.

[First published on Livejournal, February 2009]

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