S.O.B. (1981)

“If you want to dramatize the evils of prostitution, corrupt a virgin — not a whore!”

Synopsis:
A Hollywood producer (Richard Mulligan) despondent over the failure of his most recent kiddie musical must deal with his furious studio head (Robert Vaughn), a relentlessly shrewish gossip columnist (Loretta Swit), and his fed-up wife and leading lady (Julie Andrews). When Mulligan becomes inspired to turn his flop into a soft-core porn flick, he faces mixed reactions from everyone involved — including his director (William Holden), his best friend (Robert Webber), and Andrews herself.

Genres:

Review:
An all-star cast rallies together for Blake Edwards’ darkly satirical look at the vagaries of Hollywood, where a box office flop can lead to existential despair, and (in a running gag) people are too distracted to notice a dead corpse washed up on the shore outside their beachfront home. Edwards is cynical all right: purportedly this film was made in response to his own experience making Darling Lili (1970) with Andrews, and he spares no one in taking down the narcissistic excesses of the movie industry. Unfortunately, it’s simply not funny watching this crew of self-absorbed players going about their lives. Edwards had achieved success as a comedic director with his wildly popular Pink Panther series — including the title film as well as A Shot in the Dark (1964) — and he fills this film with every antic trope in the book, including foiled suicides, pesky corpses, potty humor, “boobies” jokes, wild car chases, sexual chicanery, and demeaning racial stereotypes. The film does have its fans: see Vincent Canby’s review for the New York Times, for instance, or DVD Savant’s assertion that “there’s wit to most of the characterizations, and the constant ribbing of Hollywood’s venality and lust for power and wealth is spot-on”; however, I simply found this a tedious chore to sit through.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Julie Andrews trying her best

Must See?
Nope; you can skip this one unless you’re a diehard Julie Andrews or Blake Edwards fan.

Links:

3 Responses to “S.O.B. (1981)”

  1. A classic. A favourite since first seeing it on HBO circa 1982. Gaspingly hilarious from start to finish and as for the racial stereotypes; par for the course at the time.

  2. First viewing.

    Tiresome from the get-go. I had to watch it in half-hour sections, just to get through it. Criminally unfunny, dull, embarrassing – skip it.

  3. A ‘dead corpse’?!

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