“I think I’ve got rabies.”
When a bored housewife (Shirley MacLaine) in New York City is bit by a stray cat, her lawyer-husband (Kenneth Mars) insists she have her hand looked at by a doctor; meanwhile, Sophie (MacLaine) reflects back on a former affair and socializes with various friends — including her husband’s soon-to-be ex-partner (Gerald S. O’Loughlin) and a former-activist friend (Sada Thompson) who is visited frequently by her ex-boyfriend (Jack Somack).
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Marital Problems
- Shirley MacLaine Films
Playwright Frank D. Gilroy’s directorial debut was this adaptation of a novel by Paula Fox about an upper-middle-class childless wife seeking meaning and connection of some kind. Despite MacLaine’s decent performance, it’s excruciatingly challenging to care much about her character’s overall malaise; in an interview, Fox herself complained that the film “lacked a certain kind of inner gravity”. Sophie’s life is at least beautifully shot, as we see her lounging around in her apartment:
… wandering the city in the wee hours of the morning with O’Loughlin:
… and having lunch in the cavernous apartment of her very-odd friends.
Eventually she and Mars end up at their summer house, where they encounter an unpleasant surprise:
… but again, it’s hard to feel too sorry for this privileged if clearly troubled couple. If the point is that money can’t buy happiness, point taken — but it’s been made elsewhere many times, to more lasting effect.
Note: It was interesting reading DVD Savant’s review of this film, in which he refers to it as “a real downer, an intelligent but unrewarding slice of despair” that is “a theater owner’s worst nightmare, a picture that inspires mass walkouts.” He notes that it “must be the antithesis of a Date Flick,” as he “can’t imagine a marginal relationship surviving the experience of a trip to this picture.”
Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:
- Urs Furrer’s cinematography
Nope. Listed as a Sleeper and a Personal Recommendation in the back of Peary’s book.