DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
JUST TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT (director: Sidney Lumet; screenwriter: Jay Presson Allen/based on her novel; cinematographer: Oswald Morris; editor: John J. Fitzstephens; music: Charles Strouse; cast: Myrna Loy (Stella Liberti), Alan King (Max Herschel), Dina Merrill (Connie Herschel), Peter Weller (Steven ), Ali MacGraw (Bones Burton), Keenan Wynn (Seymour Berger), Tony Roberts (Mike Berger), Judy Kaye (Baby), Sara Truslow (Cathy), Joseph Maher (Dr. Coleson); Runtime: 112; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Jay Presson Allen/Sidney Lumet; Warner Home Video; 1980)

 
"Silly rom-com, that dishes out its comedy in an aggressive NYC style."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Sidney Lumet ("Daniel"/"Deathtrap"/"The Morning After") directs this silly rom-com, that dishes out its comedy in an aggressive NYC style. It's enjoyable to see the always regal Myrna Loy, in her last feature film. Alan King lights up the screen in a flamboyant performance, where he makes his obnoxious controlling magnate character somewhat human. Ali MacGraw makes the most of her role as a feisty kept woman looking for love. The most pleasant surprise is Keenan Wynn's warm performance as an elderly Jewish goniff rival of King's. Jay Presson Allen's screenplay, based on her novel, plays with some sophisticated comedy blended together with burlesque vulgarity and inside jokes about Hollywood. It's never funny enough, nor is it ever left high and dry without some meat on its plate. I think it's the kind of film best enjoyed by those who believe even bitches and bastards deserve to find romance.

Max Herschel (Alan King) is married to Connie (Dina Merrill), an alcoholic being treated in a private sanitarium. His mistress of the last fourteen years Bones Burton (Ali MacGraw), a TV producer for the studio he owns, has met younger struggling playwright Steven Routledge (Peter Weller) and in anger that Max doesn't get her to produce a movie she marries the ambitious hack writer. Max then schemes to win back Bones, which includes making a deal with his rival Seymour Berger (Keenan Wynn) who owns a Hollywood movie studio run by his arty son (Tony Roberts).

The crazy antics of all the neurotic characters include a fistfight between Bones and Max in the posh Bergdorf-Goodman's department store that demolishes most of the ground floor and a valued porcelain vase used in an unusual business  trade. Other characters get into the act of the battle of the sexes, with Max's long-suffering loyal secretary being the only even-keeled one in the bunch.

It's trashy stuff that benefits greatly from the talented cast, but has nothing on the kinda of zany screwball comedies Loy once starred in back in the day.

REVIEWED ON 5/28/2011       GRADE: B-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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