Such Good Friends Blu-ray Review
The early 1970s must have been a troubling time for filmmakers. With the emergence of young stars and looser morals, films often had to do their best to keep up with the times to be deemed entertaining. Which is why the great Otto Preminger, whose early films include LAURA, THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN ARM, ANATOMY OF A MURDER and EXODUS tried his hand with the sex comedy SUCH GOOD FRIENDS.
Richard Messinger (Luckinbill) has the ideal life. He’s the photo editor of LIFE magazine and on the side has written a very successful children’s book entitled “Melancholy Matilda.” To celebrate the book’s tenth printing, Richard attends a party in his honor accompanied by his beautiful wife Julie (Cannon). But Richard is not in the partying mood. The next day he is scheduled to have surgery to have a mole removed from his neck. Very routine. So routine that he and his friends make up jokes in poor taste highlighting his death. Ironically, something does go wrong and Richard ends up in a coma. Julie visits daily but is also attracted to the idea of being a young and wanted woman again. When she finds Richard’s “little black book” and realizes he’s been sleeping with many of her friends she decides to live a little too. Probably not the best way to keeping a marriage happy!
A definite woman’s view on infidelity, SUCH GOOD FRIENDS was written by Elaine May (under the pseudonym Esther Dale), based on the novel by Lois Gould. From the opening scene, where Julie leaves the house wearing only a string vest it’s obvious that the women in this film will be neither needy nor stupid. This is reflected also in Julie’s friends, played by such familiar faces as Louise Lasser and Jennifer O’Neill. The film is also full of a who’s who of popular 1970s actors, including Ken Howard, James Coco and Lawrence Tierney. The film is recast with Cannon playing her third straight “liberated” woman after appearances in BOB & CAROL & TED & ALICE and THE LOVE MACHINE. Luckinbill really doesn’t have much to do but lie motionless in a hospital bed, though he does have some fine scenes that occur via flashbacks. And if you’ve ever wanted to see Burgess Meredith in the 70s version of a thong, then this is definitely the film for you. The writing is sharp but Preminger was a very unusual choice to direct this type of picture. Odd though it may be, it is refreshing to see a comedy from that early 70s that was trying to spread a message without hitting you over the head. Often times the script doesn’t really seem to fit the attitude on screen or the situations portrayed, but at least the filmmakers made the effort, something that was very lacking in other films of this type from this era. May’s wit is evident throughout, especially a scene where Julie has summoned (20) friends to the hospital to give blood. The various responses and expressions given when asked the customary questions are quite comical. Too bad that comedic consistency couldn’t be sustained throughout.
Video: Presented in a 1:78.1 aspect ratio, the film is dark and somewhat fuzzy. The various flashbacks, etc could have been lit better. Also, obvious print wear and scratches in some areas.
Audio: Available in DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, the sound is fine but occasionally it’s obvious the sound is out of sync with the images.
There are no extras on this disc.