Robert Blossom (Richard Attenborough) is a brassiere manufacturer and a serious workaholic. His wife, Harriet (Shirley MacLaine), is quite lonely and tired of spending all day on housework.
When her sewing machine breaks one day, Ambrose Tuttle (James Booth) is sent from Mr. Blossom’s factory to repair it. After spending a lot of time doing anything but fixing the sewing maching – playing pool, and having tea – Harriet and Ambrose end up in bed together, in the attic.
Ambrose hides in the attic when Robert comes home from work, and Harriet tells him to leave the house during the night. But the next day she finds that Ambrose is still hiding in the attic, and decides to let him stay there. For a very long time. Years, in fact. Unbeknownst to both her husband, and the two detectives that are investigating Ambrose’s sudden disappearance.
Directed by Joseph McGrath (famed for 1967’s Casino Royale) this crazy British comedy is (very loosely) based on the true story of Dolly Oesterreich, who kept her lover hidden in the attic for ten years, even after moving from Milwaukee to Los Angeles.
The film opens with a bit of hilarious narration, setting up the film’s general plot and how Ambrose came to be sent to the Blossom home. It then moves into the equally hilarious and somewhat psychedelic action, and Ambrose and Harriet carry out their affair.
The dialogue is a bit contrived and choppy at times, but thanks to the fantastic performances, this is much less distracting than it would have been with less capable actors. MacLaine and Booth are particularly fantastic.
The foundation of the plot is quite solid and intriguing, and there are a few very interesting developments along the way. But the film as a whole just seems like a huge string of one funny scene after another. It’s a bit odd and won’t appeal to viewers who prefer very plot driven films, but if you like a little bit of the strange mixed into your movie consumption, it’s very enjoyable.
Much of the dialogue is humorous, though the real laughs come from the wacky fantasy sequences that pepper the film. MacLaine and Booth always take part in these sequences, appearing to travel through time and to different areas of the world – a visual representation of the excitement of their relationship.
Even in reality, they often dress is costume, making the film very wonderful in a visual sense. The colors are extremely vibrant. The wardrobe and decor are mod to the extreme. And beyond that, the use of interesting angles adds to the film’s psychedelic and somewhat crazy mood.
There are many words that could describe this film: quirky, offbeat, light, bubbly, charming. But more than anything, it’s simply a weird and wonderful comedy elevated by great performances and a stunning use of color. The score: 4/5
*All screen captures used in this review were taken by me. Click on the images for full-size view! The quality is somewhat low because I watched the film on Netflix, but they’ll give you a taste of what to expect if you decide to watch this wacky piece of work.
This sounds great! I’ve never even heard of it. I’d love to see Shirley MacLaine and Richard Attenborough on film together.
I hadn’t heard of it either, until I stumbled upon it on Netflix. I love Shirley so I knew immediately that I had to watch it. Let me know what you think of it, if you get the chance to see it!