Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Owl and the Pussycat (Herbert Ross, 1970)

I might lose some geek credits here, but I happen to like Barbra Streisand. I think she's a great singer, and a pretty good actress. That's not to say I love all her films. The Way We Were is a favorite, despite being a tad melodramatic. Oddly, I think The Owl and the Pussycat is one of her better acting performances.

George Segal (Just Shoot Me, The Duchess and the Dirtwater Fox) plays Felix Sherman, a budding novelist and scared New Yorker. Streisand plays Doris, a model/actress/go-go dancer/occasional prostitute. The two live in the same apartment building. Doris complains about Felix's typewriter, and Felix complains about Doris' television and "paid guests." The two begin arguing loudly, and are each ejected from the building, sticking together for unknown reasons. A series of living arrangements and arguments ensue before they finally come to terms.



Buck Henry (Saturday Night Live, Get Smart, The Graduate) wrote the screenplay from the play by Bill Manhoff. It is full of fun, quick dialogue, similar in many ways to His Girl Friday (Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell). While much of the action is indoors, there is a lot of great location bits. Also appearing is comedian Robert Klein and Marilyn Chambers in her first acting credit (a mere eighteen, and quite Marcia Brady looking).



Getting back to the start of this post, this is a great film for Streisand, who I feel is well suited for comedy, but also has a lot of great little affectations that improve the performance. She is a real "face actor" here, conveying a lot with looks or changes in expression without being hammy. Her Doris behaves, physically, in a very believable fashion despite the cartoonish nature of the character. Also, she's playing against a serious character actor in Segal. The one thing that may prevent Segal from being one of the great character actors is that he is recognizable. He isn't "oh yeah, that guy." He is a talented actor, and he and Streisand play off each other very nicely.



Also, this is one of Streisand's sexier films. Not just the subject matter, which gets a tad racy for the time perhaps, she looks very sexy (not that I typically find her unattractive). Maybe it's all the trashy lingerie? More likely it is that she is playing sexy, a topic that the characters discuss in the film. She has always had a bit of a chip on her shoulder about not being a typical American beauty. This is fortunate in that she didn't butcher herself with plastic surgery, but unfortunate in that she did not do as much comedy. Comedy has always been the domain of the non-prom-queen in Hollywood. Shunning that, she wanted to be a dramatic lead; a move she has had success with, but I think she has great timing and delivery for comedy.



This one is well worth watching. Netflix only has it on DVD, but is is free on Hulu. Links below.





3 comments:

The Angry Lurker said...

Always liked Streisand,what a nose and a good movie.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I still need to see a few of the older movies like "A Star is Born" and "The Main Event," but definitely liked this one. The music is pretty cool as well. Not sure if Blood, Sweat and Tears did all of it, or just the one song.

Anonymous said...

THIS IS A GREAT MOVIE AND STREISAND IS AS SEXY AS ANY WOMAN ON FILM....THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GIRL AND A WOMAN. STREISAND IS A WOMAN.

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