Sunday, September 25, 2016

Hurry Up or I’ll Be 30 (1973)

          An adequate character study that owes a huge debt of gratitude to the Paddy Chayefsky-penned classic Marty (1955), this quiet little picture follows a sad-sack New Yorker who tries to expand his universe beyond childhood friends and the family business. Cowriter, producer, and director Joseph Jacoby has a good touch with actors, getting naturalistic work from his entire cast, and Jacoby captures the way that working-class folks from the outer boroughs sometimes develop romantic illusions about Manhattan and its denizens. Also working in the movie’s factor is Jacoby’s take on sophisticated urbanites taking Brooklyn natives for rubes. In some ways, Hurry Up or I’ll Be 30 is a conventional coming-of-age flick, even though arrested development means the protagonist doesn’t face his developmental crisis until well after the conclusion of adolescence. In other ways, the picture is a simple exploration of how divisions of class, education, and ethnicity lead to prejudice. The film is very much a minor work, and it suffers for weak elements including a dopey musical score, but there’s something humane and real about what Jacoby has to say.
          George Trapani (John Lefkowitz) works for his father’s small printing company, but he’s bored with rituals like cruising with his friends while trying to score with local girls. One day, George meets a theatrical producer named Mark Lossier (Frank Quinn), who invites George to an audition because he thinks he can squeeze George for an investment. During the degrading audition, Mark compels desperate women to perform a scene topless in front of salivating would-be investors. Willowy actress Jackie (Linda De Coff) impresses George by politely refusing to strip, so when he encounters her later, he asks her out. They date for a while, but then George realizes she’s slumming with him, leading George to question whether he’ll ever truly escape the confining identity he inherited at birth.
         While nothing in Hurry Up or I’ll Be 30 is surprising, Jacoby seems more concerned with generating empathy for George, as well as for characters including Jackie and Mark. George discovers that even though their worlds are larger than his, they have their own problems. As portrayed by Lefkowitz with a bowl cut and a hangdog face, George is a moderately appealing protagonist. He’s admirable when he tries, and he’s pathetic when he tries too hard. Still, the movie never feels judgmental, especially because Jacoby shows George being repeatedly humiliated by his father. The mostly unknown actors comprising the supporting cast lend additional layers of credibility, and a young Danny DeVito fits right into the mix as one of George’s pals.

Hurry Up or I’ll Be 30: FUNKY

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