Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker (1971)

          “That’s the main drawback of this particular hobby,” notes Bill Alren. “The feeling of shame.” Alren’s hobby is spying on women in various states of undress, whether that manifests at peeking up a coworker’s skirt while she bends over or using binoculars to ogle bikini-clad ladies on a beach near his house in Los Angeles. As you might imagine, Bill’s hobby is a source of friction in his marriage to the beautiful but anguished Lisa (Joanna Shimkus). Even though Bill makes a good living as a stockbroker and provides her with a comfortable home, she’s frustrated by the mindless rhythms of a childless housewife’s lifestyle, so the discovery of Bill’s proclivity for peeping is the final straw. Since she leaves Bill within the first half-hour of The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker, the bulk of the movie concerns Bill’s attempts to gain control over his lascivious impulses and to woo Lisa back into his life. Created by two of the key players behind The Graduate (1967), novelist Charles Webb and producer Lawrence Turman, this picture lacks the sociological heft of its predecessor, but it’s a respectable hybrid of comedy and drama with a few pithy observations about modern relationships.
          Among the film’s strongest elements are Richard Benjamin’s leading performance and the intelligent (if occasionally glib) screenplay by Lorenzo Semple Jr. Benjamin and Semple operate on the same level, articulating melancholy from the safety of a sarcastic remove, but because the central character is in some ways experiencing his own life from an outside-in perspective—he’s aware of the damage he inflicts but can’t or won’t stop himself—the arm’s-length style works. Turman, making his directorial debut, generates unhurried pacing that allows the gently plaintive textures of Fred Karlin’s score to add emotional dimensions. Yet Turman misfires a few times, especially during the climax, so there’s a reason a decade elapsed before he helmed another film: His work is adequate but not special. The same could be said of the film overall. It’s a little bit amusing, a little bit insightful, and a little bit sexy, but one strains to define any area in which the content or execution is superlative. Still, there’s a lot to enjoy here, and the cast is colorful: Elizabeth Ashley plays Lisa’s sister, Adam West plays the husband of Ashley’s character, and B-movie queen Tiffany Bolling plays a mysterious seductress.

The Marriage of a Young Stockbroker: FUNKY


greg6363 said...

This film was screened recently at the American Cinemateque in L.A. When asked by the moderator why the film hasn't been released on any form of home video, director Lawrence Turman simply said, "Because it sucks". Always refreshing for a major film producer/director to provide a blunt, honest assessment of his work. Shimkus later became Mrs. Sidney Poitier.

Marc said...

Have read about this movie before, but have not yet seen it. Your description makes it sound like the movie itself soft-pedals what the poster intends to exploit. Fascinating to me, the combination of talent here associated with a story that means for us to identify with what seems like an unpleasant perv (played by Richard Benjamin, to boot). Ahh, the gloriously strange 70s.

aceblackblog. said...

Film sounds intriguing...minor typo in the post: a couple of digits are transposed in the year for The Graduate.