Tuesday, February 13, 2018

I Love My Wife (1970)

          Yet another would-be comedy cataloging the “difficulties” of being a successful white dude with a stable marriage, I Love My Wife stars Elliott Gould as Dr. Richard Burrows, a self-centered prick whose insatiable lust masks a deep reservoir of self-loathing. There’s actually a respectable character study buried inside the feeble jokes and wobbly attempts at sex farce, so viewers sympathetic to Gould’s shaggy screen persona might be able to cherry-pick this overlong picture and imagine a better film comprising only the most thoughtful scenes. However, doing so requires tolerance for watching Richard cuckold his long-suffering wife; objectivity and deceive his adoring mistress; and regularly ignore his two children, who didn’t ask to get born into a dysfunctional family. Moreover, those who track down I Love My Wife hoping for sexy laughs are bound to be disappointed—although the movie features a steady procession of attractive women in erotic scenarios, the protagonist is an unbearable putz.
          A prologue shows Richard becoming fascinated with sex during his childhood and, later, losing his virginity to a hooker. Then he meets and marries Judy (Brenda Vaccaro), but she falls from Richard’s favor the minute she reveals she’s not that into oral sex. Worse, she gains weight after bearing his children—hence pitiful scenes of Richard sleeping with a sexy nurse (JoAnna Cameron) and complaining to her that his wife doesn’t understand him. After that dalliance runs its course, Richard aggressively pursues a married model, Helene (Angel Tompkins), who leaves her husband to be with Richard. But of course she’s not enough for him, since no one ever will be. You begin to see how a serious treatment of this material might have clicked, and in fact most of the actors play the material so straight that I Love My Wife feels like a drama much of the time. Alas, it seems writer Robert Kaufman and director Mel Stuart were after hilarity, or at least satire. Viewed from that perspective, the movie’s an utter failure.

 I Love My Wife: FUNKY


Guy Callaway said...

Ah...from those long-ago days when Gould and Dustin Hoffman were considered sex symbols. ;)

greg6363 said...

Was Hoffman ever considered a sex symbol?

Guy Callaway said...


Actually, yes. What's a hoot is looking back at the Rabbit Mag's yearly 'Sex Stars Of..' feature through the '70's. Many of the choices stagger the imagination.

greg6363 said...

Putting the media hype aside, I don't think there is a Hoffman performance that would exude sexuality from his on-screen character. "Little Big Man", "Papillion", "Lenny", "Marathon Man", "Kramer vs. Kramer", not even "The Graduate". It just might be one reason why his big screen career has endured over several decades while Gould's career faded by the late 70's.