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USA 1981
Directed by
Peter Bogdanovich
115 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1 stars

They All Laughed

Coming in somewhere between the tedious and the incomprehensible, Peter Bogdanovich’s film about some Manhattan private detectives (Ben Gazzara, John Ritter and Blaine Novak) who are tailing a couple of married women (Audrey Hepburn and Dorothy Stratten) on behalf of their jealous husbands is a film that really should never have been made (20th Century-Fox shelved the film for a year before Bogdanovich purchased it and  tried to distribute it himself) as it is so lacking in sense or anything, bar some good looking women that might distract one from that same lack.

The story largely involves the three unlikely gumshoes clumsily following the two women with the Gazzara character falling for the Audrey Hepburn character and vice versa and the John Ritter character falling for the Dorothy Stratten character and vice versa.  In the manner of the classic screwball comedies that Bogdanovich so admires this contrived scenario is brought off with staggering narrative glibness whilst for good measure there are a couple of other romantic liaisons (the ceaselessly bemused Gazzara character being deemed a chick-magnet of enviable powers) involving a country-and-western singer (Colleen Camp) and a spunky cab driver (Patti Hansen, who would go on soon thereafter to marry Keith Richards and never need to work again) that are equally cavalier in their unfolding,

All this drones along with that distinctively 80s sense of smug self-satisfaction in its wittiness which to the unconverted is at best witless gimmickry, the most insistent example of which being Blaine Novak, who was also the film’s co-producer and co-scriptwriter, spending most of the film on roller-skates and shaking his very long very curly hair about). Hepburn presumably knew the Bogdanovich of the successful What’s Up Doc? (1972) and was expecting more of the same as there is no other explanation of what she is doing in this lame production which doesn’t even have the misguided aspirations of  Bogdanovich's disastrous 1975 musical rom-com, At Long Last Love (this film is also propped up with various songs from the 1930s including the Gershwin song which gives the film its name and that Fred Astaire introduced in Shall We Dance).

FYI: The film is dedicated to Stratten, a one-time Playboy Playmate of the Year who was having an affair with Bogdanovich and whose husband shortly after the film’s completion murdered her and then committed suicide. Her story is told in Bob Fosse's Star 80 (1983).




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