Thursday, September 10, 2015

But I Don't Want to Get Married!

I sat and watched this TV movie when I was 11 in October of 1970 and I seem to recall enjoying it. Looking at it now is a whole 'nother thing. Ostensibly a comedy, it isn't really very funny and, in fact, the title doesn't even really apply as no one seems to be actually trying to marry our hero off except possibly his late wife's sister.  The film's sitcom premise is that Herschel Bernardi's wife has died 18 months earlier, leaving him with two boys. For no apparent reason, he suddenly becomes a chick magnet. Old pros Aaron Spelling and Jerry paris are the ones responsible, Paris being also the writer. As one of the folks behind THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW and a dozen other comedy classics, Paris--who also acts here--should have known better.

The premise is, of course, very similar to that of THE COURTSHIP OF EDDIE'S FATHER which had premiered the year before on TV. As if there was a need to drive this home, Brandon Cruz, who played Eddie, is also one of Bernardi's kids here. His other son is Teddy Eccles, a prolific child actor of the period who now produces cooking shows.

If it plays like a pilot, it didn't need to as Bernardi--a brilliant stage actor and a TV veteran who's just amazingly bland throughout most of this film--already had a sitcom going that year called ARNIE. The joy of this movie is the fact that literally almost every role is played by a recognizable actor!

Kathleen Freeman and Florence Halop are the nosy neighbors for instance.

Shirley Jones is radiant in full Mrs. Partridge mode--her series had premiered a month before--as a divorced woman in the same building who hits on our hero.

Kay Medford is the sister-in-law.

Here's Jerry paris as the best friend, used mainly for exposition.

Nanette Fabray is a surprisingly horny blind date.

Harry Morgan runs a call girl agency where Bernardi thinks he's hiring a maid. Penny Marshall is one of Harry's girls.

And Joyce Van Patten is the call girl who shows up!

Character actor Peter Hobbs is the boss, whose secretary...

Sue Lyon, quite literally throws herself at our protagonist and tricks him into accompanying him to a low-budget stage version of Cyrano de Bergerac.

In the play, Cyrano is played by Aaron Spelling's brother whilst Roxanne is played by an unbilled Cissy Colpitts (later Cisse Cameron) in what was most likely her first film, coming a year before her memorable appearance in BILLY JACK. She has no lines but looks lovely and has some funny physical bits. Eight years later, I would write her for an autograph and she would send me several signed photos.

That's Herschel Bernardi's brother Jack as Kathleen Freeman's husband.

Shirley looking the way her recent autobiography made her sound!

Tina Louise in a throwaway cameo as the son's prim, proper teacher who lets her hair down leading into a commercial.

And then we quite randomly meet June Lockhart at a PTA meeting in the last few minutes of the film. There has been no plot, just a series of situations. 

And the narrator refers to the happy ending here as they discuss her having two girls to his two boys and the concept of a BRADY BUNCH style sequel seems likely.

Seriously, it's much fun to see all these folks in their prime but there's NO substance at all to BUT I DON'T WANT TO GET MARRIED!


1 comment:

top_cat_james said...

Paris fared much better two years later with another star-packed TV movie, the genuinely funny Evil Roy Slade.