FOR PETE’S SAKE (1974)
Running Time: 90 mins. Rating: xx Stars/5 Stars
MPAA Rating: PG
Director: Peter Yates
Distributor: Columbia Pictures
Cast: Barbra Streisand, Michael Sarrazin, Estelle Parsons, Molly Picon, William Redfield
For Pete’s Sake leave this un-disinterred. RIP
I didn’t see this picture, FOR PETE’S SAKE, when it came out because the notion, as the picture was marketed at the time, about Barbra Streisand turning tricks to support her husband, was ugly and prima facia ugly. Now that I’ve seen it I have to say I’m glad I didn’t waste a dollar or how ever much it cost to see a movie at the time. It is flat out awful. Really, it’s nothing more than a series of gags constructed for Babs that are executed on a sub- I Love Lucy level. It’s strange because director Peter Yates has shown himself to be a master of very complicated mise en scene in action films like BULLITT. Here it’s clear that no one working on this picture has the slightest sense of humor.
Pete, a cab driver, wants to be rich and has the opportunity to invest in pork bellies (see, it’s funny already). His wife borrows the money from a loan shark and can’t pay it back. Instead of being rubbed out for not paying back her loan her contract is sold, first to a madam who turns out Babs but, guess what, she has a series of hilarious accidents and never actually has sex. So typical. Right down to PRETTY WOMAN, Hollywood movie hookers never, ever, have sex. Then one belabored, unfunny, poorly played and poorly executed gag after another. Michael Sarrazin, as Babs’ husband, is injected onto the screen at intervals for reasons neither he nor the director really understands. In the old days, when women ruled the box office, women were the biggest and most important stars. The male stars were known as leading men. They were around to give the women something to play off of. In FOR PETE’S SAKE Barbra Streisand doesn’t need anyone else to play off of. As a comic she has eliminated the straight man. The results are monumentally flat. And so unfunny. Just terrible.
This will make you appreciate Peter Bogdanovich all the more, his ability to produce a coherent, constantly funny comedy with multiple characters playing off each other. Even the little known I WONDER WHO’S KILLING HER NOW, with a similar structure, is a masterpiece compared to this ego trip. I have the terrible feeling that Streisand had become a monster by this time and did everything her way, and the only thing that was photographed here was her out-sized ego. It’s not for nothing that this bummer never gets revived. Like Orson Welles, she directed from in front of the camera. Except that Welles had talent. Streisand only has fans.
P.S. As if one didn’t have enough reason to hate these people for appearing in a crap movie, check out the huge apartment across the street from Prospect Park. In New York we hate people with great apartments like this especially if they’re rent controlled.
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