An American Dream (1966)


Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BB

Alternate title:  See You In Hell, Darling

USA, 1966.  Screenplay by , based on the novel by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Television host and war hero Stuart Whitman has separated from ridiculously wealthy, self-destructive wife Eleanor Parker, going to visit her in her penthouse when she lets him know that she has just returned from abroad.  After they endure a nasty fight that shows off Parker’s superb dramatic talents in one powerful sequence, she falls thirty stories from her balcony, conveniently landing on a mob boss that the police have been after for ages and who Whitman has been publicly criticizing.  He has also been accusing the cops of failing to catch the mobster because of their own corruption, which makes for no end of fun as they all end up in the police precinct together.  Whitman is automatically accused of pushing his wife to her death, and is also reunited with a jazz singer turned gangster moll (Janet Leigh, in a ripping good performance) whom he previously abandoned to marry the now deceased woman.

Great work from the actors does little good to this overly indulgent and dull adaptation of the novel by Norman Mailer, one that keeps forgetting to keep the plot moving and instead gets mired down in the antics of brutish masculinity that the author’s work is always obsessed with (just hunch your back and say the same three words over and over again, everyone will find it fascinating).  Leigh’s accusing eyes and manner cut through the boredom so beautifully, but the film takes forever to decide if it’s about uncovering facts or dealing with the main character’s emotional resolution for his situation, and neither are worth the wait.

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Song (“A Time For Love”)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s