An American Dream (1966)

ROBERT GIST

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 .  Academy Awards 1966.

Television host and war hero  has separated from ridiculously wealthy, self-destructive wife , 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 (, 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.

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