The Ritz


(out of 5)

An old Italian patriarch dies and, on his deathbed, begs his son () to kill his son-in-law (), which Stiller is only happy to do in order to keep the targeted man from inheriting the family’s profitable garbage business.  On the run in disguise and in need of a the least likely place his vengeful in-law will find him, Weston stops in at a gay bathhouse, rents a room and endures hours of campy, silly fun while hiding out.  A chubby chaser is after him, a hot young is a private investigator (with a falsetto voice, one of the film’s many jokes that fall flat) is looking for him but keeps getting the wrong guy and, most colourful, a temperamental singer () is hoping her Bathhouse Betty routine will get noticed by a big time producer she is expecting to attend.  Based on the hit Broadway play by Terence McNally, this is a film whose provocative themes are watered down to keep audiences from being too shocked, the emphasis on sassy humour and wink-wink sex jokes that make the sight of extras in tiny towels populating the background easier to take.  It has moments of fun but it has no heart, its jokes never particularly clever or witty, with a weak plot whose mechanics are not properly worked out before too much exposition is saved for its conclusion.  It does have some standout moments, most of them involving Williams in very little clothing, a delightful but underused as Weston’s wife, and a young as a fellow bathhouse attendee.

Listen to BGM’s episode on The Ritz.


/USA, 1976

Directed by

Screenplay by , based on his play

Cinematography by

Produced by

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by

Film Editing by

Cast Tags:  

Golden Globe Award Nominations
Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical
Best Actor in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical (Jack Weston)
Best Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical (Rita Moreno)

British Academy Award Nomination
Best Actress (Rita Moreno)

Writers Guild Award Nomination
Best Comedy Adapted From Another Medium


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