Such Good Friends (1971) Poster

User Reviews

Review this title
9 Reviews
Sort by:
Filter by Rating:
9/10
Dissipated urban humor
moonspinner551 January 2001
A sharp, deadpan-hilarious dark comedy which never found its audience, probably because there are so many different targets set up by the material: modern marriage, adultery, doctors, hospitals, the literary world, sexual fantasies, sexual positions, Jewishness, lesbian experimentation, revenge (maybe feminist revenge) and, of course, the hard work of dying--which brings everything full circle by the finale. Director Otto Preminger chases after the pungent satire in Elaine May's script (under a pseudonym) in every direction, and yet the film doesn't feel scattershot; it is a rude, wicked rose in constant bloom. The wife of a celebrated writer and magazine editor in New York City finds out her husband's been cheating on her within their circle of friends--and this discovery comes while he's in the hospital dying after having had a mole removed! Dyan Cannon delivers one of her best performances; she's glib, bitter, sexy and naughty, which helps viewers overlook the fact the tone of the movie sometimes has an icy pallor. One of Pauline Kael's complaints was that Cannon's character goes after men without seeing the irony of her actions--that she has no self-respect--and this in fact may be true. We never learn where the wife's priorities lie; she's a good mother to her boys, she's a good listener when her friends come around to bitch, but she's too encompassed in thoughts of the past or in trying to stay strong to figure out how being cheated on really makes her feel. Preminger gets fine performances out of a colorful cast, and there are big laughs in the film, but cutting-edge comedies can also cut too deeply without nimble handling. Preminger isn't very careful, but that may be intentional. ***1/2 from ****
17 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Great satire of the New York way of life
alberto-2730 June 2000
29 years before American Beauty, Otto Preminger destroys the icons of american life, from the husband to the mother to the medical doctor, in a vitriolic satire where only the wronged ones gain the viewer's sympathy.

Ever asked yourself why you should be faithful to your husband/wife? See this movie. I loved it.
10 out of 12 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
10/10
SUCH GOOD FRIENDS more deserving of Best Film of 1971
kremer58 April 2003
Warning: Spoilers
WARNING: Just a potential spoiler.

Granted, seeing Gene Hackman, as hard-boiled New York cop Popeye Doyle, speeding doggedly through the West Side of New York City in a comandeered vehicle, chasing a subway holding the man who just attempted to assassinate him, is still electrifying. There has been no other chase scene quite like it. Yes, there is a definite style in William Friedkin's now classic cat-and-mouse police-badge drama, but this does not necessarily mean that The French Connection is completely removed from the characteristic cool-cops-on-the-take actioneers so prevalent in the seventies. Also granted, it is no extraordinary wonder why the Academy named the film as the Best Picture of 1971, but there were indeed far more deserving films, some of which went unjustly neglected by the naked golden-boy Oscar. That same year, there were films which, unlike any other cinematic year, went unrecognized: Ivan Passer's narcotics drama BORN TO WIN, John Schlesinger's crisp, complex and very British love triangle SUNDAY BLOODY SUNDAY, Jerry Schatzberg's shattering portrait of heroin addiction THE PANIC IN NEEDLE PARK, Paul Newman's adaptation of Ken Kesey's SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION and Otto Preminger's exceptional, hilarious satire SUCH GOOD FRIENDS, based on the bestselling novel by Lois Gould and adapted with panache and acidic wit by Elaine May (under the pen name Esther Dale). Shortly before the release of Such Good Friends, the New York Times critics, following a special advance screening, declared that this picture had one-of-a-kind virtuoso style and strong direction, but would offend quite a few people. No doubt, this statement was accurate. Integrating absurdist images and surrealistic scenes, it is most likely the only film in which you will catch a very pompous Burgess Meredith dancing half-naked, with only loin-cloth and rose, at a high-brow urban terrace party. It is the only film where you will likely see Dyan Cannon shamelessly throwing herself at an obese and greatly embarassed family physician, played with great skill by James Coco. It is the only film you will likely see in which a congregation preparing to donate blood to their friend nearly turn the event into a full-scale cocktail party. All this thrown into one motion picture makes for a sharp, lively microcosm of the mediocrities of wedlock and, ultimately, an unforgettable portrayal of the self-gratifying, solipsistic American fast-track life-all thanks to the always masterful direction of the notoriously tempestuous Otto Preminger. Beginning with the now-famous title treatment by the legendary Saul Bass, we meet Julie Messinger as she is deciding on what to wear to a party in honor of her artist husband Richard. The opening scene is quaintly voyeuristic, as the audience spies on her in her own little world, accented with her clad in brassiere and stockings. She bickers with her maid, makes peace between her two young children in the midst of an argument and tries her best to ignore her painfully conceited mother. Taking a sexy fish-net top out of its box and putting it on without a brassiere, she stares proudly at herself in the mirror and says `Take a good look at me. This is what I am. Do you still want me for your wife?' This is our heroine, the complete antithesis of Ms. Cannon's portrayal of Alice in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice. Julie is a woman who is untamed and sexually ferocious in isolated moments, but one who immediately closes up in the presence of her husband and `friends,' simply reacting to others solely because of her insecurity. She shakes her head politely and says things like `That's wonderful,' a complementary trait to her complicated emotional façade and a checkered past. This is a woman with a crippling disability, if not debilitating-a character stunningly portrayed by the always gorgeous Dyan Cannon. We meet the Cannon character's husband Richard, is a fervently arrogant and chauvanistic heel, apathetic to his wife's and his children's needs. He makes snide comments about things like the `Third World Film Festival' and refuses the potential comfort from his wife to satisfy his fixed neuroses prior to a simple mole-removal operation. He buys pet hampsters for his sons, stating cynically `I didn't grow soft. I just want to make sure that if I die, I will generate enough guilt in my children to drive them into analysis.' It is not at all true that he is a character totally devoid of feeling or Chekhovian balance, but it is essential to the film's structure that he be the vessel by which Julie's emotional façade is gradually deconstructed to reveal a startlingly free woman, ready to shed superficial friendships and a contradictory membership to a seemingly rich image of a rich society of people. The film's only rival in achieving the particular intention of demystifying a rich society's stance on outward appearance, or moral if you will, was to come the following year with Luis Buñuel's biting French-made satire THE DISCREET CHARM OF THE BOURGEOISIE. When the film ended, as with most of Preminger's works, it left me breathless by the time of the final fade-out. Indeed, the film could have definitely evolved into trite melodrama reminiscent of Harold Robbins, but Dyan Cannon's impeccable performance as a feeling woman wanting to break free of an emotional strait-jacket and Preminger's handling of an overwhelmingly challenging script are stunning-so stunning that I am shocked and dismayed that Oscar totally ignored the performance and the film itself. Cannon's performance exhibits great pathos, ranging from tender to amusing to bitter to self-pitying to insecure. I will give you an example of this versatility: the scene where the grand Ms. Cannon puts down `good friend' Jennifer O'Neill, not with malice but, as a fellow IMDB critic said, like a true lady.or the scene where, for once in her life, she responds to the egotism of her mother (Nina Foch), and lets her have it with a nice, easy intensity.

To end this analysis/rationale of this film's merit, I acknowledge the likes of critics like The Village Voice's Andrew Sarris and the New York Times' Vincent Canby. They called the film `a breath of fresh air' and `superior, one of the year's ten best.' Too bad the film, like so many other Preminger works (BUNNY LAKE IS MISSING, SKIDOO, TELL ME THAT YOU LOVE ME, JUNIE MOON just to name a few), has continued to go unreleased onto video and unshown anywhere.and finally to the people who could establish it as a cult classic. Besides a few scattered showings on eighties television, it has disappeared from everyone's memory. Sad, sad, sad, sad, sad.
13 out of 19 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
4/10
Such an OK movie
JasparLamarCrabb19 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Not great, but certainly among the best of director Otto Preminger's later films, SUCH GOOD FRIENDS benefits greatly from a clever screenplay written by Elaine May. Dyan Cannon checks husband Laurence Luckinbill into the hospital to have a mole removed and before he's "released," she finds out way too much about his extramarital dalliances --- what she finds out isn't pleasant. Preminger, whose films usually feature women without virtues, gives Cannon the rare opportunity to carry a film on her own and she's quite possibly perfect! She slowly realizes that her husband is rotten to the core. She's also supplied with a lot of bitchy one-liners by May. The supporting cast is top flight: Nina Foch, Ken Howard, James Coco and Jennifer O'Neill. Also, if you've ever wanted to see Burgess Meredith in the buff, here's your chance.
7 out of 9 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Let's play doctor.....
mark.waltz9 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Who would think that a mole removal could cause such an ordeal for married couple Lawrence Luckinbill and Dyan Cannon? But it does. As this stupid mole keeps chaffing on Luckinbill's shirt, he decides to have the darn thing taken off his neck. But before you can say, "Calling Dr. Kildare!", he's in a coma, and everybody in Manhattan he knows is anxiously giving blood. Frantic wife Dyan Cannon finds out her husband wasn't so faithful to her, so she goes on a sexual rampage, seducing their photographer friend Ken Howard with limp results and going out of her way to satisfy the doctor friend (James Coco) who operated on Luckinbill in the first place. Portly Coco is hysterical as he tries to get out of his corset without Cannon noticing he has it on. If that visual isn't hysterically gross, try this one on: Burgess Meredith in the buff. Yes, if you were anxiously awaiting a movie where the Penguin bares (almost) all, try this one for size. The star of "Winterset" and "Of Mice and Men" tops his already memorable performance in "Hurry Sundown" with this cameo where Cannon sees the toupee wearing Meredith wearing nothing but a flower over his nipple and what looks like a department store shopping bag covering his privates.

Is there a point to all of this? Not really unless it is uncomfortable laughs Otto Preminger, the director of "Laura", "Anatomy of a Murder" and that recent masterpiece "Skidoo" was going for. Much better than that piece of celluloid ragweed, "Such Good Friends" is a comedy of groans with an interesting cast, some wonderful shots of early 1970's Manhattan, and a Blake Edwards sensibility that would make the Pink Panther give himself up to Clouseau. Dyan Cannon plays a totally likable character that seems to judge nobody, least of all her nagging monster of a mother (Nina Foch in a toure de force performance). In fact, she enjoys seeing Meredith in the buff, and agrees to share a dance with him. She is a perfect wife and mother but has no shame of wearing a see-through knit vest with no bra. The bearded Howard, fresh from his triumph as Thomas Jefferson in Broadway's "1776", is also amusing. Of supporting actors, Doris Roberts is instantly recognizable as a hospital visitor who appears in several hospital scenes over several days (wearing the same outfit!). Some veteran stars of "B" movies of the 40's and '50's appear in cameos.

Not a great comedy, it is amusing simply by the sheer gall of the writers and director. In fact, fans of the "Airplane!" and "Naked Gun" movies will have to watch it several times to (like those Zucker brother comedy classics) catch every single gag. Others might find making fun of hospitalization, malpractice and possible death offensive.
3 out of 3 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
Preminger's great satire
jarrodmcdonald-126 September 2014
Otto Preminger's later films are an acquired taste. But this one, while completely outrageous, seems to be one of his better efforts.

Some of the more memorable scenes: Burgess Meredith walking around nude at a cocktail party (!); Ken Howard impotent while making love to Dyan Cannon; Cannon attempting to seduce obese James Coco who is wearing a girdle (!); and Cannon finding her husband's black book with notes about sex with other women.

Despite its unusualness, SUCH GOOD FRIENDS is an enjoyable picture to watch because it's something you don't have to take seriously. It is obviously a black comedy and the first few minutes establish the mood perfectly. It does become a bit of a maudlin soap opera where Cannon's character is figuring out her husband's infidelities and trying to decide if she still loves the guy or not. But the melodramatic aspects are definitely overshadowed by the satirical look at urban mores that Preminger presents.
5 out of 6 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
5/10
Such An Out-Dated Movie
BachlorinParadise20 August 2006
I'm a big fan of the beautiful, sexy, and talented Dyan Cannon. I saw this film when it first came out in 1971 and thought it was funny, sexy, well-acted, and entertaining. Well, I just saw this movie today, after some 35 years and it hasn't aged well. The movie about a medical mishap and extra-marital affairs is now old news. The plot no longer has the kick it had back in 1971. There are some bright spots that are still shinny; an all-star cast of veteran actors, the sexy Miss Cannon and the equally attractive Jennifer O'Neal, and one very humor "sex" scene. Aside from that, the movie is slow moving and somewhat dull. The plot is depressing, and the ending makes little or no sense. So, unless you're a big fan of Dyan Cannon or Jennifer O'Neal, I'd forget about Such Good Friends.
11 out of 25 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
A not worth watching film by acclaimed director Otto Preminger.
SkaVenger18 November 1999
It has only a couple of scenes that you'll remember and the plot is too slow. Otto Preminger may have done a good work with the actors in this film but this is not enough.

Even though it has no ambition either so ...
4 out of 33 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink
8/10
I am a Dyan Cannon fan
nameismike6913 February 2019
I watched this movie because I am a Dyan Cannon fan. I'm sure the film is ok so I will sit through it so I can watch Dyan Cannon and the other hottie. I love Dyan Cannon. I found this by accident. I never even heard about till 50 years later. I want Dyan Cannon. Any way she will read this and PM me. Thanks.
0 out of 2 found this helpful. Was this review helpful? Sign in to vote.
Permalink

See also

Awards | FAQ | User Ratings | External Reviews | Metacritic Reviews


Recently Viewed