1970s Oldies

What’s Up, Doc? (1972)

I’ve found myself going through screwball comedies in the midst of the Coronavirus and What’s Up, Doc? is one of the best I’ve watched recently. I’ve found the best way to measure them is how consistently funny they can be through hilarious and sometimes improbable situations. All of the screwball comedies I’ve watched have one or a few of these moments. Some of the funny situations land, others don’t, and the inconsistency of them can make the film feel uneven.

The car chase and hotel room fire scenes are the highlights for me, but What’s Up, Doc? doesn’t rely on these bigger moments. Throughout its duration, the film is funny through character reactions, physical comedy, its dialogue, and overall plot. The film is certainly a homage to the many screwball comedies that have come before it, but What’s Up, Doc? feels very much like its own, not an imitator of the classics. 

Streisand found the perfect balance of charm and annoyance. Ryan O’Neal’s character could be interpreted as unrealistically aloof, but O’Neal’s performance breathes so much life into a no-nonsense character that could have become an eye-rolling, cardboard cut-out. 

Peter Bogdanovich pulled off something special here. I’ve rarely found a screwball comedy to feel somewhat rooted in reality, laugh-out-loud funny, consistently engaging, and have it stick the landing. What’s Up, Doc? is definitely a must-see.

1970s Oldies

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands (1976)

I have a strong dislike for movies where a woman is dating or married to a man who is awful to her and she stands by him. Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands would actually be a perfect example of this kind of movie. From ones I’ve seen, I would put this film at the bottom of my list. I found Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands to not have any redeeming qualities. 

The characters are so one-dimensional that the actors aren’t given the room to have good performances. The cinematography is standard, so there isn’t anything impressive about it. When Dona and Her Two Husbands tries to implement humor it doesn’t work. I didn’t find the situation of Dona Flor’s husband groping two women with her right next to them funny or the rest of his behavior for that matter. It makes perfect sense that when he comes back as a ghost he’s completely nude.

Dona Flor’s first husband was a womanizing jerk. I found it difficult to watch him gamble and fool around with other women for the first hour of the movie. This behavior made the film become repetitive. He was so devoid of any depth that we knew what he was going to do for the first thirty minutes and nothing changed. 

I think one of the film’s biggest problems is its structure. It begins with the death of Dona Flor’s bumbling idiot husband, but then proceeds to give us a summary of his marriage to her, which was simply uninteresting. Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands might have worked better if the film had flashbacks during the time after his death and while she was married to her second husband.

The icing on the cake is the ending. Dona Flor ends up with both of her husbands. The irony is she becomes exactly what she despised about her first husband. She gets the husband who will give her all of the crazy sex she desires and another husband who is loyal and nice to her. I’m honestly not even sure what to make of this ending. Is it to show no one is perfect? Everyone is a hypocrite? Or is it some sort of revenge for how she was treated before? I’m honestly not sure.

I didn’t like anything about Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands, but I have to give it a 2/10 because it was still competently made.