​​THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN

THE WEBER MOVIE COUNTDOWN

THE GOAL FOR 2018: 200 MOVIES WATCHED BY MIDNIGHT NEW YEAR'S EVE!  (AFTER TOPPING OUT AT 194 in 2017)

CAN HE DO IT?

PORTNOY'S COMPLAINT (1972)










109 is the 1972 film adaptation of the Phillip Roth novel Portnoy's Complaint. If you've read the book you know it's basically a monologue by the title character to his therapist about (mainly) masturbation and Jewish guilt. And you probably would say how the heck could they make a movie out of THAT book? Well, Ernest Lehman, the fine screenwriter of North by Northwest, West Side Story and The Sound of Music (!), took a shot, the only film he ever directed. Richard Benjam...in is Alexander Portnoy, good casting as he played the Jewish leading man in comedy after comedy of the era. But the early scenes with Portnoy and his family (Jack Somach and Lee Grant, terribly miscast as a stereotypical Jewish mother) come off as awkward. The movie steers around the content of the book (probably as to not get an X rating) and only works when Benjamin basically does a monologue directly from the book. Which means we're not watching a movie anymore but rather watching Richard Benjamin reading passages from Portnoy's Complaint the book. The film only takes off when he meets Mary Jane aka The Monkey (Karen Black in an excellent performance). She's not the sharpest tool in the shed, but falls in love with him totally and will do anything for him. But he thinks he's superior to her and she'll only embarrass him. Bad move. The film does jolt to life when Black is onscreen. A very young Jill Clayburgh turns up towards the end of the film as an Israeli girl in a quite uncomfortable attempted rape scene (the movie changes tones abruptly and not for the better). If you've read the book, this is an interesting failure and might be worth a look. All others - nah. Imagine how literal a film version of Portnoy's Complaint would be if made today. Maybe TOO literal. Only available via Warner Archive.

TLA one-word review: limp