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Review - The Loved One (1965) (DVD-2006)
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The Loved One (DVD-2006)

Warner Home Video

Reviewed by Daniel Severin


Believe it or not, “The motion picture with something to offend everyone” was made over 40 years ago.  An Oscar-winning British director poked fun at American culture long before movie-making siblings like the Weitzes, Farrelys, and Wayanses assaulted the screen with American Pie, There’s Something About Mary and Scary Movie, respectively.

 

Hot on the heels of his hit Tom Jones, Tony Richardson directed an amazing ensemble of actors in an adaptation of Evelyn Waugh’s satire The Loved One. The story skewers the funeral industry, pokes fun at the British acting community in Hollywood, and ridicules the American obsessions with celebrity, advice and television.  Rod Steiger’s comic turn alone is worth the price of the DVD, but also in the cast are Milton Berle, James Coburn, John Gielgud, Robert Morley, Roddy McDowell and Liberace as a creepy coffin salesman.

 

In The Loved One, Robert Morse plays an aspiring poet who sells funeral packages by day and at night reads romantic verses to his beloved, pretending to have written the lines himself.  Jonathan Winters is a ruthless cemetery owner who wants to make more money off a limited space.  Among the caricatures of American culture are an overweight woman who plans her days around food commercials on TV; an advice columnist who tells a woman to kill herself; and a girl who swings from the deck of her condemned cliffside home.  Rod Steiger nearly steals the film as Mr. Joyboy, an embalmer obsessed with taking care of his obese mother and courting the attractive Anjanette Comer.

 

With so much madness and so many movie stars in it, why isn’t The Loved One more well known?  Well, we could blame the British invasion, but that’s too easy.  The DVD featurette says the satire was too far ahead of its time in 1965.  In 2006 The Loved One seems harshly hysterical and comparable to Network.  The DVD transfer of The Loved One is superb, showcasing the glorious black and white cinematography.  A delightfully dark comedy, The Loved One deserves a permanent resting place in your DVD collection.

 

 

2006 Daniel Severin/Celluloid Dreams

 

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