NO WAY TO TREAT A LADY provided a 1968 field day for Rod Steiger, deliriously hamming it up as seven different characters who are all one: a psychotic strangler who uses disguises to perpetrate his crimes.
As a flamboyantly wacko Broadway producer who works out his mother-fixation angst by murdering women who remind him of her, Steiger makes the most of an actor’s dream part, both creepy and funny at the same time. Got up as a policeman, plumber, priest and hairdresser, Rod’s fiend would have enough on his plate without being pursued by determined detective George Segal, who has Momma troubles of his own.
“You still don’t have a diploma! Not to mention any grandchildren, which your brother Franklin has three already. Three grandchildren. What have I got from you but heartbreak?”
At least Segal’s harping mama is played by Eileen Heckart instead of Shelley Winters, so the clichéd shtick doesn’t provoke you toward Steiger’s reactions. Lee Remick is Segal’s girlfriend and, as such, a potential victim. The couple work well together.
Aside from Rod’s tour de force, and the pleasant pairing of George & Lee, the black comedy is well directed by Jack Smight, has a good score from Stanley Myers and the writing is consistently fun, credit going to John Gay, who based it on a novel by William Goldman.
108 minutes, with Murray Hamilton, Michael Dunn, David Doyle, Martine Bartlett, Barbara Baxley, Ruth White, Doris Roberts and Val Avery. It made $8,900,000.