A New Kind Of Love

A NEW KIND OF LOVE —“kind” and “love” aren’t the concepts that blossom forth from this wanker of a comedy from 1963, force-feeding Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward, Paris and designer duds into a 110-minute slog written (badly), produced (nicely) & directed (flatly) by Melville Shavelson. To be—okay—kind, Daniel L. Fapp’s camerawork often sparkles (nice green eyes, Jo), the opening credits are amusing, Woodward tries hard to inject something into the trite material (oh, great pins, too, by the way–sexism is allowed here because the movie is suffused with the coy wink-wink variety), and the ever-stitching Edith Head’s costume design managed an Oscar nomination. Otherwise, major yawn…*

A heavy and uncool hand this time

Thrown together on different assignments in Paris are ‘Steve Shannon’ (Newman), a brash sports reporter who’s a babe-magnet bachelor (swinging 60’s style) and ‘Samantha “Sam” Blake’ (Woodward), a man-bereft fashion buyer. He’s over to score more than stories, she’s there to scoop & swipe apparel ideas for her New York department store. Will egotistical Steve and tomboyish Sam somehow find a way to placate their inner puppy in ever-springy Paree?  Duh.

Give her a butch haircut. Insert veiled lesbian jokes. Make sure they’re not funny ones.

One more peek at Parisian sights and another display of foofy designer couture isn’t enough: a decent script (with more than a half-dozen decent lines) and fresh characters would be helpful, as well as a leading man adept at comedy. Good as he might be elsewhere, Our Man Paul’s as light as an anvil here, plus Steve’s an all-round jerk to begin with: Cary Grant or Rock Hudson couldn’t make him likable. Woodward (her role is woefully written) easily bests her husband this time out. Old pros Thelma Ritter and George Tobias dutifully perform the task at hand like the vets they were. Eva Gabor is there to smile a lot and kid her image, a fashion show flaunts getups from Christian Dior, Pierre Cardin and Lanvin-Castillo, and tossed in for an extended cameo, Maurice Chevalier warbles some of his signature tunes to re-remind the audience they’re in France. Jean-Luc Godard not available?

Flailing to evoke some of the sexy stuff coming from Europe since BB disrobed and La Vida was Dolce’d, the script is stillborn with homegrown 50’s prurience, and manages to insult everyone except the featured designers–and how many of us really give three sheets to the wind about them and their endlessly fawned-over drape jobs for a planetary clientele you could fit in a polo field?

The old pretend-you’re a hooker plan: a sure way to snare a husband.

A gross of $6,100,000 placed 48th for the year. With Marvin Kaplan (as a yutz, go figure, already, oy!), Robert Clary (as a pimp, and about as amusing), Robert F. Simon (how many flustered guys did he play?), Valerie Varda (the Hungarian beach bunny from Mr. Hobbs Takes A Vacation), Laurie Mitchell (aka Queen Of Outer Space: now there’s a funny movie!) and Celeste Yarnell (Trekkies, phasers on lore). Besides the costuming, Leith Stevens scoring received an Oscar nomination in the later-discontinued sub-category Scoring of Music–Adaptation or Treatment.

* Edith Head’s nomination for costume design was one of her career’s record of 35 (more than any other person–sorry, Meryl) with 8 wins and she outdid herself that year by getting two more, for Love With The Proper Stranger and Wives And Lovers. Speaking of the L-word, it was getting driven into the cinematic ground in ’63, with Island Of Love, Love Is A Ball, For Love Or Money and My Six Loves. As for the Newman’s, especially Paul, they should have called this one A New Kind Of Low.

 

One thought on “A New Kind Of Love

  1. Yeah, poor Paul didn’t really have his comedy chops together yet, did he? It wasn’t (really) just the storyline.

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