Compromising Positions

A Long Island housewife (Susan Sarandon) calls on her dimly remembered journalistic experience to solve the murder of a playboy periodontist. Susan Isaacs's novel probably won a movie deal on the basis of its resemblance to Romancing the Stone and other pseudofeminist adventure yarns, but it's better material than that—it has a superior sense of character, locale, and the real-life consequences of heroic action, qualities that are largely preserved in Isaacs's screenplay. Unfortunately, Frank Perry's unbelievably ham-handed direction obscures most of what is craftsmanly and pleasant in Isaacs's work, pushing the material toward a smug, sloppy, heavily early-70s satire on the horrors of suburban life. A very mixed bag, but those who've missed a storytelling sense in American movies might want to have a look. With Raul Julia, Judith Ivey, Josh Mostel, and Anne De Salvo.

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