S.O.B. | Chicago Reader

S.O.B.

Blake Edwards's 1981 anti-Hollywood satire, apparently inspired by his own experiences with the big-budget disaster Darling Lili: when his expensive family musical looks like a flop, director Richard Mulligan tries to rescue it by prevailing upon his wholesome actress wife (Julie Andrews) to do a nude scene. The satire is actually fairly wayward and disappointingly blunt; what saves the film as art is its tremulous sense of shared humanity amid institutionalized madness and its constant insistence on authenticity of feeling (including genuine pain), which finally conquer even the most broadly cartoonish characters. It's built in an interestingly episodical, epic style, in which the ostensible hero is kept cauterized in the background while the screen swarms with the plottings of his enemies and allies. Far from perfect, but an exemplar of a vanishing breed—the serious American comedy. With William Holden, Robert Preston, Loretta Swit, Robert Vaughn, Larry Hagman, Marisa Berenson, Craig Stevens, Rosanna Arquette, and Shelley Winters.

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