I have to admit that I am not very familiar with Dustin Hoffman’s early career. A DVD release like this really allows me (and those of you out there like me) to fill a void in my movie repertoire. Originally released in 1971 this movie with a lengthy title is a strong representative of its era. Modern film watchers do have to adjust to the different tempo, etc. Don’t make the mistake of writing it off because it is not of the same ilk of films today.
Rich and successful love song writer Georgie Soloway (Dustin Hoffman – Tootsie, Kramer vs. Kramer) is the last man you would think on the surface would be victim of a mid-life crisis, but as it turns out he is in the throes of a big one. Neurotic as he is Georgie, a man at the apex of his career, cannot neither find someone to or render himself capable of love. This makes him more and more depressed as time goes on. On top of all this sadness there also runs a wide streak of paranoia which manifests itself in the belief that a mysterious unknown person has been speaking ill of him around town and as a result making it impossible for Georgie to find love. Even his therapist Dr. Solomon F. Moses (Jack Warden – All the President’s Men, While You Were Sleeping) cannot help Georgie see the light.
It seems like things might be finally be changing for the melancholic songwriter when he meets the equally quirky Allison (Barbara Harris – Freaky Friday, Grosse Pointe Blank). Allison is hoping for a career as an actress. Georgie realizes this connection they have might be his last chance at love.
While this is not the best film you will ever see, it is still a worthy watch for film buffs. The sharp script by Herb Gardner is amplified by the strong performances by Hoffman and Harris. Barbara Harris even earned a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination for her effort. At times the strong performances are lost within the muddled film which I blame on the lack of a strong guiding force by director Ulu Grosbard (The Deep End of the Ocean, Georgia). Yes, it is a film with existential themes (loneliness, the emptiness of financial success, how short life is, insomnia, etc.) to it though still it could have more concrete. With a clearer director the script and performances would have been allowed to stand out even more.