Just Tell Me What You Want

Just Tell Me What You Want

Director: Sidney Lumet, Alan King, Ali MacGraw, Myrna Loy

Cast: Sidney Lumet, Alan King, Ali MacGraw, Myrna Loy

     
 
In this Sidney Lumet romantic comedy, Max Herschel (Alan King) is a powerful businessman who keeps a bevy of beauties for pleasure to escape his alcoholic wife, Connie (Dina Merrill). His main minx is Bones Burton (Ali MacGraw), a successful television producer who is tiring of Max's lack of commitment. When she takes up with Steven (Peter Weller), Max does everything

Overview

In this Sidney Lumet romantic comedy, Max Herschel (Alan King) is a powerful businessman who keeps a bevy of beauties for pleasure to escape his alcoholic wife, Connie (Dina Merrill). His main minx is Bones Burton (Ali MacGraw), a successful television producer who is tiring of Max's lack of commitment. When she takes up with Steven (Peter Weller), Max does everything in his power to win her back. Silent screen star Myrna Loy plays Max's faithful secretary, in her last big-screen role, and steals the show.

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Nathan Southern
Just prior to the dawn of the Reagan era, Jay Presson Allen and Sidney Lumet teamed up for this fine, overlooked adaptation of Allen's 1975 novel of high comedy, that brutally satirizes the New York elite from within. Alan King stars as Max Herschel, an industrial overlord in the Trump and Buffett mold. At the outset, Max's manipulations have sent his fragile wife (Dina Merrill) to a mental institution, threaten to drive his mistress/protégé, "Bones" Burton (Ali MacGraw), into the arms of a failing playwright, and leave Max vulnerable to canny movie studio head Seymour Berger (Keenan Wynn). Lumet and Allen ultimately set the stage for a series of near-conniptions and nervous breakdowns when everything that Max has learned to rely on as stable and predictable comes raining down onto the poor man's head. By the second half, the film explodes into a battle of egos between lovers Herschel and Burton, as Lumet and Allen aim their sights, more broadly, at kissing off the Manhattan elite, with its grotesque subculture of Bergdorf-Goodman garments, Bulgari jewels, and private planes. This material is tricky enough that the film could have gone dreadfully wrong, but much of it works, thanks largely to its pitch-perfect tone that enables us to never lose sight of Max's vulnerabilities. The onscreen events might come across as hostile or even tragic were it not for the razor-sharp precision -- and glee -- with which the filmmakers unveil the desperate, whiny child at Max's core, the need for say in every arena that he can get his mitts on. He's obnoxious and grating, but also - as scripted by Allen and played by King - too hilarious and pathetic to ever warrant any serious dislike or disgust. Even before the roof over his head begins to collapse, Herschel perpetually breaches the edge of absurdity. Other elements of the film are also uniformly strong, including its satirical dialogue and a superb ensemble cast including MacGraw, Myrna Loy, Tony Roberts and Peter Weller. Unfortunately, audiences didn't agree with this assessment, and the film bombed, practically opening and closing overnight. Lumet and Allen's careers continued unabated, however, and they reteamed immediately afterward for the better-received Prince of the City (1981).

Product Details

Release Date:
12/07/2010
UPC:
0883316219874
Original Release:
1980
Rating:
R
Source:
Warner Archives
Presentation:
[Wide Screen]
Time:
1:54:00
Sales rank:
40,426

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Alan King Max Herschel
Ali MacGraw Bones Burton
Myrna Loy Stella Liberti
Dina Merrill Connie Herschel
Keenan Wynn Seymour Berger
Tony Roberts Mike Berger
Peter Weller Steven Routledge
Sara Truslow Cathy
Judy Kaye Baby
Joseph Maher Dr. Coleson
Lee Doyle Party Major Domo
Jeffrey Anderson-Gunter Teddy
Paddy Croft Berger's Secretary
John Walter Davis Stan
Leslie Easterbrook Hospital Nurse
Paul Farentino Max's Chauffeur
John Gabriel Commentator
Stanley Greene Bones' Lester
Michael Gross Lothar
Joseph Leon Julie Raskin
Annabel Lukins New Baby
Ron Millkie Waiter
Tony Munafo Lukins Guard
Andrew Murphy Limo Driver
Lacey Neuhaus Party Blonde
David Rasche Stopwatch Producer
Raymond Thorne Dr. Jowdy

Technical Credits
Sidney Lumet Director,Producer
Jay Presson Allen Producer,Screenwriter
John J. Fitzstephens Editor
Gloria Gresham Costumes/Costume Designer
Burtt Harris Executive Producer
Alan Hopkins Asst. Director
John J. Moore Art Director
Oswald Morris Cinematographer
James J. Sabat Sound/Sound Designer
Charles Strouse Score Composer
Tony Walton Costumes/Costume Designer,Production Designer

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