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The Loved One

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Overview

The satire in Evelyn Waugh's darkly comic novel The Loved One was originally double-edged. The book was not only an attack on the Southern California funeral industry but also a lampoon of Hollywood's "British colony," those clannish, cricket-playing English actors of years gone by who bemoaned the artificiality of Tinseltown while eagerly accepting the demeaning and insignificant movie roles they were offered. The film version of The Loved One, anxious to live up to its ad-campaign promise of containing ...
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Overview

The satire in Evelyn Waugh's darkly comic novel The Loved One was originally double-edged. The book was not only an attack on the Southern California funeral industry but also a lampoon of Hollywood's "British colony," those clannish, cricket-playing English actors of years gone by who bemoaned the artificiality of Tinseltown while eagerly accepting the demeaning and insignificant movie roles they were offered. The film version of The Loved One, anxious to live up to its ad-campaign promise of containing "something to offend everybody," downplays the British-colony business save for the presence of the magnificent Robert Morley and pumps up the "death" gags. Innocent British poet Dennis Barlow Robert Morse falls in love with funeral-home cosmetician Aimee Thanatogenos Anjanette Comer, who in turn is loved by prissy funeral director Mr. Joyboy Rod Steiger. The latter lives with his obese mother Ayllene Gibbons, whose eating sequence is far more hilarious and more tasteless than many of the film's calculatedly "black" jokes. A huge guest-star cast is headed by Jonathan Winters in a dual role as a funeral home manager and his covetous twin brother, who operates an elaborate pet cemetery. Musician Paul Williams is also on hand as a 13-year-old aeronautics genius who develops a method of sending corpses into "eternal orbit" a plot device that Waugh neglected to include in his novel. Film historian William K. Everson has commented that The Loved One is one of the best and most underrated comedies of the 1960s. For others, especially those who might feel guilty chuckling at the sight of Anjanette Comer committing suicide with an embalming needle, it's purely a matter of taste...or lack of same.
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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Craig Butler
Evelyn Waugh purists may bristle at the liberties taken in translated his macabre and morbidly amusing novel to the screen sending corpses into space, indeed!, but if The Loved One varies from the novel in both plot and tone, it still shares the same blackly comic view of humanity. While Waugh was subdued and subtle in his depiction of the mortuary industry, director Tony Richardson and writers Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood are much blunter and more obvious; indeed, at times there's a positively maniacal glee to the proceedings. But this ultimately works to the film's advantage, and if parts of the film are a bit much, on the whole the satire is presented to extremely good advantage. Even when the proceedings veer wildly off course, as they do on several occasions, the tangents are worth the ride. Viewers should be warned, of course, that The Loved One is not a very nice film. Those whose sensitivities are easily damaged should definitely look elsewhere indeed, the film was advertised as having something to offend everyone, and a somewhat strong stomach is needed for a few moments. Some may argue as well that a strong stomach is needed to withstand Robert Morse, who is miscast in the pivotal role. It doesn't help that Morse is hopelessly American in a role that is written for a Brit, but Morse's unsuccessful struggle to find the character is more the problem. Fortunately, the rest of the cast, from the mordant John Gielgud to the creepy Rod Steiger to the deliciously arrogant Robert Morley, more than make up for Morse's shortcomings. A bit helter-skelter in places and definitely not for all people, The Loved One will nonetheless delight those who appreciate their comedies black and enjoy the skewering of sacred cows.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/20/2013
  • UPC: 883316860113
  • Original Release: 1965
  • Rating:

  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Presentation: Pan & Scan
  • Language: English
  • Time: 2:01:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 23,406

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Robert Morse Dennis Barlow
Anjanette Comer Aimee Thanatogenos
Jonathan Winters Harry Glenworthy
Rod Steiger Mr. Joyboy
Dana Andrews Gen. Brinkson
James Coburn Immigration Officer
Milton Berle Mr. Ketweof
John Gielgud Sir Francis Hinsley
Tab Hunter Guide
Margaret Leighton Mrs. Kenton
Liberace Casket Salesman
Roddy McDowall D.J., Jr.
Robert Morley Sir Ambrose Abercrombie
Lionel Stander Guru Brahmin
Ayllene Gibbons Joyboy's mother
Bernie Kopell Assistant to Guru Brahmin
Asa Maynor Secretary to D.J., Jr.
Alan Napier English Club Official
Roxanne Arlen
John Bleifer Mr. Bogaloff
Bella Bruck Mrs. Bogaloff
Dort Clark
Pamela Curran
Robert Easton
Don Haggerty
Chick Hearn "Resurrection Now" TV Announcer
Beverly Hills Orgy Dancer
Claire Kelly Whispering Glades Hostesses
Warren Kemmerling
Ed Reimers Whispering Glades Minister
Reta Shaw
Barbara Nichols Sadie Blodgett
Martin Ransohoff Lorenzo Medici
Paul Williams Gunther Fry
Technical Credits
Tony Richardson Director
John Addison Score Composer
Hal Ashby Editor
John Calley Producer
Geza Gaspar Special Effects
Antony Gibbs Editor
Neil Hartley Producer
Christopher Isherwood Screenwriter
James Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Emile LaVigne Makeup
Sydney Z. Litwack Art Director
Stuart H. Pappe Editor
James W. Payne Set Decoration/Design
Brian Smedley-Aston Editor
Terry Southern Screenwriter
Rouben Ter-Arutunian Costumes/Costume Designer, Production Designer
Nat Tolmach Costumes/Costume Designer
Haskell Wexler Cinematographer, Producer
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    A black comedy with outstanding performances by the whole cast.

    One of my all time favorites. The outlandish premise combined with top performances by everyone involved make this movie hilarious and unforgettable. I can't recommend this one strongly enough.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews