Trompé Setsuled (setsuled) wrote,
Trompé Setsuled

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Questionable Health Codes

So you're chowing down on your minestrone or your chowder and you notice something funny, maybe a leg, a fingernail, or a boob. Looks like you may have the same problem Peter Sellers had with Goldie Hawn in 1970's There's a Girl in My Soup. There's actually no soup in the movie but there are legs, fingernails, and boobs. It's a story about the meeting of two kinds of superficial relationships, two breeds of casual sex--the older, patriarchal guard represented by Sellers' character and the new "free love" variety represented by Hawn's. There's some real but ultimately pointless thought in the movie and absorbing dialogue undermined slightly by Sellers.

The first Pink Panther film is mainly effective because of Sellers' improvised physical comedy. This is because the rest of the movie is not very good--David Niven and Claudia Cardinale could both give fine performances but there's simply nothing to their characters as they're written. So Sellers' improvisations come as a welcome and exciting respite. In There's a Girl in My Soup, they serve as a distraction, as when a protracted scene of him trying to figure out how to remove Hawn's top while she's caught up musing aloud about love and life sit oddly beside a genuinely fascinating dialogue that preceded it.

Sellers plays Robert Danvers, a wealthy television personality in Britain who Hawn's character, Marion, doesn't recognise because she's American. She goes home with him anyway--We've already seen Robert seduce a young wife on her wedding day, a young woman attending the wedding, and the beautiful assistant of his friend. It's hard to see why women go so wild for Sellers--Jon Pertwee appeared in the original run of the play upon which the film is based and I found myself wanting to see Pertwee in the role, a far more virile actor capable of exuding warmth while also having a fussy uptightness that would be perfect for Robert. At the same time, the coldness of Sellers' comedic interpretation may indeed be appropriate for the kind of disconnect he exhibits.

Their first dialogue in his flat is fascinating more in how it shows the way the writer was thinking about casual sex than in what it actually says about casual sex. Robert is put off by how casually Marion says he can have his way with her and she's confused when he doesn't want to have sex with her if she won't enjoy it--something else undermined by Sellers' bit with her top.

She has some business with her drink and some bread she asks for. She takes her scotch neat and wants plain bread. Superficially this might seem to be a kind of kooky independence yet, as Robert remonstrates her later for being so careless with whom she sleeps with, it turns out to be indicative of a completely complacent personality, which I suspect was part of the writer's critique of the Free Love movement.

Robert's problem is more generally revealed to be vanity--the movie seems to settle into a more conventional story about her falling in love with him and him being too insensitive to see he loves her too and ought to make a commitment of it. But then the story takes a left turn that seems to be a commentary on how modern love has changed but effectively is arbitrary and empty.
Tags: comedy, goldie hawn, movies, peter sellers, sex, there's a girl in my soup
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