Best picture 1973: A Touch of Class

Nowadays you would rarely see comedic films being nominated for best picture, not especially with everybody trying to sell their dramatic chops in order to win the gold man. I always thought that it’s a pity, because comedy is extremely hard to do well, perhaps even more than drama since there’s a need to bring out both the realism and humour of the story. The same goes for acting comedic nominations, and I might even go ahead and say that I am one of those people who will largely prefer a top-notch comedic performance over a heavyweight drama one (Diane Keaton 1977, Irene Dunne 1937 etc.)

Still, I’ll go ahead and also say that A Touch of Class is pure entertainment and nothing all. I may sound like I am belittling a best picture nominee, but I’ll also be honest and say that I enjoyed every second of it. I enjoyed it as a funny, witty romantic comedy that is very stress-relieving and easy to watch, but not as a best picture contender. I feel like the film is trying to pay tribute to the screwball comedies of the 30s and 40s, but somehow it doesn’t quite reach the heights of The Awful Truth or His Girl Friday. I guess the problem is that the plot kinda meanders around without really hitting a climax, which is why the film lacks the excitement factor that it could have had: the two meet, they have an affair in Málaga, they quarrel and reconcile, they fall in love and return to London only to realise that the affair wasn’t working. That’s pretty much it. The lines, however, are pretty brilliantly written, and I love the non-stop injections of innuendos, sarcasm and wit in the dialogue.

The film also largely benefits from the presence of Glenda Jackson, who won her second Oscar for her performance here as Vicky Allessio. She injects her sharp, intelligent and strong personality into the role, delivering every single line to perfection. I mean, she even makes a simple action like holding a toilet seat over her head look funny, and I can’t even figure out which of her sarcastic one-liners is my favourite. While George Segal comes off as trying a bit hard (he won the Golden Globe though), she sails through the movie’s (a bit stylized) dialogue with so much ease and fun while bringing out the vulnerable sides of the character as well. Not necessarily my favourite best actress winner, but still a highly deserved Oscar win and one of my favourite comedic performances.

The screenplay is kinda inconsistent, especially how Vicky seemed to have become a spinster in the second half of the movie instead of a divorced mother (where ARE her children?), and not to mention it’s hard to believe that an intelligent woman like her would fall for such an attention-needy, whiny, neurotic and insecure prick. But it doesn’t matter, I feel like the movie isn’t meant to be taken to seriously, it’s purely for enjoyment and entertainment, and it delivers. 3.5/5 for the movie, 4.5/5 for Glenda Jackson’s performance.

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