Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Padding in "Public Eye" makes film slow moving

Cleveland Press August 5, 1972

"The Public Eye" is playing at local theaters. Comedy-drama; adults, teens. In the cast are Topol, Mia Farrow, Michael Jayston. Running time: 95 minutes

A few years ago playwright Peter Shaffer wrote a pair of one-act, plays entitled "The Private Ear" and "The Public Eye." Short and witty, they made for a pleasant evening in the theater.

"The Private Ear" made it to the screen as "The Pad, and How to Use It," produced by former Clevelander Ross Hunter.

"The Public Eye" is now on screen bu t meanwhile Hunter changed companies which was probably just as well for him.

The short play suffers from being opened up for the screen. Shaffer's bright lines could be enjoyed for themselves on stage in a work that went quickly by. The extra length, the reality over London and flashbacks of film cause the dialog to suffer from over examination.

FEW CONCERNED with the film -- producer Hal Wallis in the mounting of it, Carol Reed in his pedestrain direction and two of the three performers understood the basic fantasy of the work.

Only Topol, though playing rather broadly, seemed to be playing it for whimsy and light-hearted fantasy.

The setting is London and the story is about a rather straight-laced accountant (Michael Jayston) who meets and falls in love with an American kook (Mia Farrow).

They marry and the wife doesn't fit in with her husband's friends and family She disappears for long walks, is late for appoint.ments.

HE SUSPECTS she is having an affair and hires a detective to follow her. This is Topol and the character takes some time to tell his tale.

He has followed her all over London and flashbacks tell that story. Later she tells of her wanderings and another series of flashbacks enlarge on that story and give it a new twist.

The detective and the wife are kindred souls and he has some advice for the husbancd if he wants to save the marriage.

SOMEWHERE PAST the halfway point the movie starts to work. Until then it has been heavy-handed. Everyone in this picture not only eats and drinks interminably, they talk about eating and drinking when not doing it. Between that and the wonderful scenery there is considerable padding in this film.

Shaffer has adapted his own play for the screen. His dialog doesn't work as well but there are long, long silent stretches involving Topol and Miss Farrow that do work.

In the course of the story someone says something about how important stretches of silence are in a marriage. That goes for movies too.