Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

Transported "Lovers" loses theatrical glow

Cleveland Press August 11, 1972

"The Last of the Red Hot Lovers" is playing at local theaters. Comedy; adults, older teens. In the cast are Alan Arkin, Sally Kellerman, Paula Prentiss. Running time: 98 minutes.

Neil Simon's play about a middle-aged man who figures that after 23 years of marriage life may be passing him by if he doesn't have an affair was a very funny thing on stage, but with serious overtones.

On film Simon's lines have just as much wit, just as much fun and just as much bite. But they don't zing around the place so freely. The hero's anguish seems to overshadow his fumbling attempts at being a Casanova.

ONE PROBLEM is having Alan Arkin do the role. Arkin is talented and he can be funny, but somehow the seriousness of his situation, rather than the awkwardness, is always uppermost.

James Coco in New York an Jack Weston in the touring company that played the Hanna both had the ability to reflect the absurdity of it all.

Arkin seems more calculating. Could it be because the other two were fat and Arkin isn't? Is it his lean and hungry look that is doing him in?

Arkin plays Barney Cashman who runs a seafood restaurant. He is in his forties, he has never been unfaithful to his wife and about the best he can say about his life is that it's been nice. Now he wants more than nice.

To his mother's apartment (she's off doing volunteer work) he invites, on three different occasions, three different women.

THE THREE WOMEN are as desperate as he. Barney stands the best chance with the first, but takes too long with preliminaries, by trying to explain what it is all about.

The woman is married and a nymphomaniac. She wants action, not talk and at this point in his roaming, Barney is all talk, no action.

Number two is an unsuccessful entertainer whose life has been a series of misadventures with strange and lecherous people, according to her. She's a freaky kind with an overactive imagination and an ability to get into trouble very easily.

THE THIRD IS his wife's best friend who doesn't find Barney physically attractive. She is going to an analyst with the intention of driving off a bridge after she is "cured." For Barney it is more talk, more frustration.

Sally Kellerman as the first woman makes out the best, managing to be both alluring and hostile. She's great with a put-down and her retorts have bite.

Paula Prentiss as the neurotic just overdoses everything. Renee Taylor, who's material is the least funny, does manage to convey the desperation of a woman obsessed with the fact that there is no decency left in the world.

Although a few exterior scenes have been added, the movie looks very much like a filmed play.