Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

John doesn't practice husbandry

Cleveland Press February 12, 1971

"Husbands" is playing at the Beach Cliff and Lowe's East. Drama; adults older teens. In the cast are John Cassavetes, Peter Falk, Ben Gazzara. Running time 139 minutes

Actor John Cassavetes is a sometimes writer and director and his latest effort as a triple-threat man is "Husbands," a dull piece of self-indulgence.

Along with fellow actors Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara he attempts to tell a tale of the friendship of three men who have been shocked into self-examination by the death of a fourth.

Instead of going to their respective homes they go off on a binge. Now it may be that someone with a fertile imagination could have derived something of interest from what follows.

It also may be that there is germ of something or other in what Cassavetes and company have provided, but it is hopelessly buried.

IT IS NOT only Cassavetes who is self indulgent but Falk and Gazzara as well. All three are good actors. All three are going all the way with method techniques improvising and attempting to become the people they play.

The result is a numbing blur.

Scenes that have no point go on and on without end and without meaning. So this is what much of our daily lives is like but so what? Art -- be it film stage or novel -- generally tries to distill some meaning out of the routine substance of living.

THE THREE MEN are successful suburbanites. They would like to have been athletes, and now as part of their binge they play basketball in a huge gym. And the camera records it all faithfully.

They go to a bar where they sit around with others drinking vast quantities of beer and singing songs - not well, not interestingly. It's realistic but gee whiz, it's awfully boring, especially for another 15 or 20 minutes.

Afterwards they spend another 10 minutes vomiting and philosophizing in the john.

Gazzara has a fight with his wife, grabs his passport as he leaves the house and decides he is going to London. The other two, loyal buddies that they are, go with him.

THEY MAKE THE rounds of the casinos, pick up some women and continue to despair about what life is all about And then they go home.

The dialog consists of fragments, of exclamation,s, of three actors trying to upstage each other. What has been done is undisciplined and what has been given us is unselective. The camera runs and simply photographs everything that passes before it. The microphone listens. It is like a big budget home movie.

"Husbands" tries to demonstrate that even men with jobs and families can be good friends as kids are friends- without inhibitions, with total freedom.

TO DEMONSTRATE this they run and Ieap along the sidewalk slapping each other on the back and laughing good naturedly.

These aren't grown men acting young. These are actors trying to imitate grown men acting young. "Husbands" in the end is not the realism of three men who are dentists, or advertising executives or whatever behaving as they would away from their jobs.

It's three actors behaving as they might away from their particular jobs- acting.