Tony Mastroianni Review Collection

"The Late Liz" is Ugh-Inspiring

Cleveland Press October 15, 1971

One big trouble with inspirational movies is that dramatically they are often uninspired.

"The Late Liz" hits you over the head with its message and while you cannot fault it for a lack of sincerity -- it is about as sincere as you can get -- a little professionalism would have gone a long way to help it.

Actress Anne Baxter has a corner on most of the professionalism apparent in the picture. Maybe she is too professional; more than director Dick Ross can handle.

She has a tendency to come on pretty strong. The others just come on as though someone had thrown a switch, and again Ross must be faulted for the artificiality that pervades most of this.

The movie is based on Gert Behanna's autobiography; Anne Baxter plays the role of the lady who hits the skids via alcohol, sleeping pills and three failed marriages.

It's a gold-plated roller coaster she rides however and she is never at a loss for jewelry and furs and the means to buy an endless supply of martinis at posh saloons.

All this may be true but a gold plated hell may not be very hell-like to audiences with even ordinary troubles in ordinary circumstances.

It's never quite clear whether her marital troubles result from the constant boozing or a bad choice of men. Certainly no one comes over sympathetically enough to make you care.

The cliches run thick and heavy. By the time she finds salvation through the discovery of God it is a hurry-up affair with the movie coming to a close without our ever finding out what good works she tackles as she trods the good path.

Finding God under Ross' direction is generally indicated by looking upwards, smiling beatifically and hearing violins on the sound track.

But as Jack Albertson's preacher points out, God has many ways to deliver his message and if "The Late Liz" is one of them, one cannot get too upset.

I just wish that movies that are on the side of the good guys were made better.