Review: 10 (1979)

>> Wednesday, June 25, 2008

USA/C-122m./Dir: Blake Edwards/Wr: Blake Edwards/Cast: Dudley Moore (George Webber), Julie Andrews (Samantha Taylor), Bo Derek (Jenny Hanley), Robert Webber (Hugh), Dee Wallace (Mary Lewis), Brian Dennehy (Don)

Having written and directed three Pink Panther movies in a row, Blake Edwards longed to produce a film that was more sophisticated, hip, and adult. The resulting picture, 10, proved not only to be a box office smash; it also introduced the world to Bo Derek (a dubious distinction) and cemented the stardom of Dudley Moore (sans comedy partner Peter Cook).

Moore stars as George Webber, a songwriter who feels “betrayed” by age and dissatisfied with life, despite wealth, success, supportive friends, and a long-time relationship with a theater star (Julie Andrews). While stopped at a traffic light, George happens to catch a fleeting glimpse of a beautiful bride (Bo Derek) in another car, and his general malaise blossoms into a full-on midlife crisis. He becomes obsessed with the girl, but being that 10 is a comedy, George’s attempts at stalking generally degenerate into drunken slapstick. Eventually, bolstered by pain pills and liquid courage, George decides to travel to Mexico to interrupt the girl’s honeymoon.

Looking at 10 today, it seems anything but hip and sophisticated. This isn’t due to the film’s 70’s setting. I can’t imagine 10 having ever appeared hip. Although Edwards would create other fine films (most notably Victor/Victoria), he was far past his freshness date. Edwards hadn’t been on the cutting edge since the early 60’s; and his middle-aged lead character is far from “with it.” At one point he even forces Moore to complain about “today’s” music. Overall, the film is as melancholy as it is funny, and its observations about life are about as deep as a wading pool. If I was to limit my review to a single word, it would be “overrated.”

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the film. Few actors are as likeable as Dudley Moore, and the film gives him numerous opportunities to show off his musical and comedy chops. It helps that his character is intoxicated much of the time, because Moore’s slurred slapstick is inspired (his double-glass approach to drinking while on pain pills is particularly memorable). The rest of the cast is capable, and a young Brian Dennehy is a standout as an extremely supportive bartender.

Edwards’ film, while no classic, is diverting and well-made. Today it works best as a time capsule of the late 70’s--a far-off world of 8-tracks, short shorts, wet bars, psychoanalysis, and orgies. I’ll drink to that.

Drinks Consumed--Wine, whiskey, brandy, vodka (Bloody Mary), and unnamed cocktails

Intoxicating Effects--Slurred speech, staggering, stumbling, sauced sentimentality, passing out, drunk driving, soused sex, and public nudity

Potent Quotables--COP: You better take it easy. Pain pills and alcohol don’t mix.
GEORGE: You could have fooled me.

Video Availability--10 DVD (Warner Brothers)

Similarly Sauced Cinema--Dudley Moore went on to soused cinema immortality with Arthur (1981).


Chris B. June 26, 2008 at 1:39 PM  

I don't know - the epitome of "hip" at the time was the aging rat pack.

The Bo Derek beach/boobies scene was the gold standard for a long time.

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

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