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BOEING BOEING (director: John Rich; screenwriters: play by Marc Camoletti/Edward Anhalt; cinematographer: Lucien Ballard; editors: Warren Low/Archie Marshek; music: Neal Hefti; cast: Tony Curtis (Bernard Lawrence), Jerry Lewis (Robert Reed), Dany Saval (Jacqueline Grieux), Christiane Schmidtmer (Lise Bruner), Suzanna Leigh (Vicky Hawkins), Thelma Ritter (Bertha), Lomax Study (Pierre); Runtime: 102; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Hal B. Willis; Paramount Pictures; 1965)
“The clichéd sexist film isn’t bad, it’s awful.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Revolting one-joke farce filled with witless gags and a predictable outcome, that wears out its welcome almost from the onset. It has Jerry Lewis in his first serious role (shunning his child-man slapstick routine to offer a more restrained but not better adult performance) and his last film for Paramount (he started there in 1949 with My Friend Irma). Lewis teams with old friend Tony Curtis for the first and last time. John Rich, longtime TV director, fails to give the comedy any spark with his uninspiring sitcom style of directing. Furthermore the popular French stage comedy by Marc Camoletti is diluted down to a point of no return, and Edward Anhalt’s screenplay is just not funny. The clichéd sexist film isn’t bad, it’s awful.

Playboy Bernard Lawrence (Tony Curtis) is a smoothy American foreign correspondent stationed in Paris who manipulates the different schedules of three pretty flight attendants to string them along into thinking that he’s their fiancée and each is the only one he shares his apartment with. They are the sensible British beauty Vicky Hawkins with British United, the buxom German Lise Bruner with Lufthansa, and the petite French blonde Jacqueline Grieux with Air France. Bernard has a luxury bachelor’s pad fit for a king and a harried wisecracking disapproving American maid named Bertha (Thelma Ritter), whose chores are to cook for each of the women the meals she favors from her native country (kidneys, knockwurst and souffles) and rearrange the furniture after each visit so that there’s a photo of the current stewardess on the table. The sly Bernard gets by juggling their schedules, but things get more hectic when all the girls inform him they have been reassigned to the newest and fastest Boeing jets and will get to spend more time with him. Also, his socially awkward journalist friend Robert Reed (Jerry Lewis), a rival in love and work, intrudes and through blackmail forces an invite to the swinging bachelor’s pad and tries to move in on his pal’s merchandise. As part of the deal, Robert has to help the energetic Bernard to keep the women from discovering the secret arrangement. When the girls find out the truth, there’s hell to pay and the boys flee in a taxi with Bernard cooking up another swinging arrangement with the lady cab driver who has two female cab driver roommates driving the other shifts.

The slight comedy never got off the ground.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”