(director: Peter Yates; screenwriters: Stanley Shapiro/ Maurice Richlin; cinematographer: Laszlo Kovacs; editor: Frank Keller; music: Artie Butler; cast: Barbra Streisand (Henry), Michael Sarrazin (Barbra Streisand), Estelle Parsons (Helen), William Redfield (Fred), Molly Picon (Mrs. Cherry), Louis Zorich (Nick), Heywood Hale Broun (Judge Hiller), Vivian Bonnell (Loretta), Richard Ward (Bernie), Joe Maher (Mr. Coates), Jack Hollander (loan shark); Runtime: 90; MPAA Rating: PG; producers: Martin Erlichman/Stanley Shapiro; Columbia Pictures; 1974)

“Never scores the belly laughs it desires.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Featherweight farce with strained comedy. Uneven filmmaker Peter Yates (“Bullitt”/”The Friends of Eddie Coyle”/”Breaking Away”) directs from a screenplay by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin (they scripted Pillow Talk for Doris Day and Rock Hudson).

Henrietta is nicknamed Henry (Barbra Streisand). She’s a brassy Brooklyn housewife, who also works out of her apartment in telephone sales for household products. She’s married to struggling cab driver Pete Robbins (Michael Sarrazin). They are lovebirds, but are having difficulty paying their bills and because of poor finances he’s a dropout architect student. When Pete mentions his dispatcher (Louis Zorich) has inside info on a meat deal between the United States and the Soviet Union, his helpful wife tries to get him a loan to invest in pork-belly futures on the stock market. But she is turned down by friends and family. In desperation she goes to a Mafia loan shark (Jack Hollander) to borrow $3,000 with 20% interest at the end of the week. Naturally everything goes wrong, and Henry’s forced to deal with tough underworld types. The situation turns absurd with Henry being forced by the mobsters to turn to prostitution to square things with them and then even more absurd as she’s asked to do other things for the mob when she proves to be a bad risk as a prostitute, as the mobsters sell her contract to other mobsters increasing her interest on the loan.

The movie fails to hold up due to uninteresting performances from everyone concerned. The main culprit is Streisand, whose comedy range is too narrow and her timing is too off to garner much more than silliness from her cartoonish antics. It never scores the belly laughs it desires.