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FORTY CARATS (director: Milton Katselas; screenwriters: Leonard Gershe/Jay Presson Allen/Jay Lerner bases it on the French play by Pierre Barillet & Jean-Pierre Gredy; cinematographer: Charles Lang; editor: David E. Blewitt; music: Michel Legrand; cast: Liv Ullmann (Ann Stanley), Edward Albert (Peter Latham), Gene Kelly (Billy Boylan), Binnie Barnes (Maud Ericson), Deborah Raffin (Trina Stanley), Billy Green Bush (J.D. Rogers), Nancy Walker (Mrs. Margolin), Natalie Schafer (Mrs. Adams); Runtime: 108; MPAA Rating: PG; producer: M.J. Frankovich; Columbia; 1973)
“It’s a trifle.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Former stage director turned film director Milton Katselas (“Butterflies are Free”/”Report to the Commissioner”/ “When You Comin’ Back Red Ryder?”) helms this romantic comedy in as lackluster a way as possible. It’s based on the funny Jay Lerner Broadway play that was based on the French farce play by Pierre Barillet & Jean-Pierre Gredy and is adapted to the screen with a far too serious tone by Leonard Gershe and Jay Presson Allen. It’s a trifle, but held out promise in the casting of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman star Liv Ullmann in the plum part of the older woman in a love triangle story. The fine Norwegian actress is too intelligent for the dumb part and ends up playing a role that she can’t possibly make work, as she has no flair for doing comedy. The miscast actress looked flabbergasted for most of the film, as if she was afraid that if she drank another ouzo she would let her guard down and freely state she had no idea what she was doing in this part. The part was first offered Audrey Hepburn, but she was married to an Italian doctor and would only film in Rome.

Forty-year-old conservative divorcee Manhattan Realtor Ann Stanley (Liv Ullmann) finds herself attracted while on holiday in Greece to the intelligent, personable New Yorker named Peter Latham (Edward Albert). The only catch is that he’s 22-years-old, which is about half her age. They meet when her car breaks down and they spend a night together on the beach. She abruptly leaves him to return to New York. At home she’s shocked to find him in her apartment taking her seventeen-year-old daughter Trina (Deborah Raffin) to her date to play pool with his roommate, who couldn’t come himself. When Peter pursues her, with marriage in mind, poor Ann doesn’t know how to handle it. The career satisfied but love-starved Ann has support in the relationship from her flaky 60-year-old mom (Binnie Barnes, whose husband Mike Frankovich produced the film) and her charming always broke gambler ex-husband Billy Boylan (Gene Kelly), who does bit parts in TV pilots and sometimes acts in coffee commercials. Ann’s ex tells her to think of her age as not in years “but carats. You’re a multi-careted, blue-white diamond!”

It scores a few laughs as sitcom, mainly from the wisecracking efforts of Ullmann’s real-estate secretary (Nancy Walker), but over all it never comes together in a satisfactory way. The writers made the film more serious than the play, and that just didn’t pan out. The relationship of the older woman and the youngster never seemed real or made us care in how it was resolved.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”