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Claudia Draper (Barbra Streisand) is a high-priced prostitute. She has been arrested for killing one of her johns (Leslie Nielsen), and her erratic behavior and frequent outbursts would lead one to believe she is crazy. Her mother (Maureen Stapleton) and stepfather (Karl Malden) have
conspired with their attorney (William Prince) to have Claudia committed to a mental institution rather than have her go on trial for manslaughter. Claudia knows that if she is committed, she may never get out of her hospital gown. She wants a sanity hearing and wishes to stand trial, believing
she can prove the killing was in self-defense. After Claudia physically attacks her parents' attorney, he immediately asks to be taken off the case. A hapless public defender, Aaron Levinsky (Richard Dreyfuss), is given the task of dealing with the wild woman. There are holes galore in the script.
As a story, it's thin. As cinema, it's static. There is enough in all the performances to make it a diversion, but little more. For a fleeting moment, there is just a scintilla of attraction between Dreyfuss and Streisand; but that's tossed aside in favor of the bare-bones plot. Although he
costars, Dreyfuss has fashioned more of a Best Supporting Actor performance and seems happy to stand outside the glow of Streisand's histrionics. Despite all of her emoting, the picture seldom catches fire. All of the secondary roles are well cast, and Martin Ritt's direction is as good as it can
be, considering the script's limitations.