A scarred young woman, a paraplegic homosexual, and an epileptic decide to throw in their lots together in this earnest comedy-drama. Sound like fun? It isn't. Minnelli's face is badly scarred; Piazza, an ex-boyfriend threw acid at her when she laughed at him for wanting to make love in a
cemetery. Moore is confined to a wheelchair as the result of a somewhat suspect hunting accident. Howard, who was long thought to be retarded, turns out to be the victim of an unnamed disease that resembles epilepsy. When the three meet in a hospital and are released at the same time, they decide
to move in together in a house owned by a wealthy eccentric, Thompson. Howard gets a job working at a fish market run by Coco, and everything seems to be going along well until Thompson invites her tenants to dinner. In the middle of the evening, she makes Moore an offer: if he gets up out his
wheelchair and walks (Thompson believes his paralysis is psychsomatic), she'll give him a valuable jeweled cross. Naturally, Moore can't walk. When Coco gets a phone call from someone saying that Howard is gay (the caller assumes that Howard must be if he is living with Moore), he fires Howard,
albeit reluctantly. The three are despondent, so the kindly Coco, who has fallen in love with Minnelli, lends them the needed money to take a short holiday at a seaside resort. At the resort, social director Williamson carries Moore around on his back; later, Moore has his first heterosexual
experience with Williamson's girlfriend, Yancy. Howard declares his love for Minnelli, but she is still afraid of men. However, he continues his wooing of her and she finally acquiesces. No sooner do they make love than Howard's health begins to deteriorate. He eventually dies in Minnelli's arms,
and his funeral is attended by only Minnelli, Moore, and Coco.
To his credit, director Preminger never presents these characters in a grotesque fashion. Indeed, every attempt is made to show them as slightly quirky people striving for normal lives. Howard, who was discovered while playing in the Broadway musical "1776," had worked before with Moore, who
directed "Promises, Promises" for the stage. Anxious to become a movie director, Moore (who would go on to direct MURDER BY DEATH and THE CHEAP DETECTIVE before dying in 1985) wanted to work as an actor so he could learn the film medium.
It was while this movie was being shot that Minnelli's mother, Judy Garland, died in London, and though the strain on the young actress was enormous, it may actually have contributed to her excellent portrayal here. After shooting in a New England cemetery, Preminger was sued by a several
individuals who claimed that he had desecrated their relatives' graves. However, because the filmmaker had already obtained permission to shoot in the graveyard, he won the cases. In general, the movie was expensive to do because of its many locations, including The Kona Kai hotel on Shelter
Island near San Diego, Sequoia National Park, and several towns in Massachusetts. Songs include "Elvira" (Pacific Gas and Electric, performed by Pacific Gas and Electric), "Old Devil Time" (Pete Seeger, performed by Seeger), "The Rake," "Work Your Own Show" (Estelle Levitt, Philip Springer). leave a comment