Thursday, June 07, 2018

10

Enormously popular (the seventh biggest hit of 1979, snuggled between ALIEN and THE JERK) and influential (a lot of white ladies sported cornrows for awhile), the touching farce 10 boosted the career of star Dudley Moore (FOUL PLAY) and made leading lady Bo Derek (TARZAN THE APE MAN) an international superstar. The title refers to Derek’s beauty on scale of one to 10, and writer/director Blake Edwards didn’t have to work too hard to convince audiences it was true.

Moore, who replaced George Segal during shooting, is George Webber, a successful Hollywood songwriter having a midlife crisis at age 42. He spots a breathtakingly gorgeous woman (Derek, natch) and becomes so obsessed with her that he follows her on her Acapulco honeymoon just to be near her.

As played by Moore and written by Edwards (DAYS OF WINE AND ROSES), Webber’s emotional ennui is deeper than just a crush on a sexy young woman. Despite a steady partner, Sam Taylor, who is successful, talented, intelligent, and attractive (as is Julie Andrews, who plays Sam), not to mention his wealth and his four Academy Awards, George is unhappy, and his depression manifests as an obsession with sex.

But let’s not get too deep. 10 is also a film with a lot of trademark Edwards slapstick, played by Moore as well as Peter Sellers ever did, and silliness. Moore even drinks funny. One of the film’s most uproarious scenes finds an awkward Moore cringing through a terrible song (intentionally composed that way by Henry Mancini) performed by reverend Max Showalter (NIAGARA), while a doddering old blind woman shuffles around the room (and into a wall). One hilarious running gag has Moore constantly spying on his neighbor (Don Calfa) with a telescope, only to be frustrated by all the kinky sex going on over there.

The acting is terrific across the board. Moore is playing a basically unsympathetic character, but you can understand why a great woman like Sam would love him (Andrews’ performance helps in this regard as well). Robert Webber (S.O.B.) scores as George’s gay songwriting partner. Dee Wallace (CUJO) is poignant as George’s unsuccessful Mexican fling. Brian Dennehy (FIRST BLOOD) practically steals the picture as a sympathetic bartender (“I’m 37. But I look 40.”).

And then there’s Bo, who certainly was no great shakes as an actress, but in the hands of a talented director, comes across very well. It’s tough to play, in effect, the sexiest woman in the world, someone so beautiful that it drives George almost literally mad with desire. 10 is probably the only time the young Bo Derek doesn’t come across as vapid (she once admitted to David Letterman she didn’t remember the name of her high school). But then she never worked with a director like Blake Edwards either.

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