A Touch Of Class (1973)

by Paul on November 21, 2012

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A Touch Of Class is a 1973 romantic comedy film directed by Melvin Frank. It was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. In a year with an extremely diverse group of Best Picture nominees (American Graffiti, Cries And Whispers, The Exorcist and The Sting), A Touch Of Class is probably the most lighthearted and romantic of the group.

Steve Blackburn (George Segal) is a married man. He lives in London and has never cheated on his wife…”while they’re inA Touch Of Class (1973) the same town“. Vicky Allesio (Glenda Jackson) is the divorced mother of two who has become a workaholic and is ignoring her personal life. After several chance meetings, they decide that it would be to their mutual advantage to have an affair. Vicky suggests that they go somewhere sunny for the weekend, and before you know it, they’re on their way to Spain. In Spain, after several comedic mishaps, they begin to enjoy more than just the sex together. They decide to continue the affair after they have returned home, in hope that they can find some way to enjoy each other and their “normal” lives as well.

A Touch Of Class is an enjoyable film, but I found myself waiting for the big finish that just doesn’t come. The laughs are consistent and the characters are enjoyable, but without any tenderness, the film feels somewhat flat and deflated. I realize that in the early seventies this movie may have appealed to a wide audience, but as time has gone by, a father and A Touch Of Class (1973)husband involved in an affair has become a difficult character with which one can sympathize. (Unless of course you’re talking about a Fatal Attraction situation.) Today, the Steve character is easy to hate as he juggles both women, where as the Vicky character is divorced, and therefore today many see her as an innocent character. Since she isn’t cheating on anyone, somehow she is guiltless. I suppose that just demonstrates the differences in what in socially acceptable in film, between the two time periods.

Co-writer (with Jack Rose), producer and director Melvin Frank is competent with his work, but his direction isn’t anything special, and because of this the film suffers. He really shines in his writing (as he did for most of his career) with comic scenarios and continuous laughs. The romance angle and personal feelings are played down, while the comicA Touch Of Class (1973) jokes and situations flow freely. Melvin Frank made exactly what he had set out to: a comedy film with a romantic angle.

Retired Cary Grant was offered the role, but decided he wasn’t right for the part. He made a good decision there. The younger George Segal seemed better suited for the role and ended up playing it without the natural “classiness” that would have filled the screen if Grant were there. Segal had to win me over, whereas Grant would have had me before the film began, and that wouldn’t have worked as well. Glenda Jackson, on the other hand, gives a wonderful performance and comes out the real “classy” member of the cast. She won an Academy Award for her performance and that is obviously understandable considering her work in the film.

A Touch Of Class (1973)In 1973, Melvin Frank co-wrote, produced and directed the film Lost And Found that once again features George Segal, Glenda Jackson and a couple of the same supporting actors as well. It is not a sequel in any sense, but with so many of the same people involved it should have been entertaining in the very least. Unfortunately, the reviews and box office performance both indicate exactly the opposite.

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