[Film Review] The Out-of-Towners (1970)

The Out Of Towners poster

Title: The Out-of-Towners
Year: 1970
Country: USA
Language: English, Spanish
Genre: Comedy
Director: Arthur Hiller
Writer: Neil Simon
Music: Quincy Jones
Cinematography: Andrew Laszlo
Jack Lemmon
Sandy Dennis
Billy Dee Williams
Ann Prentiss
Ron Carey
Johnny Brown
Richard Libertini
Sandy Baron
Anthony Holland
Graham Jarvis
Anne Meara
Carlos Montalbán
Paul Dooley
Rating: 4.4/10

The Out Of Towners 1970

“I guess I’m just a little irritable” confesses Gwen Kellerman (Dennis), after the insufferable misfortunes she and her hubby George (Lemmon) have been gone through within a lesser-than-twelve-hour stretch, and end up being stranded in the Central Park of NYC, is probably what a first-time viewer vicariously feels at that exact point, and the misery is far from winding up.

A Neil Simon’s comedy directed by Arthur Hiller, who was in his heyday with a major awards contender LOVE STORY (1970) in the can the same year in December. The story involves a concatenation of mishaps which are constituted with hoary incidents, befall on the ill-fated couple from a small town in Ohio. George is scheduled to have an interview for a job promotion in NYC, which seems to be a cinch to get. So he arranges a stay in the Waldorf-Astoria, and a fancy dinner in the Four Season with Gwen, but starts with the busy air traffic control and an unexpected heavy fog around Kennedy International Airport, their voyage turns out to be an unabated chain of nightmares, whatever contretemps could possibly happen to the out-of-towners, happens, and they are all heavy-handedly implemented.

Jack Lemmon has never looked so jaded and aggrieved, and Sandy Dennis has deteriorated into a ceaseless vent of annoyance as their plight aggravates. The movie is a farce intemperately piles up all possible gags consecutively, without any discretion to varnish a tad of empathy and reasoning onto its rudimentary ballast of cheap laughters. “New York will not stop me”, this is the spirit, it is self-boasting individualism Vs. collective machinery of a metropolis, bluntly juxtaposed with a ridicule about bourgeois esprit and a then-topical reference of Cuba. You are aware of the intention, but can hardly buy it for the in-your-face combo-package.

How much fun can one get from watching other people’s misery? This film provides a feasible answer: nil if you overcook it, that is the unmistakable blunder trips THE OUT-OF-TOWNERS, it’s as if you are watching a chapter of FINAL DESTINATION, waiting for something bad regularly occurring but in this case, death is not an option, not even on a hijacked plane to Cuba.


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