Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, September 7, 2017


Peter Sellers turns on, drops out, and takes a bath
I LOVE YOU, ALICE B. TOKLAS (1968). Director: Hy Averback.

Harold (Peter Sellers) is a successful lawyer with a hippie brother, Herbie (David Arkin), an anxious fiancee, Joyce (Joyce Van Patten of Perry Mason), and an even more anxious mother (Jo Van Fleet). After being introduced to Nancy (Leigh Taylor-Young), a sort of girlfriend of his brother's, Harold finds himself attracted to her. It isn't long before he says goodbye to Joyce, "drops out" of his regular life, and adopts the hippie lifestyle with Nancy (while staying in his fabulous apartment). Will he ever come to his senses? The title refers to some hash brownies made by Nancy (the recipe apparently comes from a cookbook written by Toklas, Gertrude Stein's companion), and which are eaten by Harold, his father (Salem Ludwig) and his mother, who says the title line with a happy glaze on her eyes. Many sixties comedies with drug and hippie references don't date at all well, but I Love You is still a very, very funny movie (even if it has fun with things that really aren't funny, such as a funeral for a beloved husband and being literally left at the altar). with excellent performances from the entire cast. Sellers, of course, is just wonderful, and he is matched by a terrific Van Fleet in a great comic performance to compare with  her wonderful dramatic work in such films as Wild River. Apparently, no one really knew how to end the film, so the finale to this is rather stupid. Taylor-Young was introduced in this film and later wound up on Dallas in a nice role. David Arkin was an attractive and appealing actor who had a few credits, mostly in Robert Altman's films, and committed suicide at 49.

Verdict: You won't even need some Alice B. Toklas brownies to enjoy this movie. ***.


angelman66 said...

Great cast, a mix of contemporary and classic stars. I am happy you love Jo Van Fleet as much as I do. Love her in East of Eden and also as Susan Hayward's stage mother in I'll Cry Tomorrow. Red to see this zany movie again, it has been years.
- Chris

William said...

It's worth seeking out, definitely. And yes, Van Fleet was an extremely gifted actress. I don't know if she had "diva" aspects but it was probably worth putting up with that considering how great her performances are.