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Just Tell Me What You Want


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Editorial Reviews

When Max Herschel (Alan King), the ruthless magnate who has everything, loses his executive mistress Bones Burton (Ali MacGraw) to a young playwright (Peter Weller), he carves out a whole new battlefield in the war between the sexes! Director Sidney Lumet's sophisticated comedy, written by three-time Lumet collaborator Jay Presson Allen, chronicles the combat in winningly witty style. When the very rich spat, weapons include movie studios, TV talk shows and art collections - and in the most spectacular lovers' quarrel ever filmed, Bones and Max demolish half the ground floor of Bergdorf Goodman. Myrna Loy as Max's wise secretary, Dina Merrill as Max's neurotic wife and Keenan Wynn as Max's formidable "best enemy" see action as well. For romantic comedy that's elegant and also a hoot, Just Tell Me What You Want is indeed what you want.

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Product Details

  • Actors: Ali Macgraw, Alan King, Peter Weller, Myrna Loy, Dina Merrill
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: All Regions
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.77:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: WB
  • DVD Release Date: January 24, 2011
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004H0M2VY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #35,661 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Very smartly written and directed.
Dede's DVD's
Alan King -- "Max" --- is hilarious and Ali McGraw perfect in this hilarious upscale comedy.
Mayanne Downs
Not just in their everyday business world, but also in their relationships.
Rodney Luck

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

32 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Gypsychick on August 15, 2001
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
An admitted fan of obscure titles, this film is one that sits proudly on my shelf and just about everyone asks "What's this about?" It's about life. The plot revolves around a selfish and wealthy man with a wife, and a secretary and a mistress who alternately wants and then rebuffs just about everyone. Alan King is drop dead great in the most solid performance of his career as Max the high rolling lover of long suffering mistress Bones Burton (Ali McGraw). He wants her, he doesn't want her, he doesn't know what he wants. But he definitely doesn't want anyone else to have her, especially playwright Peter Weller. Let the battle of the sexes begin once again and Max is a man who never loses anything. The very rich are not at all that different than you and I, but their problems unfold a bit differently when set against the backdrop of designer clothes and jewels, are juggled by assistants and buffers, and are played out in fabulous penthouses and mansions. Somehow it seems a bit more hilarious. A good solid screenplay and an even, funny film under the direction of Sidney Lumet. It is worth buying and seeing more than once. Look for Myrna Loy who is wonderful as Max's secretary.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Movie Collector on November 23, 2008
Format: VHS Tape
I first saw this movie in the early 80's became an instant Alan King fan and purchased it immediately. The movie was hilarious. It is about a tycoon (Max) with a alcoholic wife (Connie), mistress (Bones) and a protective secretary (Stella) and how Max's agressive, manipulative and vindictive personality affects all. Anyone who watches this movie will never forget the hilarious scene where Bones (McGraw) attacks Max (King) at Bergdorf's.
The review below is unchanged but I am happy to inform everyone that Warner Archives released this movie. It is burned on demand.

******************************************************************

You could classify this movie as the comedic version of Wall Street. Gordon Gecko - "Greed is good"
Max Hershel - "You don't get poor by taking."

It was wonderful to see Myrna Loy as Stella the protective and sensible secretary. Also who could forget Ali McGraw as Bones the intelligent and ambitious mistress caught up in Max's (Alan King's) selfish, crazy and hectic world. Dina Merrill as Connie was classy as usual. I have been a fan of Keenan Wynn since Finian's Rainbow and he was wonderful as Max's old rival Seymour Berger. Also, a very young Peter Weller as Bones's love interest Steven Routledge in his second big screen appearance.

I cherish my video of this movie and hope that Warner Bros. releases this movie on DVD before my VHS copy deteriorates.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Mayanne Downs on April 14, 2006
Format: VHS Tape Verified Purchase
And you'll find yourself falling in love with it. Alan King -- "Max" --- is hilarious and Ali McGraw perfect in this hilarious upscale comedy. Fun actors included: Keenan Wynn (as a ailing Jewish tycoon); Dina Merrill (as Alan King's blueblood but drunken wife); Judy Kaye (great Broadway actress as Alan King's daughter "Baby" -- her daughter is named "Newbaby"); Myrna Loy (yes the old film star) as Max's sec'y; and Tony Roberts as Keenan Wynn's effete and homosexual movie company president.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By David Baldwin on January 23, 2011
Format: DVD
Sidney Lumet is not a director known for comedies. For a goodly part of "Just Tell Me Want You Want" I thought "Dog Day Afternoon" was funnier and this flick only slightly more raucous than "The Pawnbroker". Bear in mind that the principals here on the surface are not nice people. They are cynical, ruthless, mercenary and cold-blooded. I was ready to dismiss it as a heartless exercise. One, however, has to allow the deliberate pacing of the film and script to appreciate what Lumet and scenarist Jay Presson Allen are trying to say here. This is brilliant hybrid of dark and screwball comic sensibilities. Yes these are essentially mean and unsympathetic people. That said they are allegedly human beings and they need love even if it comes as some sort of financial negotiation or merger. The cast here is uniformly terrific. Alan King, better known as a stand-up comic and TV emcee, was born to play Max Herschel a man amasses fortunes and collects mistresses the way kids collect baseball cards. I've never been impressed with Ali MacGraw as an actress but as Herschel's primary mistress she's given a part with a little grist she runs with it. It's remarkable how sparks fly when she goes toe-to-toe with King whether they be romantic or mercantile. Myrna Loy shines as Herschel's seen-it-all secretary whose as adept at picking up his cleaning as well as organizing his love life. In less profane times, Loy and William Powell used to sparkle with this kind of material. I remember when this film came out in the Spring of 1980 it had a blink and you missed it theatrical run. It was promoted as some kind of routine wacky romantic comedy ergo the poster art of MacGraw whacking a prone King with her purse. The studios didn't know what to do with tricky material like this but ambitious viewers should appreciate it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By William Ervolino on April 1, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Saw this in theaters when it came out, then got the VHS version, have been waiting patiently for the DVD.

"Just Tell Me..." isn't a perfect film, it gets a little lost in the middle with a sub-plot that drags. Still, the central love story, between Ali MacGraw and Alan King is hard to resist. She's smart. He's all bluster, but has a good heart. And you know that, deep down, they're made for each other -- even if his ego, business life and fractured marriage stand in the way. Myrna Loy is wonderful, as are Dina Merrill, Keenan Wynn and most of the talented supporting cast.

The movie brings Ali back to Old Westbury Gardens -- the mansion there was also used in "Love Story."

King has never been better, and he is hilarious when he loses his temper -- which is often. McGraw is also terrific, and strikes just the right balance between patient girl-on-the-side and super-successful girl-about-town. She knows what she wants. But getting it involves some serious (and seriously charming) negotiations with someone who has mastered the art of the deal.
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