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The Loved One

124 customer reviews

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(Jun 20, 2006)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The funeral business gets a giant raspberry in this wickedly wacky, resplendently ridiculous farce based on Evelyn Waugh's macabre comic masterpiece and directed with inspired verve by Tony Richardson (Tom Jones). But the American way of death isn't the film's only target: sex, greed, religion and mother love are also in the crosshairs of its satirical shots. Robert Morse plays a bemused would-be poet who gets entangled with an unctuous cemetery entrepreneur (Jonathan Winters), a mom-obsessed mortician (Rod Steiger) and other bizarre characters played by such adept farceurs as John Gielgud, Robert Morley, Tab Hunter, Milton Berle, James Coburn and Liberace. If The Loved One doesn't make you laugh, call the undertaker!

DVD Features:
Featurette:Trying to Offend Everyone
Theatrical Trailer

In olden days, as Cole Porter famously observed, a mere glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking. So it's heartening to report that this 1965 black comedy still delivers on its billing as "the motion picture with something to offend everyone." Tony Richardson, fresh off the liberating Tom Jones, brings Evelyn Waugh's self-described "little nightmare" to the screen with all its sacrilegious shocks (and then some!) intact, courtesy of screenwriters Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove) and Christopher Isherwood. Robert Morse stars as Dennis Barlow, an Englishman abroad and a fish out of water in Southern California. Stumbling across the Hollywood landscape like a cross between Candide and Jerry Lewis. Barlow gets a unique perspective of the American experience when he finds employment at the Happier Hunting Ground, a ramshackle pet cemetery, and the flipside of the fabulously vulgar Whispering Glades. In a virtuoso dual role, Jonathan Winters costars as glad-handing Happier Hunting Grounds proprietor Harry, whose brother, Whispering Glades' Blessed Reverend, has some out-of-this-world plans for the "Loved Ones." The mad, mad, mad mad cast also includes John Gielgud as Dennis's ill-fated expatriate uncle, an artist unceremoniously booted from the movie studio where he has worked for 31 years; Anjanette Comer as Aimee, a Whispering Glades cosmetician torn between Dennis and embalmer Mr. Joyboy (an unforgettable Rod Steiger), who registers his broken heart on the faces of his corpses; a teenage Paul Williams as a science prodigy; Liberace as a funeral salesman peddling eternal flames both "perpetual or standard"; Milton Berle and Margaret Leighton as "a typical well-adjusted American couple" whose deceased dog puts a crimp in their dinner plans; and even Jamie Farr, seen fleetingly as a waiter. The Loved One anticipates the "New Hollywood" with its naturalistic cinematography by Haskell Wexler (Medium Cool) and "anything goes" sensibility (the dinner scene with Joyboy and his obese mother would not be out of place in a John Waters movie). By turns creepy and grotesquely funny, The Loved One will bury you. --Donald Liebenson

Special Features

  • New featurette: "Trying to Offend Everyone"
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Robert Morse, Jonathan Winters, Anjanette Comer, Dana Andrews, Milton Berle
  • Directors: Tony Richardson
  • Writers: Christopher Isherwood, Evelyn Waugh, Terry Southern
  • Producers: Haskell Wexler, John Calley, Neil Hartley
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Black & White, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: June 20, 2006
  • Run Time: 122 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (124 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000ERVK4O
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #47,357 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Loved One" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Bruce Kendall VINE VOICE on May 17, 2003
Format: DVD
This is another film that's been secreted away in the MGM vaults that just cries out to be adequately transferred to DVD.
Talent abounds here. Start with a great director in Tony Richardson (Tom Jones, A Delicate Balance, The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner, The Entertainer, etc) who is the perfect choice for such a project. Have Christopher Isherwood and Terry Southern adapt the screenplay from a wonderful Evelyn Waugh novel. Assemble a perfect cast, including James Coburn and Dana Andrews, Milton Berle, Tab Hunter, Roddy McDowall, Margaret Leighton and Liberace (unforgettably!) in cameo roles. Feature the likes of Rod Steiger (why didn't he try more comedy? He's brilliant here!), John Gielgud, Jonathan Winters in memorable supporting roles and top it off with excellent leads in Robert Morse and Anjanette Comer (both relative unknowns at the time, but perfect for the roles).
How could the movie not be memorable?
Suffice it to say it holds up amazingly well after almost 40 years. It has to rank as one of the great classic comedies of the sixties.
The plot revolves around a young English twit named Dennis Barlow (Morse) who shows up at his uncle's (Gielgud's) doorstep, having won his air passage to LAX through some absurd stroke of luck. He has no money and his gregarious uncle takes him in and introduces him to the expatriated Brits that inhabit LA. Chief among these is the snobbish Sir Ambrose Abercrombe (Morley) who takes an instant dislike to Barlow, whom he feels doesn't adequately represent the proper English gentleman (and he doesn't). In short order, Uncle Francis is canned by his crass Hollywood Studio boss (McDowall), in spite of the fact that he has been a faithful employee for 30 years.
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36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By jim yoakum on December 29, 2001
Format: DVD
Brilliant. Disturbing. Perplexing. Hilarious. Neglected.
Screenwriter Terry Southern (with the equally brilliant Christopher Isherwood) are the true stars here, having drafted and crafted a movie that's both truly disturbing and hilarious. One of Southern's finest film scripts (a worthy equal to his Dr Strangelove and Easy Rider scripts), The Loved One is an unjustly ignored and forgotten gem from a time when smart comedies were not only critically lauded but publically applauded. Demand the release on DVD!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Jim M. on December 11, 2006
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I consider this one of those rarest of movies: a film that is better than the book it is based upon. That's not to put down Waugh's wonderful book, but Waugh was a gentleman, which meant he went for subtlety--the right move when writing about English upper class, but not when dealing with Hollywood. The film nails the absurdity of Hollywood and the death culture that feeds off it. Rod Steiger turns in the most entertaining performance of his career. John Waters clearly got a lot of ideas from this movie (although I have never heard him cop to it). My only complaint about this DVD is that it doesn't include, with the extras, the excised footage of Jayne Mansfield and Ruth Gordon. I use this movie as a litmus test. If I show this movie to someone and they don't like, that's pretty much the last time they are invited to my house.
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28 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Wayne A. VINE VOICE on May 19, 2004
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
In a parallel universe this is a flick that's as well known as Strangelove or The Producers. Yes, Steiger should have done more comedy--he's incredible in this movie.
I write this with the hope that someone out there is adding up the votes for a DVD release. I'll also add that the long out of print "Catalogue of Cool" dubbed 1962 " The Last Good Year." After that...well, we lost a lot of our wit, charm, whimsy, humanity, and creativity to Viet Nam, Watergate, and all the other dreariness--from Reaganism to Political Correctness--that led up to this uniquely ugly moment in history. There were a lot of sharp films made in the late Fifties to early Sixties that had qualities sadly lacking since--check out Wilder's "One, Two, Three" or "Inherit the Wind." One reviewer notes that "The Loved One" is black comedy without the nihilism. I agree and that's kind of what I mean. This era of film deserves a re-examination and we could all probably learn a lot from it.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John Ellis on May 19, 2006
Format: DVD
Based on Evelyn Waugh's tighter and nearly perfect novel about Hollywood, the British colony there and the capitalistic approach to death, "The Loved One" is full of vinegar, bile, pique and nerve, which is a rare thing from Hollywood. Actors who were often asked to do little get a chance to play dark cogs in the wheels of the industries of entertainment and undertaking here: particularly Tab Hunter as the guide on a mortuary tour and Liberace as a coffin salesman, absolute perfection. Jonathan Winters gets his best role in film as twin brothers, one of whom would be God if it weren't a step down. John Gielgud gives a priceless performance, even after he is dead. Robert Morse is slightly miscast as the English Candide, mostly because he doesn't master the accent. Rod Steiger gives his most bizarre performance looking eerily like he did late in life, sans the blonde toupee. Even Milton Berle is really good, playing it completely straight for once. The lunatic idea at the end - shooting coffins into space - was actually floated during the Reagan administration, which this film foreshadows in very strange ways. The message at the end - move to England - was prescient. Perhaps this is the best film to capture the absurdities of California. If you are free of any sense of irony, you'll hate this.

Story from friend who worked on it: Gielgud was shooting his little monologue, a parody of the "This sceptered isle" speech, and a crew member directly in his line of sight thoughtfully picked his nose throughout. Gielgud finished the take, paused so it could be cut, then said, "Dear boy, when the knuckles of your finger reach the bridge of your nose, wave."
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Most Recent Customer Reviews


Topic From this Discussion
Wilber's other name?
Yes!! It's obvious that none of the actors are saying "Will," but what ARE they saying, and why was the name changed? Unfortunately, the DVD does not seem to provide the answer, and neither does IMDB. There are other scenes where the actors' lip movements do not seem to match the... Read More
Sep 9, 2006 by John R. Logue |  See all 4 posts
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