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A Fine Madness
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Genius, poet and carpet cleaner Samson Shillitoe (Sean Connery) has writer's block - and he can't bluster, clobber or curse it away. But just watch him take Manhattan by storm trying in this whirlwind comedy! It's a certifiable case of A Fine Madness, as nonconformist Samson and his beleaguered wife (Joanne Woodward) plunge into a series of daffy disasters from which he still comes up smiling. That is, until he dallies with the lovely wife (Jean Seberg) of a scheming psychiatrist (Patrick O'Neal), who seeks revenge by prescribing "brain surgery." Shillitoe will need the might of Samson to face down his foes, but with Connery's full-tilt charisma and Irvin Kershner's buoyant direction, it's flinty, funny entertainment. Director: Irvin Kershner Starring: Sean Connery, Joanne Woodward, Jean Seberg
A Fine Madness would never pass muster by today's politically correct standards. The "hero" of this 1966 comedy, a pompous poet named Samson Shillitoe (Sean Connery, doing a Saturday Night Live version of himself), is a classic bad boy--"an exact cross between Dylan Thomas and Mike Tyson," as one reviewer put it, a sexist philanderer who reneges on alimony to his first wife and punches out his second (Joanne Woodward, shrill and tiresome), can't keep a job, and insults, alienates, and abuses anyone who comes within two feet of him. (All of which makes him a total chick magnet, because he's an artist who has no time for quotidian vicissitudes, and also because he's Sean Connery.) Even taking the cultural time warp into account, it's hard to say what Irvin Kershner, who directed Elliott Baker's script from Baker's own novel, had in mind here, other than showing that Connery could do something besides play James Bond (in fact, the film was both preceded and followed by Bond adventures). Samson is an unredeemable jerk, the other characters are mostly unlikable as well, and the story, which involves psychiatrist Patrick O'Neal ordering him to undergo a lobotomy after he seduces the good doc's wife (Jean Seberg), is unconvincingly resolved. The film does a decent job of skewering the psychiatric profession and its pretensions, and Samson is probably meant to embody the whole screw-the-establishment ethos of the '60s, but overall, A Fine Madness is dated and simply not funny enough. One footnote: Kershner went on to bigger and better things with Star Wars: Episode V - The Empire Strikes Back. Ironically, he also directed Never Say Never Again, a 1983 Bond film with none other than Sean Connery as 007. --Sam Graham
- Vintage featurette: "Mondo Connery"
- Theatrical trailer
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