S.O.B.

Synopsis: A battle-scarred veteran of Hollywood takes aim.

Felix Farmer’s (Richard Mulligan) latest movie flops – and lots of Hollywood types spring into action. Agents are called. Lawyers are retained. Statements are issued. It’s what master comedy director Blake Edwards calls “Standard Opening Bull,” the subject of his gleefully satiric S.O.B..

Julie Andrews is a wholesome superstar about to alter her image… radically. Aiding and abetting the madness are William Holden, Robert Preston, Robert Vaughn, Shelley Winters, Loretta Swat, and more. Dialogue crackles like fat in a fire, gags range from dead-on deadpan to comedic broadsides, insights bristle and sting. Nothing standard here: S.O.B. is extraordinary.
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S.O.B. 8.0

Blake Edwards has had major hits, but he certainly also had his share of misfires. Even his classic Pink Panther series went to hell in the ‘80s, marred by poor scripts, acting and editing. Essentially, his later-day output was not nearly as potent as his earlier one – he had been struggling since the early ‘70s (without the success of the Panther sequels, he would have had very little exposure).

This brings us to ‘S.O.B.’, which is a largely forgotten black comedy about the movie industry. It follows a dozen characters trying to deal with the dramatic flop of a big-budget movie, starting, notably, with the director’s failed attempt at suicide. Yes, suicide. Failed. One of many.

From that point onward, we are treated to a satirical look at the behind-the-scenes wrangling of Hollywood productions. And, frankly, it’s VERY entertaining. While I didn’t laugh out loud very often, I must admit that I found it all terribly amusing. And the cast was very solid, thereby supporting an already wonderful script.

Sadly, I think the only thing that this film is really remembered for is Julie Andrews’ notorious topless scene – which, ironically, her character did for HER filmmaker husband (life imitates art: she was married to Blake Edwards at the time ;). It’s a shame, because Edwards’ transparent condemnation of the industry has been channelled into a truly delightful film that warrants repeat viewings. It shouldn’t just be a blip on the radar.

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