Reviewed by Glenn Erickson
With all the high-class DVD product out there, Savant reviews this?
U.S. audiences are probably know U.K. star Norman Wisdom only through the musical
The Night They Raided Minsky's where he shared the burlesque stage with Jason
Robards Jr.. This lowbrow English sex comedy restricts its ambitions to the problems of a bored
banker set loose with a young girl at a seaside resort, and has little to recommend it
beyond Wisdom's considerable talent. Wisdom also helped write and produce What's Good for
the Goose , a trashy little picture that seems to have no particular excuse beyond
exploiting the then newly-relaxed censorship on theater screens.
Timothy Bartlett (Norman Wisdom) is in a career and romance rut, working a dull
banking job and being ignored by his busy wife Margaret (Sally Bazely). When his superior takes
ill, Timothy replaces him at a seaside conference of snooty bankers, where he's more
or less hijacked by the wild and sexually provocative Nikki (Sally Geeson) and her best friend
Meg (Sarah Atkinson). Straying from the boorish conventioneers, he frequents the disco clubs
and finds that bedding Nikki is no problem. But sorting out his feelings afterwards isn't as
easy ... he thinks he's in love with this casual bird.
What's Good for the Goose threatens several times to become a serious film about human
relationships but opts instead for cheap jokes. Norman Wisdom mugs well enough to carry the show but
neither the script nor the direction generate much interest.
With the British film industry more or less falling apart, late 1960s mid-range domestic fare
began to fall in quality. This thrown-together show looks like a quickie package deal between
Tigon's Tony Tenser and actor Wisdom. The once-promising director Menahem Golan (Francis Coppola
was the Roger Corman acolyte who would really go places) later formed Cannon Films and made
a brief mark on the independent film scene. His contribution here is a limp attempt to ape
Richard Lester's comedy style. Fast-motion scenes crop up whenever the action slows down, which is
frequently. Bartlett's workaday existence
is played at the Carry On level, minus the jokes. Hot-to-trot teens Nikki and Meg are
painful male fantasies from an obsolete paisley-Mod world. They're given few character traits
beyond a desire to hop into bed with whoever strikes their fancy. Even though they're sleeping
under a pier, Meg and Nikki are always freshly scrubbed, decked out in new outfits and ready to
party. The plot mixes silly-ass comedy at the bankers convention (babbling speakers, exaggerated
snobbery), visual eyestrain at the nightclub (frantic zooms, phony young hipsters) and forced
sneak-to-the bedroom slapstick at Bartlett's hotel.
The three talented ladies on view deserved much better. Cute Sally Geeson has a sweet personality
and surely could have tackled a deeper character. Sarah Atkinson also hints at more potential.
All the parts are underwritten, especially Sally Bazely's wife, who ranges from frigidity to
affectionate without any rhyme or reason. Clearly aimed at what the grindhouses called 'undemanding
audiences,' Goose frequently steers toward possible character confrontations, only to return
to empty comedy.
Any interest then is pure cultural curiosity. Bartlett beds his new girl and takes her for a nude
swim, etc. His wife shows up for a tiresome third act in which he tries to get her to stop wearing
curlers to bed and dress mod, etc.. She never discovers his straying. Wisdom's
character pauses once or twice to reflect on his predicament, but neither he nor the scriptwriters
find anything to say about it.
Salvation's DVD of What's Good for the Goose is an acceptable but undistinguished transfer
with a clear audio track for the novelty title song ("Quack Quack!") and the not-bad music of the
featured band, The Pretty Things. The R-Rated release presents the film in "its 1:33 theatrical
ratio" as opposed to a correct 1:66. The cover features Wisdom sporting a goonish grin,
in front of a sexy painted nude model, the likes of which appears nowhere in the movie.
On a scale of Excellent, Good, Fair, and Poor,
What's Good for the Goose rates:
Video: Good --
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: September 11, 2004
DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson