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What's Good for the Goose

What's Good for the Goose
1969 / Color / 1:37 flat full frame / 105 min. / Girl Trouble / Street Date August 17, 2004 / 19.99
Starring Norman Wisdom, Sally Geeson, Sarah Atkinson, Sally Bazely
Cinematography William Brayne
Art Direction Hayden Pearce
Film Editor Dennis Lanning
Original Music The Pretty Things
Written by Christopher Gilmore, Menahem Golan and Norman Wisdom
Produced by Tony Tenser
Directed by Menahem Golan

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 thought he 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:
Movie: Fair
Video: Good --
Sound: Good
Supplements: none
Packaging: Keep case
Reviewed: September 11, 2004

DVD Savant Text © Copyright 2007 Glenn Erickson

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