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There's a Girl in My Soup
The film is set in Swinging London, with Sellers top-billed as Robert Danvers, a culinary expert/TV personality who, as one character puts it, "treats women like [his] wine tasting – [he] rolls them around in [his] mouth and spits them out." Conceited and shallow beyond all reason, Danvers brazenly approaches any woman that strikes his fancy and, for the most part, easily has his way with her. He often takes his sex partners to his swingin' bachelor pad, a laughable electronic paradise right out of a 1970 issue of Playboy. Complete with a lime green, circular bed and mirrored ceiling, Sellers's bedroom looks like something acquired second-hand from Matt Helm.
But narcissist Danvers meets his match in free spirited Marion (Hawn), a 19-year-old American who had been living with her no-good drummer boyfriend, Jimmy (Nicky "Psychomania" Henson). To Danvers's great surprise he becomes quite taken with the combative but bubbly and smart Marion, who refuses to buy any of Danvers's cheap come-ons.
There's a Girl in My Soup was directed by Roy Boulting who, usually in collaboration with twin brother John, made some of the best British comedies of the late-1950s / early-1960s, including I'm All Right Jack (1959), Carlton Browne of the F.O. (1960), and Heaven's Above! (1963), all of which featured Sellers. After There's a Girl in My Soup, Boulting and Sellers collaborated on just one more film, the strange and unfunny Soft Beds, Hard Battles (1974), made at the nadir of both careers. There's a Girl in My Soup is somewhat better; the dialogue is often clever, but generally the film simply can't decide what it wants to be.
The picture is, alternately, a West End sex farce, a slapstick comedy, a travelogue, and a satire of Swinging London. The film opens with a long and unfunny sequence at a wedding, where Sellers finds time for a quickie with the bride while making like plans with one of the bride's guests. This entire opening is sophomoric and obvious; i.e., Danvers and the wedding guest get it on while a nearby TV, airing Danvers's cooking show, shows the host preparing a banana surprise. However, once Marion joins Danvers's long list of conquests, the film abruptly changes tone to become a much wittier and emotionally real sexual game of cat and mouse, with Marion pointedly questioning their respective roles.
But just as the film begins to pick up a little resonance, it changes yet again, this time to become a romantic travelogue of the French Riviera, with Marion and Danvers inexplicably throwing all caution to the wind and engaged in a full-blown, if unbelievable, movie-style romance, full of predictable routine slapstick.
After their first scenes together, Marion's motivations make little sense, right down to the film's nonsensical wrap, which would be infuriating if, by the final reel, anyone cared. The shame of all this is that Hawn, at that age the spitting image of daughter Kate Hudson, gives a mesmerizing, nuanced performance. The movie may be no good but it stands as a showcase of Hawn's talents before becoming typed in the persona she established in TV's "Laugh-In" and movies like Private Benjamin (1980). Sellers, by contrast, gives a measured, inexpressive performance, which fails badly in bringing any depth or sympathy to this empty bore. Clearly the intent of the filmmakers was to show the cracks and ultimate loneliness in Danvers's lady killing lifestyle, but Sellers is like a block of ice, complete with a Dr. Strangelove-esque frozen grin.
Video & Audio
Columbia offers two viewing options for There's a Girl in My Soup: full frame and 1.85:1 widescreen with an accommodation for 16:9 televisions. The film, remastered in high definition, looks good for its age, and except for some dirt during optical shots (dissolves, titles), the image is pretty immaculate if unspectacular. The Dolby Digital mono sound is acceptable. French and English subtitles are offered.
The DVD offers five trailers, including one for Hawn's Oscar-winning performance in The Cactus Flower, but none for There's a Girl in My Soup itself.
Peter Sellers and director Roy Boulting were grasping at straws when they made There's a Girl in My Soup. Goldie Hawn's excellent performance is pretty much wasted amid the picture's meandering script and forever-changing tone. The picture works when it tries to be something more than the standard sex comedy it generally is. There are flashes of reality in There's a Girl in My Soup, but not enough.
Stuart Galbraith IV is a Los Angeles and Kyoto-based film historian whose work includes The Emperor and the Wolf—The Lives and Films of Akira Kurosawa and Toshiro Mifune. He is presently writing a new book on Japanese cinema for Taschen.