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Last Married Couple in America, The
I've had a confident soft spot in my heart for George Segal projects, and perhaps have ever since he chewed on the scenery in Stick), the 1985 film directed by Burt Reynolds, based off an Elmore Leonard film. And following Segal's recent death at the age of 87, I feel moderately compelled to seek out the stuff I haven't seen, which brings us to The Last Married Couple in America.
John Herman Shaner (Goin' South) wrote the screenplay that Gilbert Cates directed, long before he was a longtime director of the Academy Awards Ceremonies. Jeff (Segal) is married to Mari (Natalie Wood, Rebel Without A Cause), living happily while their friends drift in and out of relationships and marriages of their own, and when temptations come up, they go through separate dilemmas and explorations of their own.
The first thing I was surprised by was how many familiar faces I saw in the first few minutes. It's 1980, so adults played touch football back in the day, so Three's Company star Priscilla Barnes, M*A*S*H* TV guest stars Allan Arbus and Oliver Clark also show up. Richard Benjamin (Little Nikita) plays Jeff's friend Marv, and Valerie Harper (Rhoda) is Barbara, one of the temptations in question. Heck, Dom DeLuise (The Cannonball Run) shows up! This is a lot of talent! And they're kind of doing a sort of Blake Edwards thing, where the protagonists have a lot going on around them, some of it involving orgasms, and they try to process it or themselves how they can.
The film tends to lack the charming hilarity of Edwards' films, and tries to split your attention between what Jeff and Mari are doing. And as the titled ‘Last Married Couple,' they are okay, but aren't really memorable, or enough to put the viewer in a place of investment. Then when things take their turns as things tend to do, it dilutes the empathy that one would have for them. Things do tend to get a little weird when DeLuise appears (as they tend to do), but at that point perhaps you're waiting for the inevitable to happen and guess what? It does!
Segal is fine, Wood is fine, but Segal and Wood together? Well, they don't do anything, and that's the fatal flaw of the film. As a snapshot in culture, The Last Married Couple in America is nice to have I guess, but there's a reason why people have abandoned those times. It is nice to check off a George Segal film at least.The Blu-ray:
The 1.85:1 high-definition presentation of The Last Married Couple in America is not bad. Colors are natural as are flesh tones, and wider shots lack notable detail but are clear and have film grain present in most of the film. Black levels tend to fluctuate at times but generally hold up and are an average contrast during the film. Given the nature of the film I wasn't expecting to get my doors blown off.The Sound:
DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 lossless and, well, it's there! Maureen McGovern's song in the opening credits sounds clear, crowd noise in house parties or in the outdoors is natural, and dialogue is consistent and well-balanced in the front of the theater. Given the source material, it's fine.The Extras:
Kino includes a trailer (2:39) for this and other Kino releases, and there is a commentary with historian Lee Gambin, where he provides biographical information on the cast and crew, but spends a surprising amount of time getting into the film's place at the era, including sexual and social behavior and evolution, and some of the social trends of the time that are no longer. It's an active, informative track, and if you're a fan of the film you'll like this.Final Thoughts:
The Last Married Couple in America is not the best work for George Segal or Natalie Wood, and having both of them here at the same time is nice but hardly memorable. Technically the disc looks and sounds capable, and the commentary is nice but in a phrase, hardly memorable. If you like Segal or Wood then by all means give it a spin, but it's not as funny as you would think, and you can find them do better things elsewhere too.