Saturday, July 9, 2011

THE ANNIVERSARY (Roy Ward Baker, 1968)

Three men are reduced to apologetic little boys by a snarling raving Cyclopes, a matriarch who poisons her children with venomous abuse. Roy Ward Baker's camp comedy is high on overwrought burlesque but light on humor, an obnoxious bore empty of message or meaning.

Bette Davis' whiplash persona dominates the film but soon becomes a tired tirade, her inherited name evoking the Objectivism of Ayn Rand's grand protagonist but here only producing a null personality. Mrs. Taggart is obnoxious and pretentious, castrating her sons and reducing their paramours to servants, seeking any inherent weakness to poke and prod. The verbal barrage is meant to be funny but soon becomes rather annoying, as the film focuses on the snap/crackle/pop of insults but fails to create any sympathetic character or plot design. The sons are weak and underdeveloped while the spouses are too possessive or nagging: who really cares what happens to anyone in this horror-show?

Baker fails to elevate the story beyond its stage appeal and it becomes visually exhausting as actors hit their marks on cue, reducing the film to a well rehearsed performance. This is one anniversary to never celebrate again.

Final Grade: (F)

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