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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Movie Review: No Way To Treat A Lady (1968)

 No Way To Treat A Lady (1968)

4 out of 5 Stars

Legendary actor Ernest Borgnine died on Sunday, July 8, 2012 at the age of 95. I knew of him but did not remember much of his work. Being that Marty (1955) is one of the most famous roles he played, I went to look that up on You Tube. 

While I didn't find the movie in which he played that character, I did find the 1953 teleplay in which it was based on. If you have never seen it and have an hour to spare, I advise you to watch it. Steiger is sensational in one of his first non theater stage roles, and the writing is very good.

While I don't remember much of Borgnine's work, although I am fully aware of him, I do remember much of what Rod Steiger was in and have always been a big fan of his acting ability.
One of the movies I remember most from my childhood, and a movie that always stuck with me was No Way To Treat A Lady. I saw this in the mid 70s as a young boy and I never forgot it. I just revisited it this week on You Tube. After I finished watching Steiger in Marty, I went searching for  No Way To Treat A Lady,  and I found the complete movie on You Tube. I wanted to see how my childhood perceptions would stand up to my adult wisdom and years of experience,  so I watched the complete movie again.

Rod Steiger was a great actor and in my opinion he was at his best in this one.
Steiger plays Christopher Gill, A Broadway theater director who wants to be an actor,  so he plays different parts as he goes out and kills (strangles) his victims, middle aged lonely women who are mostly shut ins. He adopts various disguises to put his victims at ease before strangling them and painting a pair of lips on their foreheads with red lipstick. In spite of his cautiousness with the disguises to not be caught he phones a police detective and taunts him with clues and attempts to flaunt how much smarter he is than the police.
Gill strikes up an adversarial relationship, via telephone, with Detective Morris Brummel, who is investigating the murders.
George Segal plays detective Brummel. He also plays the guy that women like who can just never get it right with women. It is a role he played often and always played well. In this movie, he encounters a witness who he becomes romantically involved with. Lee Remick plays that woman, and in this movie Segal gets the girl, Remick. Lee Remick was simply a beautiful woman with that "it" personality that grabs your attention anytime she is on the screen.
Gill and Brummel both have mothers who stifle them, but they deal with it in different ways. Eileen Heckart plays Segals mother, the neurotic overbearing Jewish a tee. She was a fine actress and it shows here.
  Kate Palmer (Remick), manages to win over Brummel's mother (Heckert), but is later targeted herself by Gill, and that leads to the big finish scene.
Gill's mother was a great actress and he tries to live up to that to please her..and then destroy her.
It becomes a game of who is smarter than who. Gill can't deal with that someone is outsmarting him, and that brings him down. His cool calculating way is overcome by his psychotic and ill temper and he lets his guard down.
Segal and Steiger are the perfect foils for each other. Intense vs. cavalier. In my opinion that is what makes the movie work on the level it does.
No Way To Treat A Lady is a movie about a serial killer before it was in vogue to make them. Steiger doesn't play it over the top, he plays it just right but spot usual.
Comedy,  drama, suspense, well crafted characters, intelligent writing, this movie has it all. If you have never seen it I highly recommend it.  

Above I have posted an interview with Steiger on his career. If you watch and like it there are 3 more parts to it.

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Daily profile about a specific artist,their life, their work and their impact