|Culture clash. Peter Sellers and Leigh Taylor-Young|
The last thirty minutes misfire repeatedly: inchoate scenes of Harold and his new girlfriend Nancy (Leigh Taylor-Young) making love in an automobile when the police show up and kick them out (the scene just crumbles before your eyes); the law-firm partner, an unfunny letch, propositioning Harold’s ex-fiancée; a middle-aged cross-dresser entering the dress shop where Nancy works and trying on a mini-skirt, and so on. Taylor-Young wears American Indian suede with fringe trim and beads and brings a Marilyn Monroe–like softness to her scenes; her erotic warmth is balanced by her sweetly vacuous line readings—it’s a charming performance.
The Jewish jokes grow stale and humorless, and the gimmicks get careless. Why are there flowers at the Jewish butcher’s funeral, and why is his casket so ornate? Why is the Lohengrin march played at Harold’s wedding? Elmer Bernstein may as well have not even bothered, either. He repeats the theme song with practically no variation for two hours. Peter Sellers droops with the dearth of good gags, Mrs. Fine (the scene chewer Jo Van Fleet) turns sour, and the butcher’s widow wails hysterically. Were the writers smoking too much dope?