darling
Adult drama set in “swinging 60s” London.
 
(b/w, English, French, & Italian). A new billboard advertisement in London of a pretty face – “‘My Story’ beginning today in Ideal Woman” – covers up a plea to stop world-hunger. A professional question mark, TV journalist Robert Gold (Dirk Bogarde), interviews a professional bosom, model Diana Scott (Julie Christie), who says she had an ordinary childhood & then was “square” at 20. Outside of the studio with Robert she says: “It should be so easy to be happy, shouldn’t it? Should be the easiest thing in the world…. I wonder why it isn’t.” Both are married: she to Tony Bridges, “the nicest boy,” but immature, unprepared for responsibilities; he to Estelle with two children. On a train together, they embrace, after Robert’s interview with Walter Southgate, an elderly man of letters; they call their respective spouses to give excuses for not coming right home, instead checking into a hotel room. Her first time having an affair, not something he’s done capriciously either.
 
Apprehensive initially about breaking up Robert’s family, Diana moves into a new flat with Robert; tensions develop along with her suspicious jealousies, yet she declines his offer of matrimony. Adult drama of “swinging 60s” directed by John Schlesinger from Frederic Raphael’s screenplay is more mature & responsible than advertised; it’s not over until the fat lady sings. Chosen as the Honeyglow Girl for the Glass Group, Diana with an eye to helping her career by participating in a charity event for eliminating malnutrition in the impoverished parts of the third world, spends an evening with Miles Brand (Laurence Harvey). Referring to the firm’s safe as well as to himself personally, Diana requests: “I wish you’d open up.” Miles replies: “I can’t do that.” She plays the title role in a forgettable film, Jacqueline. Perceptive but patient with her shenanigans, Robert recognizes Diana’s ambition: “You know as well as I do what you’re up to.”
 
Pregnant, she first asks Robert if this is what he wants; then she decides it would be “the ruination of my career,” arranging for “a miscarriage” over which she feels regret. Bored from a visit with her sister Felicity & brother-in-law Alec, impatient while Robert works at the typewriter, she goes off to Paris with Miles, saying she’s auditioning for another movie. There she gets involved in a “truth game” at a party, sort of like musical chairs without chairs, in which participants partially disrobe & impersonate other participants when in the spotlight by answering questions. Returning to London, Diana wanted to make sure nobody, especially Robert, got hurt. “I don’t take whores in taxis,” Robert, having lost his forbearance, says to Diana as they walk back to their flat: “Your idea of fidelity is not having more than one man in bed at the same time. You’re a whore, baby, that’s all. Just a whore.” She replies: “We’re not married. At least not to each other.”
 
Selected as the Happiness Girl for Germany, Diana goes to Italy with her photographer Malcolm (Roland Curram) – telling him she wants to be like a sister to him, “I could do without sex,” which is copasetic with him – for a photoshoot, advertising for chocolates, where she makes acquaintance with Cesare della Romita (Jose Luis De Vilallonga), an Italian prince & ancestor of a pope, & his handsome son Curzio. Might she accept a proposal to become Princess Diana? Back in England, Miles rebukes her insult: “My impotence, my darling, makes a pair with your virginity.” She snaps back: “Impotence in every way, except in bed.” If “darling” were an obscenity, this film would be R rated; a pair of goldfish are jabbed at with a pencil & eventually accidentally killed with ice cubes & alcohol poisoning.
 
***

Darling is available at UW’s Coe Library.

Patrick is a regular contributor to Laramie Movie Scope. See many more reviews of his at: http://www.lariat.org/AtTheMovies/old/others.html

 

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