Illegally Yours Film Details
Overview: A college dropout called for jury duty tries to prove his childhood crush innocent.
Tagline: A girl on her way to being convicted. A smitten juror who’s really conflicted. A lawless affair that’s totally restricted.
Review: “Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make successful in show business.” Such are the words of legendary Hollywood producer, David Brown, taken from an excerpt in The Friedkin Connection, an autobiography from William Friedkin, one of the shining stars of the New Hollywood generation. Much has been made of the glory days of the 70s, and the films made at that time; more has been said on how Lucas and Spielberg single-handedly destroyed those glory years with their own prodigious and prototypical blockbuster films. After the 70s, many of the New Hollywood boys struggled in their careers. Friedkin was one such victim. Coppola’s career never recovered. Peckinpah and Ashby’s careers (and lives) ended with the death of New Hollywood. Yet no single career from this group took on the dramatic highs and lows akin to that of Peter Bogdanovich. After an impressive career as a historian and writer of the great Hollywood masters (Ford, Welles, Hawks, etc) Peter went on to direct his own films, seen through the eyes of the critics as homages to the great masters he so revered. After a string of big hits, Bogdanovich experienced a string of maligned works (Nickelodeon, At Long Last Love), which permanently damaged his career, to say nothing of his personal relationships at the time. Yet time has been kind to these films. A restored cut of both Nickelodeon and At Long Last Love have since been released, and the films have experience a kind of critical renaissance. The same would occur for his highly personal 80s film Mask. Despite all this newfound success, there are still two films of his post-Paper Moon films that have yet to receive such treatment: Illegally Yours and Texasville. For now, let us discuss Illegally Yours, a film which I had no hopes of enjoying going into it. Just about everyone, even the director himself, have spoken solely ill-words toward this film (Bogdanovich has been on record as saying that this is his worst film). So imagine my surprise when I began watching this film and found myself enjoying it. Rob Lowe is a revelation in this film. Though he would go on to show his great comedic chops in other films and television shows (most notably Parks and Recreation), it feels revelatory in this film. Make no mistake, this is a screwball comedy of the highest order. The movie begins in a kind of movie of the week way, with Rob Lowe narrating to the audience what the set-up for the film is, which might be the worst part of the film. On the other hand, it helps to set up the comically convoluted plot, so perhaps it works as best as it could. Not enough can be said of Bogdanovich’s composition, which is precise to the point of mathematics. Not a frame is wasted, and every shot is always an opportunity to set up the next bit of information. Only Jackie Chan’s editing is more precise, and that’s saying something. I can understand how some people might be turned off by the material. The screwball comedy has really been in favor since the 1940s (though I’ll still take the worst of Hollywood screwballs over what’s passed for comedy nowadays), and the film wears its charm on its sleeve. That being said, in the words of Lars Von Trier “it works only as much as you want it to work.” This is the attitude I’d recommend bringing to this film. Come in with an open mind, and you may find yourself enjoying it as much as I did. Bogdanovich has previously stated that test screenings proved the film to be a great success, yet Dino DeLaurentiis (the film’s producer) took it upon himself to recut the film in the version that is available today, which bombed hard at the box office. Peter blames this cut for ruining the film, a fate that befell the previously mentioned films. Yet time has proved those films to be enduring works, and this film is no exception. The fact that I enjoyed it so much only makes me wonder how much better the preview cut could have been. Either it’s just as good as this version (unlikely), or it may have been a comedic masterpiece. The chance for the latter only has me convinced that this movie deserves a reappraisal, and hopefully a director’s cut. Until then, I am satisfied that this movie exists at all, as it is a clearly underrated gem from Bogdanovich’s catalogue. Recommended for anyone who’s looking to unwind and watch an unpretentious comedic romp. Especially appropriate around winter time, given the films Christmas setting. At long last… I can say without a doubt I love this movie.
Duration: 102 min
Genre: Comedy, Crime
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