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ROBERT MORSE, ROD STEIGER & ANJANETTE COMER 'THE LOVED ONE'

Pamela Curran and Robert Morse in Tony Richardson's THE LOVED ONE Year: 1965 Rating: **1/2 Grade: C+

After American director Stanley Kubrick made DR. STRANGELOVE in England, British director Tony Richardson attempted his own offbeat dark comedy in Los Angeles... with Jonathan Winters replacing the Peter Sellers multi-role device as the owner of a plush cemetery catered to the rich, and a dodgy pet cemetery for just about anyone... 

Where offbeat Robert Morse ends up working after his Hollywood producer uncle (John Geilgud) hangs himself, bringing the audience into Whispering Glades Funeral Parlor that (with Haskell Wexler cinematography) grounds the most intriguing and creatively shot B&W sequences... 

Rod Steiger and Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE

But whenever the story ambles outside the box, the overly bizarre, uneven script gets out of hand, featuring Rod Steiger as a flamboyant and meandering mother's boy embalmer, vainly attempting a romance with Gothic, death-obsessed yet beautifully simplistic/airhead-ingenue Anjanette Comer... 

Who's also pursued by wannabe poet Morse, faking a British accent with his dialogue added post-production, making it literally sound like he's phoning in an already lackluster performance...

Liberace in THE LOVED ONE with Jonathan Winters

But THE LOVED ONE succeeds in random triumphs from side-characters who come and go: including Liberace, surprisingly effective as Whispering Glades' coffin salesman or the team of (both) Winters alongside child prodigy Paul Williams, attempting (with military chief Dana Andrews) to rocket bodies from the ground into space... 

An important last-minute plot that should have happened sooner... without so many eclectic distractions in a movie made when avant-garde simply meant anything goes... overall more a parked MAD MAD MAD MAD WORLD than the attempted STRANGELOVE-inspired social-commentary ensemble.

Hollywood secretary Asa Maynor in THE LOVED ONE
Whispering Glades Tour guide Tab Hunter in THE LOVED ONE
Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE with Liberace and Robert Morse
Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE with Robert Morse
Coffin salesman Liberace in THE LOVED ONE
Mad embalmer Rod Steiger in THE LOVED ONE
A smoking Edwin Reimers in THE LOVED ONE
Robert Morse and Milton Berle in THE LOVED ONE
Newspaperman Bernie Kopell in THE LOVED ONE
Twenty-something Paul Williams plays 10-years-old in THE LOVED ONE
Rod Steiger and Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE
Dana Andrews as an Air Force general in THE LOVED ONE with Jonathan Winters
Dana Andrews in THE LOVED ONE
Dana Andrews in THE LOVED ONE with Robert Morse and Jonathan Winters
Dana Andrews in THE LOVED ONE
Dana Andrews in THE LOVED ONE
Dana Andrews in THE LOVED ONE
Dana Andrews in THE LOVED ONE
Rod Steiger and Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE
Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE
Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE
Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE
Anjanette Comer in THE LOVED ONE
Hamlet-inspired Robert Morse in THE LOVED ONE
Robert Morse in THE LOVED ONE with Rod Steiger
Dana Andrews with Chick Hearn in THE LOVED ONE
Robert Morse in THE LOVED ONE with Paul Williams
Cameo by James Coburn in THE LOVED ONE
Hollywood-working John Geilgud in THE LOVED ONE with Robert Easton
Hollywood producer Roddy McDowall in THE LOVED ONE
John Geilgud in THE LOVED ONE with Roddy McDowall
Robert Morse with Whispering Glades hostess Roxanne Arlen in THE LOVED ONE


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