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Saturday, May 1, 2021

The Ritz (1976)

After his brother in law (Jerry Stiller) puts out a contract hit on him, the owner (Jack Weston) of a garbage company in Cleveland hides out in the last place his brother in law would think of looking for him ..... a gay bathhouse in Manhattan. Based on the play by Terrence McNally and directed by Richard Lester (PETULIA). This loony farce was a hit on Broadway but its transition to film is rocky. While the premise is ripe with possibilities, the material just isn't strong enough to sustain itself to the end. It's a one joke idea that wears out its welcome fairly quickly. You can't fault the actors (with much of the Broadway cast recreating their roles), they huff and puff and spin like whirling dervishes to get a laugh but a grin is more likely to happen. Richard Lester can be a whiz at comedy as he proved with his Beatles films and the two MUSKETEERS movies but he can't seem to connect to the material here. But the acting is good with two performances that stand out: Rita Moreno recreating her stage role as an aspiring but untalented Latina actress and Treat Williams has a detective with an unfortunately high voice. Also in the cast: F. Murray Abraham, Kaye Ballard, Paul B. Price, Bessie Love and Dave King. 

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