The Out-Of-Towners (1970)

Movie

Husband (Jack Lemmon) and wife (Sandy Dennis) enter a business class nightmare. He responds to bad karma by blaming the innocent. Her slippers are broken beyond repair, yet she’s sure the real magic is in remembering There’s No Place Like Home. They behave more as brother and sister raised on screwball comedy than as husband and wife.

Neil Simon proves to aspiring screenwriters that a great script can indeed be assembled like a string of pearls. Cosmic irony is born out of a continuous compounding of situational irony. The trick is finding enough pearls.

The camera swoops about and keeps its distance, giving us a seat alongside whichever of the gods has chosen these two mortals as playthings.

There’s a great deal of airline humor a decade before Airplane! made it into a genre and three decades before the Transportation Security Administration made it into a way of life.

Each of Mr. and Mrs. Kaufman’s misfortunes has its basis in the real dangers and nuisances of life in the Hobbesian New York of the late 60s. Familiar Manhattan locations cement the link between this bourgeois horror story and the one told by your cousin-in-law last Thanksgiving. When Organization Man lacks food and shelter, he loses his patience. But when he lacks status and comfort, he loses his soul.

 

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