Monday, April 11, 2005

Stanley Kauffmann

“The performances are better than the script because they are unspottily good…. And the Other Woman is played by Meryl Streep, who could bring new truth to Stella Dallas. (That is not a suggestion, please.) Here Streep is a smart Louisiana labor lawyer, raised in a political family, rich and funny and sexy. To compare this performance only with her work in The Deer Hunter and Manhattan is to see that a) she has a stunning talent; b) she has a vivid personality; and c) there is no need to suspend critical judgment of her acting just because it takes place on film and because her film personality is a part of her effect.

“Streep is especially lucky here to be photographed by Adam Holender, who did Midnight Cowboy, among others, and who lights her just a bit better than was done even in the two films cited above. Her beauty is not "easy" for the camera: it's there, but it has to be revealed. Holender succeeds….”

Stanley Kauffmann
New Republic, August 25 ?, 1979

Andrew Sarris

“Meryl Streep plays a Louisiana public interest lawyer with a voice shaded by magnolia blossoms, but with a mind like a steel trap. She was the forgotten woman in the male tearbath, The Deerhunter [sic], but opposite Alda's Tynan she reminds us that exquisite eye-contact can be established in a masculine-feminine flirtation…. [insert RE scene where Streep & Harris meet at dinner]

“I could go on and on about Streep and Harris, but I must give full credit to Alan Alda for writing good women's roles, and for acting opposite them in a supportive manner that enhanced their emotional entrechats….

“…. [I]f we are not talking about art for the ages, but about movies for the summer, rush off to see The Seduction of Joe Tynan, a sparkling entertainment about adult men and women. At the very least, both Meryl Streep and Barbara Harris deserve Oscar consideration.”

Andrew Sarris
Village Voice, August 20, 1979

David Ansen

“…. beautifully acted….

“If this old predicament seems fresh, it's largely because of the generous and complex parts Alda has written for the women--and because Harris and Streep respond with two of the most stunning performances of the year. Director Jerry Schatzberg brilliantly films a phone conversation between Tynan and his wife by focusing on Streep's silent reaction, and her eyes alone tell us more than most actresses could manage in an hour. Harris, free at last from having to play a zany, is devastating as the bright, bitter wife.

“In such colorful company--which includes Douglas's… senator and Rip Torn's… Kittner--Alda's performance may seem a shade bland…. Whatever, it's in keeping with the temperate nature of the film…. When was the last time you saw a Hollywood movie about three flesh-and-blood adults? And cared about them all?”

David Ansen
Newsweek, August 27, 1979

David Denby

“…. [Alda] writes solid roles for women… But there's a dullness at the heart of the movie….

“…. [T]his material might have been turned into a juicy, semi-scandalous melodrama about the erotic excitements of power or an entertaining study of public decency and private swinishness, but instead Alda uses the situation for displays of agonized virtue. All the major characters are so well-meaning!…. [H]is mistress is turned on by sex with a powerful man, but she's not a bitch or a home wrecker either, and she withdraws without making a scene when she understands that Tynan still loves his wife. In other words, the movie is paralyzed by too much respect for its characters--a highly unusual defect, I admit.

“…. [M]ainly [director Schatzberg] holds the camera in close for solemn character confrontations, heading straight down the center of the most obvious emotions. Fortunately, the acting is so good you never get bored. Barbara Harris is trying for a new Lee Grantish solidity and seriousness, but she still puts little curlicues in even the most earnest lines. Meryl Streep, on the other hand, has already surpassed Faye Dunaway as the archetypal blond shiksa, yet she is still so fresh for us that every smile or dip of the head feels like a revelation. It's nice to see her as a tough, wily, aggressive woman; indeed, the flashes of avidity breaking through her southern-lady's gaiety and charm in this role make one long for her to cast off niceness altogether. Schatzberg doesn't release everything she's got, but in one shot he gives her Garbo-like star treatment--a long, long close-up as she slowly extends her face toward Alda for their first adulterous kiss. Watching that sinuous swan neck, you hold your breath--the moment is like some romantic epiphany from a thirties classic.

“Such pleasure aside, the movie is an exercise in high-mindedness….”

David Denby
New York, September 3, 1979

Stephen Farber

“…. Aided by some tart writing, all of the performances are razor sharp: Barbara Harris conveys the increasingly steely skepticism of Tynan's wife, and Meryl Streep is wonderfully energetic and funny as a southern labor lawyer whose sexual and professional appetites are lustily intertwined. Best of all is Melvyn Douglas….

“Despite all this good work, the movie unravels in the second half…. The romantic triangle turns earnest and dreary: Alda doesn't seem to realize that Meryl Streep's Karen Traynor is far more compelling as a sexy, conniving minx than as a noble victim….

“…. Schatzberg makes the movie look like a TV show even when the writing and acting are more pointed than television permits….”

Stephen Farber
New West, date ?

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Stephen Schiff

"Her best performance until now [Sophie's Choice] was in The Seduction of Joe Tynan, in which she was sexy and droll, delivering naughty dialogue in a Southern accent that oozed insinuation."

Stephen Schiff, Boston Phoenix, January 23, 1983
(review of Sophie's Choice)