The Loved One Movie Review

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Decades before Six Feet Under, The Loved One skewered the paradox of the funeral business in appearance-obsessed L.A. Wildly and unpredictably funny, The Loved One careens from scene to scene so quickly you may not be able to keep up with the jokes.

And what jokes they are! The very American Robert Morse stars as a British visitor to L.A., a wannabe poet who gets caught up in the machinations of a cemetary owner (Jonathan Winters) and his top mortician (Rod Steiger in the role of a lifetime). It's more cult than cemetary, and Morse soon becomes enchanted with one the cemetary's guide/beautician/chanteuse (a dippy Anajette Comer). The film haphazardly careens from subplot to subplot, eventually settling into a set piece about a kid obsessed with rockets, which Winters sees as the solution to the problem of running out of space for "loved ones" in the cemetary (aka corpses).

The film's tagline is "The motion picture with something to offend everyone!" and The Loved One tries its hardest to do so. It doesn't quite succeed -- the movie is rather tame today -- but it's certainly sarcastic and in deliciously poor taste, and terribly funny.

The black and white photography from Haskell Wexler is stark, reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove (as is the whole film -- with Winters in two roles), though some of the details get lost in the deep shadows. After an incredible wait, it's finally coming to DVD, featuring a retrospective documentary, and well worth picking up.

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The Loved One Rating

" Extraordinary "

Rating: NR, 1965

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