Cannon is the public's surrogate, the one of the four who's leery of all this now behavior. How far, she seems to ask, is the 1960s going to go? She doesn't like pot smoking or Being Open. She is disgusted when [Natalie] Wood glowingly tells her how her fling with the tennis pro brought her closer to [Robert] Culp. "I am a very happy person most of the time," Cannon insists. Yet she spends much of the film being disgusted. When she tells the psychiatrist how her little boy asked her why she has a "titi" -- his term for "vagina" -- the doctor has to ask what a tit is. What else could it be? his patient's face reads. All right: "What name do you use with your children?" Cannon asks. "Vagina," says the doctor calmly, as if explaining that two plus two equals four. And Cannon is supremely disgusted.
Dyan Cannon is one of the important elements that makes the film. Natalie Wood is equally important and I think she is amazing in the film. It is among the strongest performances she ever gave. And I love the wide-eyed way she goes through the proceedings, Alice in Wonderland-like, almost as if she'd been drawn by Margaret Keane.
For me, the scene that really makes it early on is after Cannon and her husband Eliott Gould (Ted) learn from an excited Carol (Wood) that Bob (Culp) has had a one-night stand. Wood drops that bomb on both and then wants to hug. Alice and Ted head home. And Alice has the worst headache, feels she is going to vomit and asks Ted to get her a cup of water. Back in that time period, I do remember it, they really hated to give water because they did not charge for it. The idea of charging for water really had not taken hold. So they're trying to sell Ted everything and he ends up getting some food which only ticks Alice off more. (Remember, she's sick to her stomach.)
They get back and Ted's doing his exercises, running in place. Alice hollers for him to stop. He is too tense to sleep. He wants to have sex. She does not want to. She is turned off by the news of Bob's affair. Ted says he's going out and she begs him to stay. He will . . . for sex. She doesn't realize reality and says to him that he wouldn't want her to do it when she wasn't in the mood. Yes, he does. She tells him she'll have sex with him just to get him to stay. He goes to get her birth control and she's out. Which she finds hilarious but he sees as a hostile gesture.
It is one of my favorite films.
This is C.I.'s "Iraq snapshot" for Thursday: