10 (1979 United States)

Around October 1979–when this flick first appeared in theatres all over the western world–a buzz had been created. Firstly, Bo Derek’s hair do became an unfortunate fashion trend. Secondly, Dudley Moore became a very unlikely sex symbol/sex dwarf. Thirdly, Ravel’s “Bolero” became the music to make love to. In other words, if you were over eighteen you just had to see this this motion picture or you were considered a square, baby. What was all the buzz about? The young lady who played the titular role, that’s what. But was she really a ten?

The embodiment of female perfection? Personally, I’d rate her more a seven. She’d have to gain at least another 15 pounds of weight, as she is too thin and unshapely here. People were more trim back then so its not surprising. Moving on, this was Blake Edwards’ best film by far. This is the only time that he managed to almost perfectly balance his strengths and keep some of his poorer directorial habits at bay. Edwards can stage a comedy “bit” like few others can. Just check out his masterful bit of editing with the cars flying by on the LA roads after Sam Taylor has spied George at the swingers house (he’s racing back to his house; she’s racing away from it. The camera is poised on a hill simply panning left to right and right to left). Or the simple scene where George tumbles down the hill climbing desperately to get to the phone. There are a number of others in “10” that get a good laugh while staying realistic and true to the film’s narrative. None of the comedy sequences feel out of place the way they often do in some of Mr Edwards’ films (see “Skin Deep” for some examples of what I mean).

George Webber (Dudley Moore), is a Hollywood composer having a mid-life crisis. He rashly decides to follow his dream girl (Bo Derek) to a Mexican resort where she’s on her honeymoon. Julie Andrews (quite a daring role for her) plays his girlfriend. Robert Webber is George’s sad gay friend in the business, Brian Dennehy his bartender in Mexico and Dee Wallace a potential one-night-stand. “10” is more of an amusing drama than a full-tilt comedy. Although there are pratfalls and one or two laugh-out-loud moments, there are a lot of slow sequences that are extended shots in one take, which means the actors actually had to act. This is different today where the actors only have to act for each 10-second (or less) cut. But having gushed thus far about its merits I can’t in all good conscience recommend this film anymore because it is so dated. Its also too long, stretching my patience to breaking point.

The cornerstone of the movie is the piano scene, which plays outside under the palms by the beach. Dudley Moore, an exceptional pianist in real life, plays “It’s Easy.” He plays for amusement, for himself. He plays with anger, for the frustration of unattainable lust. He plays to tease, to move the (delightful) holiday gold digger– and he plays to bond with, perhaps just to impress, the barman: the provider of his needs, his booze. It’s hard to think how a scene could ever be played that could better depict a mid-life crisis, the theme of this film. It has been said that neither Bo Derek nor Julie Andrews were great, or suitable in their roles, but I don’t think that matters. With such a strong performance as Dudley Moore gives, supporting roles can only ever be that. The scenes around his arrival at the resort are amusing enough. Don’t just think of this as the film where a middle aged man sees a bikini clad girl running in slow-mo across a beach. That’s the punchline – its a lot better than that. But if you hate the 1970s and smug, selfish, older men’s sexual hang ups, then I advise you to avoid 10.

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Comments

  1. Your take on the piano scene is thought-provoking, I’ll be sure to pay more attention the next time this film is on TV. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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