Leonard Cohen: Bird on a Wire
Palmer's film is that rare concert doc that isn't for established fans only.
They say “The Marrying Man” is based on a true story, involving the relationship of shoe tycoon Harry Karl and actress Marie (The Body) McDonald, two of the more colorful characters on the L.A.-Vegas circuit, circa 1950. They were married to each other four times, it is said, even though she meanwhile carried on with mobster Bugsy Siegel. When Neil Simon heard the story he knew he had the makings of a comedy. What he didn't know is that the chemistry between his stars, Kim Basinger and Alec Baldwin, would make Karl and McDonald look like Ozzie and Harriet.
The saga of the filming of “The Marrying Man” is by now well known, having been chronicled in a steamy article in Premiere magazine, which was of course denied by the agents of the stars. The magazine reported that Baldwin and Basinger fell deeply and passionately into love and lust, and that the filming of many a scene was delayed while they lingered in their mobile homes. They were still holding hands when I saw them on Oscar night, so maybe there's truth here somewhere.
What cannot be denied is that they have chemistry on the screen. “The Marrying Man” is not a great comedy but it is a living, breathing one that overcomes any problems connected with its filming to deliver a genuinely randy and scandalous love story, about two people who cannot live without one another, but keep trying to, anyway. There's more juice in the story than I usually expect from Neil Simon; the characters don't just trade one-liners, but get under each other's skins.
Baldwin plays Charley Pearl, a sleek, young Hollywood millionaire who is engaged to the daughter (Elisabeth Shue) of a hot-headed studio chief (Robert Loggia). On the eve of his wedding, he goes to Vegas for a bachelor party, and in a sleazy gambling den outside of town he lays eyes, and soon everything else, on a sexy chanteuse named Vicki Anderson (Basinger). She describes herself as the property of Siegel (Armand Assante), and although Baldwin realizes it is certain death to flirt with the mobster's girl, he crawls in her bedroom window nevertheless, and is cornered in flagrante delicto by Bugsy and his boys.