HAMMERSMITH IS OUT directed by Peter Ustinov. Starring Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Beau Bridges. Distributed by Cinerama Releasing.
Hammersmith Is Out is an attempt by Mr Ustinov to transfer his own particular brand of acute satirical observation, from the TV chat show to the big screen. The idea in this film is to DO America, and I expect you’ll appreciate it too, providing you’re an Oxford don or similar breed of heavy intellectual, as most of the funnies and everything else are presented under a thick veil of over-intellectualised dialogue which baffles the audience into a kind of stunned silence of embarrassed laughter, at the sight, or rather sound, of their cult heroes Burton and Taylor, spouting a load of meaningless dialogue.
The story? Hammersmith is a kind of English gentleman imprisoned in a straight jacket in a mental hospital, run by a zany, but run-of-the-mill Ustinov-type middle-European psychiatrist. Hammersmith’s one goal in life seems to be to triumphantly beat the system by making more money than any of its rulers, like owners of oil wells, etc. So you see there are some novel ideas which just aren’t used. There are also some good performances too, like Beau Bridges’. He plays the warder who helps Hammersmith escape and then becomes his minion as they go around taking over big business. Elizabeth Taylor is adequate as their girl friend but her performance is rather too closely modelled on Karen Black’s in that far more successful American satire, Five Easy Pieces. As I said before there are some good jokes, targets include American food, stupidity, big business etc, but they have little visual impetus and any that there is, is completely and utterly dampened by the soul destroying turgid dialogue. In about 100 minutes there are about two really funny lines and the end product is boredom and yet more disenchantment for cinema goers.