• WHERE DOES IT HURT? is not a satire; it is an anti-doctor propaganda film, afflicted with a terminal case of overkill. The movie's small amount of unsophisticated humor is composed equally of cynicism, slapstick and bad taste. Peter Sellers manages to be thoroughly obnoxious as Albert T. Hopfnagel, the corrupt administrator of a metropolitan hospital. He presides over a staff of venal, incompetent doctors, whose interest in the welfare of their patients is exceeded only by their interest in women, golf, and the stock market. Sellers divides his time between overcharging his patients, falsifying medical reports, blackmailing his staff, making out with the nurses, and sneaking in and out of his "secret entrance"—a Pepsi machine in the middle of a hospital corridor!
Rick Lenz co-stars as an amiable and perfectly healthy clod who is admitted to the hospital and treated to two expensive and unnecessary operations. Jo Ann Pflug portrays a nurse with all the warmth and sensitivity of a boa constrictor. The acting is on a par with the script; to say the performers overplay their roles is putting it mildly. Any resemblance between this film and reality is in the mind of the scriptwriter. The medical profession is certainly not above reproach, but the base attitude and sick jokes of WHERE DOES IT HURT? do not qualify as legitimate criticism or satire. Rated "R".
• The first half of WHEN THE LEGENDS DIE is a lively chronicle of the adventures of a reservation Indian youth attempting to make a name for himself on the rodeo circuit. Then, for no discernible reason, the excitement abruptly stops. As the legends die, so does the plot; the ending is predictable and disappointing. The film does have some merits, notably the fine performances of Frederic Forrest as Tom Black Bull, and Richard Widmark as the aging rancher who teaches him to ride—and to cheat. WHEN THE LEGENDS DIE also achieves some success as a social document, detailing Tom's entry into white man's society and his ultimate rejection of it. The rodeo sequences which dot the first half of the movie are authentic and exciting, and contain some genuinely funny and moving moments. Effectively portrayed is Tom's gradual change of attitude toward his teacher, from hero-worship to contempt. The climactic scene occurs about half an hour before the ending. Then, instead of coming to a swift resolution, the story line trails off into an endless series of uninteresting events, and the film's efforts to be "earnest" and "meaningful" become obvious and labored. Even the characterization suffers. Near the end, Tom seems to retreat further inside himself, and his motives become less and less comprehensible. Too bad; without that long, drawn-out ending, WHEN THE LEGENDS DIE would have been a better-than-average movie. Rated "PG".
• YOU'LL LIKE MY MOTHER is a super-thriller, the best movie of its kind since WAIT UNTIL DARK. This time, rather than a blind girl, the heroine is a young widow, seven months pregnant. She takes a bus to Minnesota to meet her dead husband's mother, but instead a snowstorm leaves her trapped in a mansion populated by strange characters and a multitude of deep, dark family secrets. The script by Jo Heims (from the novel by Naomi Hintze) is both literate and believable—virtues doubly important because the plot depends heavily upon the characters' motivations and their relations with one another. Instead of portraying helpless victims being attacked by mindless evil, YOU'LL LIKE MY MOTHER displays the forces of good and evil engaged in purposeful conflict. Unlike so many others of its type, this movie makes sense. The snowy Minnesota setting provides some glimpses of gorgeous scenery, and heightens the sense of the mansion's isolation from the outside world. The film's lighting and direction are first-rate, though the music is too intrusive at times.
Patty Duke delivers an inspired performance as the frightened but resourceful young widow, Francesca. Rosemary Murphy convincingly portrays Mrs. Kinsolving, a greedy, amoral middle-aged crone who turns out to be hiding more than just the family skeletons.
Richard Thomas is perfectly cast as her son, a creepy, thoroughly revolting specimen of humanity without a single redeeming quality. (And he seemed like such a nice guy on THE WALTONS!) Sian Barbara Allen makes her movie debut in an effective, touching portrayal of a mentally retarded girl who turns out to be less simple-minded than anyone had thought. She and Patty Duke become friends, adding a much-needed touch of humanity to an unremitting tension that is often stretched to the breaking point. Rated "PG".
• Ken Russell, who produced and directed THE BOY FRIEND and THE DEVILS, has come up with another winner. His new movie, SAVAGE MESSIAH, is a lively biography of French impressionist painter and sculptor Henri Gaudier-Brzeska, whose prolific career was cut short by his death in World War I at the age of 23. The film covers the last five years of his life, during which he lived with Sophie Brzeska, a woman more than twice his age. In the movie, Henri is portrayed as dashing and carefree, though somewhat irresponsible. Sophie appears intelligent but rather bitter, admiring Henri's passionate sense of life but unwilling to share in it. Their curious relationship is set against the background of the oncoming war and Henri's emerging talent. The movie features surprisingly fine performances from a cast of complete unknowns, with Scott Antony as the impulsive Henri, and Dorothy Tutin as the more restrained Sophie. Most of the supporting cast portray Henri's avant-garde artistic friends, and a more freaky bunch would be hard to find. The party scene which takes place halfway through the movie is worth the price of admission by itself. The London and Paris locales are authentic, and several of Henri's actual paintings. and sculptures are displayed during the course of the movie. Although the film ends with Henri's death, it is not a downer by any means—an atmosphere of cheerful irreverence is maintained throughout. So well has Ken Russell avoided the common cliches of movie biographies that SAVAGE MESSIAH would be worthwhile even if it were pure fiction, rather than fact. It is not often that a tribute to an artist turns out to be a work of art itself. Rated "R".