Warren Beatty's atavistic remake of Here Comes Mr. Jordan — he's the star, the producer, the co-writer (with Elaine May), and the co-director (with Buck Henry) — is scrupulously clean, moderately liberal, irreverently reverent, and refreshingly airy. Such qualities were rampant in the Depression years whence this comedy-fantasy came, but have become increasingly scarce ever since. The only updating necessary was in making the specifics jibe with current California interests: industrial pollution, the dwindling porpoise population, health foods, and (now dated) the L.A. Rams' Super Bowl hopes. The direction is graced with delicate comic touches, and the supporting cast, especially Charles Grodin as the blandly traitorous villain, is quite strong. But the movie is a little soft at its center. Julie Christie, like a latter-day Katharine Hepburn or Jean Arthur, is patronizingly patted on the head for being a woman who takes an interest in politics, speaks her own mind, gets hopping mad, and yet still displays deep maternal instincts toward the boyishly callow leading man. Her underdeveloped romance with Beatty is supposed to be automatically fascinating simply because she and he were once an "item" in the Hollywood gossip columns. With Jack Warden, James Mason, Buck Henry, Dyan Cannon. (1978) — Duncan Shepherd
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