They All Laughed 3.0 stars

Multiple-pairs romantic comedy by Peter Bogdanovich, whose concept of romance, as of comedy, tends to be hand-me-down and to not suit him very well. The action, set in Manhattan and eccentrically concentrating on the country-western scene there, matches a rather diverse group of private detectives against a rather undiverse group of male-fantasy, Playmate-type females -- excepting Audrey Hepburn (together again with her scintillating romantic partner from Sidney Sheldon's scintillating Bloodline: Ben Gazzara), but very definitely including the late Dorothy Stratten, who was linked romantically with Bogdanovich at the time of her death, and who is paired up here with a perfect Bogdanovich clone (John Ritter in specs). The physical comedy (mostly Ritter bumping into and tripping over things) is not very engaging, and the rapid-fire verbal comedy is no better: "Get off up here," the passenger instructs the gorgeous lady cab driver, who, fishing for a double-entendre, leers back at him, "I'd like to." The passenger, on getting out, will have no part of the sexual come-on but is glad to play along with the repartee: "I don't know what I like best about you: your freckles or your freckles." What largely compensates for the often irritating script, and the often irritating performances, is the intricate staging and cutting prompted by the lengthy "tailing" scenes and the sheer number of people present at any given moment. With that, Bogdanovich betrays a genuine passion for the art of moviemaking, even if not for life and love in the Big Apple. 1981.

Duncan Shepherd

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