Everyone, please: a moment of mourning now for the death of the serious studio women’s weepie. Now take another moment to mourn the dearth of leading roles for the animated, three-dimensionally high-strung likes of Marsha Mason (and though this goes without saying, those nattering, self-consciously drippy-neurotic Neil Simon scripts that made them possible). Finally, let us now weep for the passing of this genre’s signature poster style, with its cursive, feminine scrawl, diary and photo album–aping imagery, and portraits of empowering togetherness. So gone is this era that films of this ilk (see also The Turning Point, Six Weeks, Resurrection, Terms of Endearment) now seem as alien as ethnographic exploitation like Mondo Cane (maybe they deserve their own Flaherty seminar?).
So unafraid of ornate text is the poster for the never-released-on-DVD (despite three Oscar nods way back in 1981) Only When I Laugh, that a quick glance to its top half demonstrates that you don’t need imdb synopses to get…all…your….plot . . . tidbits: “Kristy McNichol’s a daughter who never had a childhood . . . Marsha Mason is a mother who never grew up. For 16 years, they’ve been practically strangers. And when they get together, they’re the most mismatched roommates since ‘The Goodbye Girl'” . . . “It’ll make you laugh . . . ’til you cry.” Whew, I’m bushed, both from the excess of narrative information and the amount of weird grammatical choices. Haven’t seen the film, but apparently rich supporting turns from James Coco (known here as an aging sadsack self-loathing gay actor; known in Muppets Take Manhattan as the upscale pet-shop customer who affectionately calls his dog “lumpy dum-dums”) and Joan Hackett (who would only live, sadly, for two more years) make it worthwhile….though judging from the poster, Marsha’s snazzy jacket crest would probably be worth the price of the rental.