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A cynical writer-cartoonist has his chaotic relationship with a divorcee
In New York City, partially blind cartoonist and writer Peter Wilson is told by his ophthalmologist, Doctor Harris, that his good eye is going blind and will soon require an operation that has only a limited chance of success. Afterward, in the waiting room, Peter stumbles over another patient, divorcée Terry Kozlenko, and inadvertently grabs her breast. Realizing his eyes are dilated from medicine, she overlooks his behavior and makes friendly conversation, but Peter tells her he hates women, dogs and children. Despite his rudeness, she laughs heartily at a cynical joke he tells and later asks the doctor about the "terrible man." Harris explains that Peter creates "awful-looking" cartoons about women, children and dogs, and is going blind. Later that day, at a literary tea, Peter's agent, Howard Mann, introduces him and his new book, The War Between Men and Women , to the crowd. Instead of trying to charm the people into buying his book, Peter makes offensive wisecracks and goes off by himself, where he accidentally drops his eyeglasses into a martini pitcher. Unable to see to pluck them out, he drinks the contents of the pitcher to retrieve them and becomes drunk. Hearing her distinctive laugh, Peter realizes that Terry, who works for a publisher, is also in attendance. When she tries to discuss his book seriously with him, he accuses her of doing "the mating dance." Pointing out the sexless women he draws in his cartoons, she questions the normality of his sex drive, but also says that his proclaimed loathing of the opposite gender is only a pose, because his drawing on the cover of his book shows a man offering a woman a flower. Leaving the party early, Peter blindly and drunkenly staggers onto the Manhattan streets and, while trying to avoid the moving traffic, slams hard into a lamppost. Seeing his bloody nose, Terry escorts him to her nearby apartment, which is in chaos due to her snarling, pregnant pet dog, her six-year-old son David who has eaten her birth control pills and two older daughters, Caroline and Linda, who resent Peter's presence. Linda, an eleven-year-old who stutters, informs him of their devotion to their father Stephen, a photojournalist covering the Vietnam War. When the dog attacks Peter, he leaves in a bad mood, but later sends Terry a cartoon flower planted in a pot and convinces her to have dinner with him. Despite his fantasy that she will arrive dressed as a tempting siren and announce that she killed the dog and children, her appearance at his door is much less dramatic. Although they make love, Terry explains that, because of her family commitments, she cannot continue the relationship unless it is serious, and Peter shows her to the door. After their encounter, Peter draws his cartoon women in a sexier fashion, which alarms Howard, who complains that the formerly humorous cartoons now excite him. Longing for Terry, Peter asks her out, but their date is pre-empted by the dog giving birth. Several puppies later, Peter and Terry take a walk and, because he is admittedly frightened of marriage and children, he "proposes" they sleep together on a regular basis. Although her first response is to slap him, Terry later explains that she is not averse to the idea, but is concerned about explaining the relationship to the children. One day in the park, after enduring the girls' sulky suspicions about his character, Peter impulsively proposes to Terry in public and they are married at a beach house they rent for the summer. During the ceremony, Stephen arrives, dwarfing Peter with his larger-than-life personality and his family's established affection. Later during the summer Stephen returns to celebrate Linda's birthday. While Peter is trying to encourage David, who lives in constant fear, to relax and be adventurous, the boy falls into the water. Peter jumps in to save him, and although he fantasizes that he heroically saves the boy and wins the admiration of Terry, he awakens as Stephen is giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and learns he almost drowned. Around 4 a.m. the next morning, both Peter and Stephen are separately awakened by the sound of an intruder in the beach house and go down to investigate. They tackle the intruder and each other, and discover that the interloper is Caroline, who has just returned from a date. Laughing off the incident, the men soon bond, begin drinking heavily and admit their admiration for each other's work. Peter begins cartooning on the wall, and his drawings of an army of women come to life and attack the men. Working quickly, Peter creates reinforcements, a male army led by Moshe Dayan, the Israeli military leader skilled in diplomacy and combat. After a vigorous battle followed by the females surrendering, the men fall asleep on the living room floor. The next morning, Stephen receives instruction from his employer to leave that afternoon for overseas. His eye in pain, Peter accompanies Stephen to the city in order to see Harris. The doctor insists that Peter undergo an operation the next day before his sight is completely lost. Unaware that Terry knows about his illness and fearing that she will pity him, Peter refuses to tell her and asks Howard to cover for him by saying that he is obligated to work for a week in seclusion to finish his next book. When Terry realizes the men are lying, Howard breaks into tears and bluntly says that Peter might go blind. Terry then admits that she has always known about his worsening eyesight, which upsets Peter, who accuses her of marrying him out of pity. After the operation, while still hospitalized, Peter urges Terry to return to Stephen, but she informs him that Stephen was killed by a grenade thrown into the house of a woman he was interviewing. Upon his release from the hospital, Peter returns to his own apartment, where he cartoons using a thick crayon on a seven-foot easel. Unable to deal with her father's death, Linda comes to visit and, stammering, says all men are alike in that they always leave. Instead of sympathy, Peter taunts her for stuttering, likening it to a woodpecker banging on a tree. Provoked to yell out in anger, Linda realizes that she can talk without stuttering. Peter then shows Linda his new book, which he dedicated to her, and says it is inspired by Stephen, who, through his photos, tried to inform the world of the horrors of war. Showing her the seven-foot pages he has already drawn, Peter takes Linda through his book, which depicts how love can rebuild what war has destroyed. When his book is published, Peter is forced to attend another literary tea, but no longer antagonistic, he explains to the crowd how a little girl who stammered inspired his work. Although he can hear Terry laugh, he cannot see her, so, on a blank wall, he draws a man offering a flower to a woman, and when she comes to him, they leave together.
Cast & Crew
|MPAA Ratings:||PG||Premiere Info:||Los Angeles opening: 24 May 1972|
|Release Date:||1972||Production Date:||
A Shavelson-Arnold Production
|Color/B&W:||Color (Technicolor)||Distributions Co:||National General Pictures Corporation|
|Sound:||Mono||Production Co:||Cinema Center Films, Jalem Productions, Inc., Lienroc Productions, Four D Productions, Inc.|
|Duration(mins):||105 or 110||Country:||United States|
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This war doesn't know which way to go.
This film starts out as a comedy..as grouchy cartoonist(Jack Lemmon)falls in love with book publishing exec(Barbara Harris)and they both have to conten...