September 3, 2020  (Web Review)

All Night Long

Kino Lorber, 87 min., R, Blu-ray: $24.95, May 26

Reviewer rating: 2.0/4

After being passed over for promotion, company executive George Dupler (Gene Hackman) signals his disappointment by throwing a chair through the (closed) window of his boss’s office. That impulsive act results in George being swiftly demoted to a position as a night manager at a drugstore in the boondocks. Egged on by his wife Helen (Diane Ladd) to grovel for his old job and confronted by the fact that his 18-year-old son Freddie (Dennis Quaid) is bonking a married relative of Helen’s—wacky, free-spirited Cheryl Gibbons (Barbra Streisand)—George sees himself as a “man in total disarray.” And things go even more sideways when George becomes romantically involved with Cheryl, whose husband is conveniently a nighttime firefighter, allowing for George and Cheryl to surreptitiously meet during the former’s nocturnal lunch hour. Directed by Jean-Claude Tramont, this 1981 screwball romantic comedy written by W.D. Richter has not aged well. In a new interview with Richter included as an extra—and ominously titled “All Night Wrong”—the bemused writer talks about how his original low-key character study dramedy was transformed into a bigtime Hollywood slapstick movie that “never had a sense of reality.” Lisa Eichhorn (Cutter’s Way) was initially cast as Cheryl, but after filming began, Hackman decided he wanted to play opposite a bigger star, and Streisand was brought on. With the switch to the larger-than-life Streisand, the comedy became broader, changing the once simply quirky employees and customers at the drugstore into pratfall-prone buffoons. Richter is surprised that he emerged from the debacle relatively unscathed, and thinks his luck might have been due to the fact that legendary critic Pauline Kael liked the film. Bowing on Blu-ray with a fine transfer, All Night Long benefits from a solid naturalistic performance by Hackman and a handful of funny lines but this is ultimately a swing and a miss. Optional. (R. Pitman)