S.O.B. (1981) from Johnny Web and Tuna

I was amused to find that many people at IMDb find this film rhetorical and dated. They are right, of course, but what they probably lack the historical context to realize is that it was already rhetorical and dated in 1981, when it was released.

Guys about half a generation older than I have always tended to be lavish in their praise for 1950's icons Paddy Cheyevsky and Blake Edwards, but I've always found them both too wordy, and incapable of writing natural dialogue. All of their characters deliver practiced orations rather than natural speech. Frankly, my patience for oratory is limited to the Shakespearian speeches of Marc Anthony, Henry V, and others.

Although his true legacy of cinematic greatness is as a director (The Days of Wine and Roses, Breakfast at Tiffany's), Blake Edwards had some writing successes early in his career (IMDb score in parentheses):

  1. (7.36) - Party, The (1968)
  2. (7.35) - Shot in the Dark, A (1964)
  3. (7.18) - Pink Panther, The (1963)
  4. (6.86) - Great Race, The (1965)
  5. (6.63) - My Sister Eileen (1955)
After that cultural revolution of the late 60's, however, his speechified, mannered dialogue seemed hopelessly out of touch, as if a vestige of another day. That entire style fell out of favor, replaced by the naturalistic, often improvised dialogue in the films of directors like Robert Altman. I kept going to Edwards' movies well through the 70's and early 80's, but always came out feeling that he was a man who simply lost pace with the times. I was especially disappointed by the Pink Panther sequels, because I liked the first two (the Pink Panther and A Shot in the Dark).


There is breast exposure from Julie Andrews, Rosanna Arquette in a minor role, and Marisa Berenson.

To his credit, Edwards did come charging back in 1979-1982 with 10, S.O.B, and Victor, Victoria. He was 60 at the time, but managed to get an Oscar nomination for his Victor/Victoria screenplay, as well as several other nominations for the film, which he also directed. Most of us old farts remember 10 very fondly as well, although maybe not because of the wit. S.O.B. is not an awful movie, but is the weakest of the those three films in Edwards' 1979-1982 renaissance.

S.O.B. probably should have been a lot better, because it is largely autobiographical. It's about a director who loses touch with his audience, and decides to make a blockbuster by taking his g-rated wholesome comedy script and his g-rated star and converting it all to an arty musical sex film, to give the audience what they really want. Well, that's the theory, anyway. Of course, if Edwards knew what audiences really wanted, he wouldn't have served up this film. You see, the plot pretty much mirrors what Edwards himself did by getting his wife, Julie Andrews, to flash her g-rated knockers in his little sex film named S.O.B.

Of course, the entire premise was wrong. The fact that Anthony Newley had actually tested this theory some years earlier with "Heironymus Merkin", and ended up with a mammoth box office bomb, seemed to escape the attention of both the fictional director and Edwards himself. The problem with Edwards's films in that post-Woodstock era wasn't a lack of sex, but rather a lack of reality. The audiences weren't clamoring for skin or films in sordid taste with big stars. They wanted rather to see real people saying things that people really say in situations that really occur, and to throw out all the artificiality in the old-style films. Edwards didn't grasp the entire cultural revolution, and continued to deliver stagy, intelligent, opinionated dialogue that sounded like prepared rhetoric, as hopelessly out of touch as a zealous pro-Czarist asking for an audience with Stalin.

S.O.B. does have some great moments when Robert Preston and Bill Holden are on screen, especially Preston as a Hollywood Dr. Feelgood. The twitchy Richard Mulligan is especially funny when he stops twitching - in between his death and his Viking funeral. Unfortunately, those guys aren't on screen enough. The rest of the cast consists of the usual guest stars on "Love, American Style": Larry Hagman, Stuart Margolin, Loretta Swit, Robert Vaughn, Larry Storch, Joe Penny, and Corbin Bernsen.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • widescreen

  • bare bones

All they needed was Charo, Paul Lynde, and Peter Marshall for an impromptu game of Hollywood Squares.

Actually, as much as it galls me to admit it, an unrecognizable Larry Storch was quite funny as the Maharishi who spoke at the funeral, and rattled off the names of the producer's films with an outrageous Indian accent.

You know, the film has many weaknesses, and yet as much as I bitch about it, I drag it out and watch it occasionally, so it must have some charm as well.


Julie Andrews shows her Bubbies (1981), more commonly known as S.O.B., is a Blake Edwards comedy. That alone should tell you that the dialogue will be a vocabulary lesson, and will outweigh the plot by a large margin.

A producer has made his first flop, and cost the studio a fortune. He attempts suicide several times in slow motion, but eventually figures out a way to save the film. He will re-cut it as a sex fantasy, and have his wife and all-American virgin (Julie Andrews) flash her tits.

The film has an excellent comedy cast, and some funny moments. It is supposed to be a satire on the film industry, but, for me, went on way too long and couldn't stay focused.

The Critics Vote

  • no reviews online.

  • The film was nominated for two Razzies for worst screenplay and worst director.

  • But Robert Preston won "best supporting actor" from the National Society of Film Critics

The People Vote ...

IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Based on this description, Tuna says "I can't give it more than a C, but it is a high water mark in celebrity nudity". Scoop agrees.

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