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MGM Home Video (DVD), ASIN B00005LQ0I

This film stars Raggedy Andy. You may know him as the King of Spoof: writer/ director/producer/actor Gene Wilder. At the top of his game, who can be wilder than this cinematic cousin of whiz-kin Woody Allen? Well, maybe Billy Wilder, who confused both Jack Lemmon and Tony Curtis with babes in Some Like It Hot.

dvd: the woman in red While Wilder I captured Marilyn Monroe swimming in her dress over a grate in The Seven Year Itch, Wilder II goes one better. He redoes this scene, adding top-of-the-line underwear. Movie-goers will want to stay home for this one and ponder its lessons. Practice makes perfect, and Mama warned every child to get ready for the ambulance. Underwear choice makes a critical difference. Choice underwear, though, means cameras await: Will yours be white, red, or invisible?

Dallying and a stalker (Wilder II) extend the famous grate sequence to outrageous lengths here. The plot catapults into an underwear extravaganza. Although Monroe's delightful surrogate (Kelly Lebrock -- a Clairol girl without the bleach) turns in a complete circle over the grate, no baggy drawers encumber her. Evidence of cycle workouts do appear, however. Thus, this movie balloons with moral messages: Get those thighs in shape, or stay away from grates, and practice caution in flirtatious winds.

Where to put the underwear continues to precipitate conflict when a husband suddenly decides to cheat on his wife. The camera fixes on faces in obvious ridicule of smarmy romantic scenes; the man hops around before sloshing precariously into a loud waterbed. He (wilder and wilder) ponders what to do with his baby blue booty bracer. Emergencies expand as yet another hubby returns at the wrong time. Where should an amateur cheater put the underwear now? On the body would seem the practical choice -- but how do you manage that on the outside of a high-rise?

One shot shows this man whirling upside down, for at least three seconds, with his robe glued to his knees. Now, that's real cheating! This film plays peek-a-boo with its audience. What brings them to the theater -- a chance to see stars undress? Hands-on practice should render this process familiar. The difference, here, remains honest curiosity about human nature. If our eyes function as cameras, where do they automatically aim?

Undercover operations also expose the horsy set as stalkers on-hoof. Commercial ads become personal enticements. And, if you ever wondered why Wilder wears his hair in an absurd halo, you won't be disappointed to discover the alternative. As Valentino, he can't make it. When our eyes explode with the blue brilliance of Wilder (make that either one), we teeter on the edge of nervous laughter. For taste, give this film a D. For flat-out explorations of the comic impulse, you cannot do better!

Ultimately, The Woman in Red means "Men in Red Faces." All the boys spend all their energies on deception plays, dashing from bed to bed like steroid-crazed athletes. If girls ever feel like Raggedy Ann, who wonders why? Bring on the candy hearts!

Meg Curtis

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