Page 2 of 2
Lord Love a Duck has been called undefinable, baffling and audacious. But the pleasure of the film comes from the confusion and shock of witnessing it for the first time. It's an interesting puzzle: what is this film, what makes it such a rogue cultural satire? What makes it seem so from nowhere, so ahead of its time? The answer is that it's behind its time, that it's actually totally square. Lord Love a Duck, which makes fun of Teenage Beach movies and cashmere sweater wearing girls, was made in 1966. 1966! The early 60s Beach Blanket movies were already parodying themselves by 1965. Tashlin, another frequent point of comparison to Lord Love a Duck, had made the spending-class pop-satire Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (based on a play by Axelrod) in 1957, almost ten years before, and while the Tashlin still sizzles, the Axelrod feels very vintage, trapped in amber. Love a Duck is goofy in a dorky and bitter but not brave way—Jim Carrey over Jerry Lewis. And the neurotic sexuality is a little much. While it's certainly fun seeing Tuesday Weld growl like a cat while rolling around in a pile of colored cashmere sweaters (colors like “Pink Put On” not seen but articulated) while turning on her own dad, she exhibits just as much unbridled libido in a scene in Leo McCarey’s Rally Round the Flag Boys (1958) in which she’s writhing in a diner booth while being serenaded by a soldier. (Tuesday Weld wore sailor stripes, popped pills, and convulsed sexily better than any American actress in history.)
While, again and of course, Weld is great in the McCarey, it is otherwise an utterly charming misfire about Long Island commuter life, and seems as if it should have been directed by Tashlin. Luckily, there’s an actual Tashlin in the series, Bachelor Flat, from 1962, which is an awesome, underseen masterpiece. This may be the one exception in which the film, or the filmmaker, is able to offer as many unexpected, gorgeous thrills in the techniques and in complicated compositions as Weld does in any single scene she’s in, in any film.