The late Blake Edwards' career as a director was a very hit-and-miss affair. While he was in his prime in the '60s with such classics as The Party and Breakfast at Tiffany's (a film I have never been able to see the appeal of), his projects definitely started to skid on the Hollywood road once the mid '80s rolled around — as he cranked out cringe-worthy titles like the appropriately titled A Fine Mess and Blind Date (heh, remember that one?). Recently, the folks at the Warner Brothers have dug into their collection of discontinued releases to add to their Archive Collection, and the titles reviewed here include a hit and a miss — in my opinion, at least.
In 1981, Mr. Edwards took all of the frustrations he had amassed from working in the film industry and rolled them up into one farfetched farce. The result was something called S.O.B., which — contrary to what you think — is revealed to mean "Standard Operation Bullshit" in the film. The story here is an odd one: uproariously funny one minute, haphazardly despondent the next as we learn the fate of one Felix Farmer (Richard Mulligan). A hotshot Tinseltown producer with a string of hits, Felix succumbs into a slump when his latest venture — the most expensive film he has ever made — flops big time. Depressed by his failure and utterly rejected by his wife, actress Sally Miles (Julie Andrews), Felix decides its time to end it all.
Unfortunately for him, such a task is not accomplished very easily in Hollywood. Between the madcap antics of his loyal rebellious director Tim Culley (an aged-to-perfection William Holden, in the last role before his untimely death), anxiety-prone press agent Ben Coogan (Robert Webber, in a truly manic role), and calm physician-to-the-stars Dr. Irving Finegarten (Robert Preston, delivering one of the least over-the-top gay characters in early '80s cinema), Felix can't seal the deal to off himself. Instead, his pals host a party/orgy at his house, while the heavily-sedated filmmaker "rests" in the bedroom upstairs. Midway through the evening, though, Felix snaps and figures out how to make his multi-million dollar fiasco into the greatest hit ever: sex.
Taking the syrupy-sweet nature of the movie and twisting it into a sexual nightmare, Felix is determined to erase the wholesome nature of his family musical starlet of a wife by having her play the role as a nymphomaniac and appear in the buff. Meanwhile, studio executives and their subordinates (Robert Vaughn and Larry Hagman) try to find a way to both save the movie and their investment from a decidedly-rabid Felix. And rabid he is: Richard Mulligan proves what the mostly-cast-as-a-comic actor was truly capable of as he goes from being dead silent in the first act of the film, turns into a raving maniac the next (delivering a spine-tingling speech to his bosses on an empty set), and once again manages to dead silent for the remainder of the movie (for reasons I won't divulge), with his three amigos (Holden, Webber, and Preston) taking over.