Tag: Richard Gere

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

An Officer and a Gentleman (1982)

Classic 80s romance? Or is it, in fact, a searing kitchen-sink drama about class and depression? One of the great mis-remembered films of all time

Director: Taylor Hackford

Cast: Richard Gere (Zach Mayo), Debra Winger (Paula Pokrifki), Louis Gossett Jnr (Gunnery Sergeant Emil Foley), David Keith (Sid Worley), Lisa Blount (Lynette Pomeroy), Robert Loggia (Byron Mayo), Lisa Elbacher (Casey Seeger), Tony Plana (Emiliano Santos Della Serra), Harold Sylvester (Lionel Perryman), David Caruso (Topper Daniels)

An Officer and Gentleman is remembered as a sweep-you-off-your-feet romance, with power-ballads underplaying attractive Hollywood stars passionately proclaiming their love. It ain’t anything like that. This proto-Top Gun – a film it has strong similarities to in structure and design – is actually a kitchen-sink drama masquerading as a feelgood movie, with a final romantic image and “Up Where We Belong” leaving a deceptive memory behind. Where Top Gun is loud, brash and fundamentally reassuring and straight-forward, An Officer and a Gentleman is jagged, surprisingly difficult and unsettling. Put it this way: Tom Cruise doesn’t call anyone the c-bomb in Top Gun.

Zach Mayo (one of Richard Gere’s legendary performances, the memory of which guided much of the rest of his career far more than its reality) is a Navy-brat determined to be nothing like his alcoholic, whoring dad (Robert Loggia). He’s going to graduate from Naval Flight Candidate school and become “an officer and a gentleman”. Zach is a damaged soul, defensive, closed-off and selfish, a smarmy, cruel loner interested only in what he can get out of any relationship. The film is about whether Zach will learn to become a sympathetic, caring person, rather than a resentful douche.

There are three influences that might just change him. Firstly, fellow trainee Sid (David Keith), from a Naval officer family, attending because his deceased brother can’t. The second is training officer and uncompromising disciplinarian Sgt Emil Foley (Louis Gossett Jnr). And, finally, factory worker Paula (Debra Winger), one of the local women officer candidates are warned are intent on bagging a husband by fair or foul. Each will play a different role in making Zach a fully rounded person.

Hackford’s film is a tough, hardened one that takes a long hard look at mental health, guilt, suicide, parental resentment and a host of other complex issues. Any romantic moment is matched with one of pain, fury or characters doubled over with guilt and shame. It dives deep into its flawed hero and shows how someone can, almost unwittingly, be reconstructed into something warmer. It does all this in grimy, scruffy settings with characters making desperate choices motivated by poverty and lack of choices.

It opens with a shaggy-haired, scruffy Gere starring into a mirror in a dark motel room while his father is passed out in bed with two prostitutes. We are constantly reminded of Zach’s working-class background, his life growing up trailing behind his (largely indifferent) father after the suicide of his mother, left to fend for himself in the rough and tumble of the Philippine streets. At naval school, the same chippy resentment of how people perceive his roots persists – along with the lessons he has spent his whole life learning: that he should count on no-one but himself.

Zach doesn’t believe he’s worth loving. Facing abandonment issues (of different kinds) from both his parents, he doesn’t give a toss about anyone and expect them feel the same. He sets up a grift selling pre-polished buckles and boots to his fellow candidates, only helping them for a price. He completes exercises alone, cheats in aeronautical class, and gloats as he passes anyone on physical trials. When dating Paula, he frequently retreats into cold rudeness when conversation turns to anything emotional, and repeatedly claims he wants nothing more than a bit of fun. It all stems – as Paula realises – from a defensive hostility, pushing people away before they can leave him.

His lack of team-playing is identified early by Foley as his Achilles heel. Louis Gossett Jnr won an Oscar for his impressively nuanced work here. At first Foley seems an almost unbelievably horrible man, a bully dropping racist and homophobic slurs with casual ease, who makes it his mission to drive his candidates out of the programme (right down to bragging that he chisels a mark on his swivel stick whenever another one drops out).

However, Hackford and Gossett Jnr skilfully show this is, to a degree, a show: Foley is tough because the military is tough, and deep down he does care. Candidates slowly earn his respect (female candidate Seeger may fail to climb a wall, but goddamn he respects her guts) and he quietly goes to great lengths to support them. Foley’s act is intended to get them to excel – and he’ll be proud of them when they do, just as they will be grateful to him. The strength of Gossett Jnr’s performance mean his scenes dominate the narrative (at the cost of the romance), but this is to the film’s benefit.

Interestingly, that romance is often the least effective part of the film. Gere and Winger have fine chemistry (despite, allegedly, not getting on) but the narrative often takes sudden time jumps. From one scene to another they’ll go from together to split up, and the film never quite manages to show us naturally how this is changing Zach. Instead, it frequently stops to tell us this, with on-the-nose conversations. Winger is good, but the relationship feels forced – as if it a film couldn’t exist without a romance, when actually Paula could be removed altogether and it wouldn’t really change the film.

It’s forced perhaps because what really feels like it changes Zach is the friendship with Sid. Played very well by a sensitive David Keith, Sid is everything Zach is not. Confident, happy to help others, a natural leader and team player. Under the surface he isn’t – doubtful and insecure – but the friendship between them is the spark that changes Zach. Sid is, much like Goose in Top Gun, the sacrificial pal, but this sacrifice promotes real growth in Zach. The parallel romance between Sid and gold-digger Lynette (a fine Lisa Blount) is also an effective commentary on Zach and Paula, both characters being mirror images of the leads.

The film culminates in that romantic sweep-you-off-your-feet moment in the factory: but that feels like it belongs in a different film than the hard-boiled one we’ve been watching of a man confronting his fear of failure and lack of self-worth. Gere, by the way, is very good as Zach – his smirk a defensive screen for a host of psychological problems (few actors would have been willing to be as unlikeable as Gere is here). An Officer and a Gentleman is really a character study in working-class resentments, but somehow is mis-remembered as the quintessential 80s romance. It truly isn’t. Instead Hackford’s film – flawed as it is – is smarter and pricklier than that.

Chicago (2002)

Catherine Zeta-Jones struts her stuff in Rob Marshall’s fabulous Oscar winner Chicago

Director: Rob Marshall

Cast: Renée Zellweger (Roxie Hart), Catherine Zeta-Jones (Velma Kelly), Richard Gere (Billy Flynn), Queen Latifah (“Mama” Morton), John C. Reilly (Amos Hart), Christine Baranski (Mary Sunshine), Taye Diggs (The Bandleader), Colm Feore (Martin Harrison), Lucy Liu (Kitty Baxter), Dominic West (Fred Casely), Mya (Mona), Susan Misner (Liz), Denise Faye (Annie), Deidre Goodwin (June)

It’s become quite the fashion to knock Chicago. Heck I’ve done it myself. How did this mere musical win Best Picture? It’s not even as if the original production was much more than an entertainment. It’s another of those films diminished by whispers that it doesn’t deserve the title of Best Picture. But, look at the film with an unprejudiced eye, and you’ll see that this is the best stage-to-screen musical theatre adaptation since Cabaret. Chicago is such dynamic, high octane entertainment, you would have to a really cold heart not to enjoy it.

A heart as cold, perhaps, as most of the characters. Its set in a 1920s Chicago where it doesn’t matter what you are famous for, so long as you are famous. Who are the bigger stars? The people on stage of the infamous on death row? Roxie Hart (Renée Zellweger) is a wannabe who guns down her conman lover Fred Casely (Dominic West) when his promises of the stage career she’s dreaming of turns out to be all hot air. Roxie works out that she can turn her infamy into just plain fame – following the inspiration of vaudeville-star-turned-accused-murderer Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones), who is now more famous than ever. With amoral lawyer Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) in their corner, can they play all sides against the middle and find freedom and fame?

Chicago’s debt to Bob Fosse is in almost every single frame. Rob Marshall’s brilliant choreography is inspired by Fosse’s own work for the original production. It means the entire film drips with the passionate sexiness of Fosse’s best work. It’s also inspired by Fosse’s Cabaret in its use of the musical numbers. There all the musical numbers were kept within the nightclub, acting as a subtle commentary on the events of the film. Here they occur in Roxie’s imagination, staged in a shadowy empty theatre with a mysterious band leader (a charismatic Taye Diggs) introducing each song. It’s a brilliant concept, that allows them to be staged with the sort of exuberance and theatricality that would look plain odd in a ‘real’ setting.

And what musical numbers they are! These are toe-tappingly, finger-clickingly fun, that will make you want to jump up and join in. Marshall’s choreography and direction is not only faultless, but also covers a range of styles. From the sultry opening of All That Jazz performed by Catherine Zeta-Jones, we get burlesque (When You’re Good to Mama), sensual sexiness (Cell Block Tango), knock-about farce (We Both Reached for the Gun), classic 1930s Astaire and Rogers (Roxie) and surreal madness (Razzle Dazzle). The one thing they all have in common is the high-octane energy they are performed with (no wonder all those dancers are so slim!), with no one leaving anything in the dressing room.

Chicago is possibly one of the best edited musicals ever made. Marshall gets a superb balance between camera movements, cutting and the dance numbers. We can appreciate – and see – every step of the intricate choreography, with clear camera movements and angles. But the film is also edited practically on the beat. Cuts accentuate changes in the tempo and even marry up with the exact movements of the dancers. Not only that, the numbers frequently cut from reality to fantasy and back again – and this parallel montage is superbly done, with perfectly timed transitions. The cutting complements each number so well, it actually makes them more exciting and dynamic. It’s a masterclass in using the language of cinema to accentuate the impact of dancing.

But Marshall manages to make Chicago not just a collection of amazing dances and fabulous tunes. In our celebrity worship age, Chicago feels increasingly more relevant – you can imagine Roxie would love to be on reality TV and would never be off Twitter. It doesn’t matter that she’s got no real talent (in fact it makes the fact that all the musical numbers are fantasies even more witty), she’s just desperate to be known. Shooting her lover is the best thing that’s ever happened to her and she’ll do anything to stay in the newspapers, from a fake pregnancy to playing the timid ingenue.

Everyone in Chicago is just playing the game. Velma is just as desperate to cling to fame – and her growing desperation at losing the limelight to Roxie is almost touching. Mama Morton, the quietly corrupt prison warden, lives vicariously through her inmates (she even dyes her hair to match Roxie’s). The media lap up the details of every killing, turning the trials into huge soap operas. And at the heart you have Billy Flynn, as much a showman as he is a lawyer, playing every angle and knowing its all about telling a good story rather than truth or justice.

Chicago is played with absolute commitment. Renée Zellweger is excellent as the fiercely ambitious, amoral Roxie, her fragile softness perfect for the image Roxie likes to project, just as she is able to twist her face into selfish meanness. Zeta-Jones clearly hadn’t forgotten her years of musical theatre, demonstrating she is a superb singer and dancer, her vampish glamour perfect for Velma’s dark ambition. Richard Gere (in a role turned down by Travolta, as he ‘didn’t get’ the framing device) channels his natural charisma and good natured smirk into a role that could have been made for him. Reilly is surprisingly sweet and effective as Roxie’s put-upon husband and Latifah hugely entertaining as the knowingly manipulative Mama.

Chicago may be “just a musical” – but you’d be hard pressed to find a better entertainment. The song and dance numbers are superb and the film still manages to land some blows on celebrity culture. Hollywood has always loved musicals – can you imagine how the viewers of Broadway Melody would have responded if they had seen this? – and with Chicago we get something we’ve not seen since the golden days of Bob Fosse. There are few Oscar winners as straight forwardly entertaining as this.

First Knight (1995)

Casting choices only Hollywood producers could make #473: Richard Gere IS Lancelot du Lac

Director: Jerry Zucker

Cast: Sean Connery (King Arthur), Richard Gere (Lancelot), Julia Ormond (Guinevere), Ben Cross (Prince Malagant), John Gielgud (oswald), Liam Cunningham (Sir Agravaine), Christopher Villiers (Sir Kay), Valentine Pelka (Sir Patrise), Colin McCormack (Sir Mador), Alexis Denisof (Sir Gaheris), Ralph Ineson (Ralf), Stuart Bunce (Peter)

First Knight continues a proud tradition of Hollywood adaptations of British legends, with full-blown action and romance mixed with an anachronistic modern-ish vibe which clashes completely with the design of the rest of the film. Think anything from Ivanhoe to Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. At heart these films are ridiculous, but to be a success they need to embrace this and create something with a bit of heart. First Knight is almost wholly absurd from start to finish – but it’s still remarkably good fun. Even when you laugh at the bizarre sequences that pepper the film, it’s still somehow entertaining. It doesn’t take itself seriously – so I feel people who lambast it are missing the point.

Anyway, it retreads the story of King Arthur (Sean Connery) with a modern mix. Here Arthur is an old man, marrying Guinevere (Julia Ormond) to seal a truce between Camelot and Guinevere’s home of Lyonesse. While being escorted to Camelot, an attempt is made by the villainous Malagant (Ben Cross) to kidnap Guinevere, but she is saved by charismatic chancer and expert swordsman Lancelot (Richard Gere). Returning to Camelot, she marries Arthur while Lancelot finds himself inducted into the Knights of Camelot. But their adventure together has led to a deep romantic bond between Lancelot and Guinevere – one that threatens to tear apart the harmony of Camelot.

Something stupid or horrendously anachronistic happens in every scene of First Knight. Many of these moments are thanks to Richard Gere. Gere is at his most smirky here as Lancelot, an American Gigolo in King Arthur’s Court. There are few more modern actors than Gere – so seeing him in armour and cod-medieval garb jumps straight out as completely incongruous. Rather like Costner in Robin Hood, he makes no concessions to period whatsoever, and behaves more or less as he does in Pretty Woman. Every event in the film is met with his trademarked smirk-cum-grin and a twinkle in his eye. And while he clearly spent a lot of time on his sword work for this film, you literally never forget you are watching Julia Robert’s sugar daddy pretend to be a knight.

But then why should be really have made an effort to adjust his manner, accent or style for this film? After all this is a film where Lancelot takes part in a Total Wipeout competition – and on the basis of his performance in it is basically offered a spot at the round table. As a travelling entertainer, Lancelot woos the crowd with the sort of patter not out of place on a New York street corner. Later, the baddies hook up a boat with a pulley system that turns it into a super-fast speedboat. The baddies are all armed with pistol sized cross bows. It’s the sort of film where the lead villain rides into Camelot and shouts “Nobody move! Or Arthur DIES!”. Anyone watching this expecting a faithful exploration of Thomas Mallory seriously needs to change the channel.

So instead embrace the film for what it is. And enjoy the production values! The music score is swellingly impressive (now hugely familiar to any fans of Sky’s Ryder Cup coverage). The Camelot location looks brilliant. The costumes are wonderful – even if the knight’s armour (basically little more than a shield on the shoulder) looks horrendously inefficient. There is a very effective night-time battle excitingly filmed. The photography looks luscious. It’s shot with an old school, chocolate box, romance that makes everything look like a grand renaissance painting. The final battle between Malagrant and Lancelot is terrific.

I’ve also got to say that it offers an actually fairly interesting role to Sean Connery as Arthur. Considering that four years after this film he made Entrapment, a film in which he boffed Catherine Zeta-Jones, in a way it’s fairly daring for him to make a film that puts so much prominence on his age making him an unsuitable lover for Guinevere. His age is prominent in every scene (especially when counter poised with the modern vibrance of Gere). Half the time he’s with Guinevere he reminds her that he knew her as a child (yuck). He takes no part in any of the action – it’s Lancelot who (twice) rescue Guinevere, while Arthur commands from the rear. His relationship with Guinevere is almost devoid of sex and passion (they share only one remotely passionate snog). He even plays the poor cuckold, the man unable to excite his wife. Has Connery ever played such an unflattering part?


Julia Ormond – an actress who achieved a certain run of prominent roles in the 1990s – plays Guinevere. Despite the fact she seems to frequently find herself in distress, Ormond does manage to make Guinevere not feel like a damsel in distress. She’s proactive, she saves others, she’s defiant and (by and large) she knows what she wants and tries to get it. She also is an effective leader of her people. Ormond is also a fine, generous actress – she manages to convey a lot of chemistry with both Gere and Connery, two actors very different in style.

The film remains charged through with silliness. Ben Cross’ snarling villain has big speeches about how he wishes to escape from “the tyranny of Arthur’s Law”. The LAW is a major theme throughout the film – the characters bang on about it with an earnest insistence. Arthur falls back on it to make sense of his life. Lancelot struggles to understand and embrace the values it brings. Guinevere is determined to match law and duty together. Sure there are some silly grandstanding speeches about it – and the film runs with gleeful pride of Camelot as some sort of Socialist Utopia – but I suppose there’s a kernel of an idea at the centre here about justice and its importance in the world. It might mean we get a scene where Camelot is left totally undefended while everyone gathers for an open trial of Guinevere (guess what happens!), but at least it’s got an idea.

Of course that doesn’t get in the way of the silliness, the high blown acting, the silly events and the overblown dialogue. The heroes are all clean cut, and chiselled of jaw with perfect teeth, the villains all dressed in black, forever scowling and rugged of shave. It never for one minute feels remotely like it is happening in a truly medieval world. Richard Gere is, frankly, completely wrong as a medieval knight. But he’s strangely completely right for a film that is a chocolate box entertainment, a soufflé of a romance with swords and passion, that provides a few stirring moments and an interestingly different part for Connery. Gere is a perfect measure for the film – it’s a silly entertainment for those with an affection for Mills and Boon not Henry V. And there’s nothing wrong with that – it knows what it is, and knows what it wants to be taken as. Enjoy it. After all Camelot Lives!

Primal Fear (1996)

Richard Gere prepares an impossible defence for unbalanced Edward Norton. Twist ahoy!

Director: Gregory Hoblit

Cast: Richard Gere (Martin Vail), Laura Linney (Janet Venable), John Mahoney (John Shaughnessy), Alfre Woodard (Judge Shoat), Frances McDormand (Dr Molly Arrington), Edward Norton (Aaron Stampler), Terry O’Quinn (Bud Yancy), Andre Braugher (Tommy Goodman)

Courtroom dramas are the bread and butter of film drama. You get to deal with good vs evil, right vs wrong – and you even have two advocates on each side there duelling it out on camera for you. Primal Fear came at a time when John Grisham and his like were ruling the bestseller charts, and it’s a fine demonstration of that very late 80s to mid 90s genre: the all-star court case film.

After the murder of a beloved archbishop in Chicago, bloodied altar-boy Aaron Stampler (Edward Norton) is found near the scene. There seems no doubt that he’s guilty. Top city lawyer Martin Vail (Richard Gere) takes his case for the publicity of a big trial, but finds himself believing the boy to be innocent. As the trial begins though, Vail’s psychiatric investigation reveals Stampler has a split personality – his gentle main persona and a violent defensive personality, “Roy”, who admits to the crime.

This is an advanced, well-written trial thriller which, through a combination of some neat lines and some very good performers, manages to bring a lot of life and originality to what could have been a collection of stock characters. Instead, each character in the film feels real and their actions seem part of a coherent personality. The mechanics of the plot also move very smoothly, with a well-handled twist. And as a bonus it has something to say about human nature, about our need to believe in something and how easy it is to tell lies about ourselves and believe them from others.

The film is shot with a good eye for grimy real-life locations and muddy shade-of-grey morality. Hoblit’s direction is crisp and straightforward and he avoids getting any pyrotechnics in the way of the actors – here the performances are the special effects. It’s also a brilliant twist movie that doesn’t telegraph the fact it contains a twist until it suddenly pulls the rug out from under your feet. Hoblit doesn’t give us any advantages over the characters and has the restraint not to show his hand too early – instead he sucker punches us with a sudden downer ending. It’s a masterpiece of genre craft film-making.

Richard Gere at first glance is playing well within his range – a smirking hotshot focused on the win, willing to defend anyone and anything. However, what Gere does really well here is play his persona as an actual persona of the character. The “real” Martin Vail, it becomes clear, is actually almost naïve in his underlying faith in the justice system. He has a touching faith in people and the twist of the film works because we believe how much Vail unwittingly allows himself too be manipulated and conned. He’s the sort of true believer who can playfully mock his faith because his belief in it is absolute. It’s even more crushing, then, when that faith is so cruelly used and abused. The final shot of him alone on the street all but screams “My God, what have I done?”.

But though this film has some of Gere’s best work, this is Ed Norton’s movie. Incredibly, this was Norton’s first ever film, and he seizes the film absolutely by the scruff of the neck. Re-watching the film now, it’s less of a surprise when Aaron’s “Roy” personality bursts out – Norton is so well known now you are almost waiting for him to really let rip – but he nails the contrasts between the stammering, gentle Aaron and the ferocious Roy. You always know which one he is at any time – and even better than that, Norton drops subtle hints throughout to set up the film’s twist (which I won’t give away). His performance is largely a triumph of masterful control of acting tricks and a brilliant demonstration of range, as well as a swaggering display of confidence, rather than a subtle piece of character work, but it’s still an absolute knock out for all that – and totally believable.

Strong performances also come from Laura Linney, making an awful lot of the role of Gere’s courtroom nemesis and part-time lover. Andre Braugher is particularly good as an investigating officer. Alfre Woodward is stern and authoritative but fair minded and just as the judge. Frances McDormand makes what could have been a wet liberal doctor feel like a genuinely caring and dedicated intelligent professional. There isn’t a weak link in the cast, and every character beat feels well observed and natural. How many genre films have failed to manage that?

It all works extremely well and offers all the courtroom fireworks you could want with maximum efficiency. All the actors are working at the top of their game, and the direction keeps the action taut and intriguing. Here’s the thing: the plot makes little sense if you think about it, and Norton’s plan depends on so many variables he could never have known that it would success. But the film is made with such confidence and assurance that it never really matters. The twist still has a lot of impact today – and the film bravely offers no happy endings, only hammers home the system’s corruptness. A very good example (perhaps one of the best) of the courtroom genre.

Pretty Woman (1990)

Hard bitten businessman meets prostitute: of course romance blossoms. Happens all the time right?

Director: Garry Marshall

Cast: Richard Gere (Edward Lewis), Julia Roberts (Vivian Ward), Ralph Bellamy (James Morse), Jason Alexander (Phillip Stuckey), Héctor Elizondo (Barney Thompson), Laura San Giacomo (Kit De Luca)

In a parallel universe there exists a gritty prostitution drama Three Thousand. Al Pacino plays a cool, heartless besuited executive who picks up a prostitute, played by Diane Lane. The prostitute is bitter and cynical and addicted to cocaine. Pacino needs a female face and pays her top whack for a weekend’s work with one condition – no crack for a week. However, addiction and bad company are hard to shake off, and Lane’s prostitute succumbs to addiction once again and is turfed out on the street. Realising her life is in the toilet, she closes the movie by catching a bus to Disneyworld (her childhood dream to visit) – hoping that tomorrow “will be another day”.

But that’s a parallel universe, where writer J.F Lawton’s original screenplay Three Thousand emerged onto screens in line with his vision. In this one, Garry Marshall and Hollywood realised that the same story, with a heft of rejigging and a dollop of charm, could become a modern Cinderella story. So in this universe it became Pretty Woman, a charming romantic comedy where a besuited executive (Richard Gere), who has mislaid his soul but is still a charming hero, picks up a wholesome, sweet prostitute (Julia Roberts) – and they both change each other’s lives for the better.

I don’t think such a film would be a hit today. Can you imagine the online backlash? Can you imagine the bashing a film would get that presented prostitution largely as just another possible career choice for a girl in Hollywood? Flipping heck, we’re currently going through a backlash against Ryan Gosling’s character in La La Land, so goodness only knows what the Twitterati would make of Julia Robert’s Vivian Ward in this.

But despite everything, Pretty Woman gets away with it. Julia Roberts oozes so much charisma and joie de vive that you let slide the fact that she is not 1% convincing as a prostitute – or that despite living on the streets and being practiced at selling herself for sex, she remains wholesome and untouched by the nastiness around her. But then that’s par for the course for the entire film – it’s a bizarre fairytale that’s told with such swooping charm and playfulness, and with such an old-fashioned lightness of touch, that it makes you feel churlish to point out that it’s rooted in something profoundly troubling and unpleasant.

Not surprisingly given the character’s initial appearance as a prostitute, Vivian is a role that half of Hollywood turned down before Roberts said yes. But her star-making combination of girl-next-door charm and the perfect amount of sass makes her totally endearing.  She is brilliant. Equally Richard Gere gives a perfect low-key, Cary Grant style performance as the smirking executive. To be honest, he’s no closer to what a hard-bitten businessman would really be like than Roberts is to a real LA prostitute, but hell it doesn’t matter, you still come out of this movie wanting to give him a hug. As the guy sings at the end while our heroes embrace on the stairs, “This is Hollywood!”.

So despite the fact that it should really hit all your outrage buttons, and make you gag on its sentimentality, it’s funny, sweet and lovable enough that you just disengage your brain and go with it. The film does this because it taps brilliantly into the same class unease as we all feel – who hasn’t popped into a high class hotel or (most brilliantly of all) a high-class shop and felt (or been made to feel) “I don’t belong here…”. Despite its subject matter, it all feels endearingly old fashioned, like something from the 1930s. The old fashioned shooting style, the structure that owes a lot to fairy tales, the jaunty old school musical numbers, the restrained sense of sex – it’s all successfully mixed together to make us feel safe.

Away from the wonderful leads, Jason Alexander and Laura San Giacomo have the thankless tasks of showing us what big business sharks and Hollywood Boulevard prostitutes are probably really like, but handle them well. Hector Elizondo is marvellous as a cuddly hotel manager, part a sort of benevolent uncle to Vivian, part a smoothly charming and caring Henry Higgins (although of course, the idea that prostitutes are unknown at high class hotels is equally nonsense).

The film is old fashioned, demands you not think about it and has two perfectly cast, charismatic leads who rarely played these sort of parts better. It’s not remotely rooted in any sense of reality and don’t even begin to think about any sort of message this could send to anyone. Think about it – as millions and millions of people do – as a handsome prince sweeping a normal girl off her feet. Perfect cinematic comfort food.