Closing out our current shortlist, the last nominee from the 1973 Best Picture race is...
A Touch of Class
Melvin Frank & Jack Rose
George Segal, Glenda Jackson, Paul Sorvino, K Callan, Hildegard Neil
1 win, for Best Actress (Jackson)
In the classic screwball style of 1940s Hollywood, A Touch of Class follows the shamelessly unfaithful Steve Blackburn (Segal), an American living with his family in London. By chance, he meets divorced English designer Vicky Allessio (Jackson) and, after sharing a flirtatious cab ride, they arrange a date. A couple of rendezvous later, Steve takes Vicky to a hotel for some, ahem ... action. Apparently unperturbed by beginning an illicit affair, Vicky is more concerned that a hotel room is not the ideally romantic place for it. No sooner does she suggest a weekend getaway together than Steve is on the phone organising a trip to Spain. After making excuses to his wife (Neil) and her visiting parents, Steve and Vicky head to the airport, where they hit a small stumbling block. An annoying old friend of Steve's named Walter (Sorvino) is flying to the same vacation spot. Encountering various other hindrances on their romantic getaway, the two forbidden lovers do their best to keep their affair fun and frivolous while trying to avoid the big question - what happens when they get back home?
Despite the overtly 1970s hair and fashion, A Touch of Class is reminiscent of those fast-paced screwball comedies of decades gone by. It's not difficult to imagine, say, Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn as the two smitten lovebirds, trading witty barbs and throwing clothes at each other. There are plenty of hilarious misunderstandings and slapstick pratfalls to keep the audience's journey fun and amusing. There are even elements of British farce, not surprising given the London setting. Yet, the film avoids venturing too far into the absurd, managing to convey sincerity when necessary.
George Segal and Glenda Jackson both deliver the snappy dialogue with just the right amount of nonchalance. Jackson won her second Oscar (and a Golden Globe) for her intelligent performance, despite it not being traditional Oscar bait. Segal won a Golden Globe but received no love from the Academy for a portrayal that he does so well, that of the neurotic but likable everyman. Also endearing is Paul Sorvino as the bothersome but ultimately insightful friend.