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The April Fools

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The April Fools (1969)

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He has a wife. She has a husband. With so much in common they just have to fall in love.

Virtually the first third of The April Fools takes place at a trendy party held by sharkish executive Ted Gunther (Peter Lawford). It is here that Howard Brubaker (Jack Lemmon), one of Gunther's employees, makes the acquaintance of the boss' lovely young trophy wife Catherine (Catherine Deneuve). It happens that Brubaker is unhappily wed to Phyllis (Sally Kellerman, who gives an excellent performance in an essentially one-note role) and that Catherine is equally unhappy in her relationship with Gunther. The two lost souls run off together, planning to fly to Paris. There's approximately 25 minutes' worth of plot in The April Fools; much of the leftover time is eaten up by a protracted drunken-driving sequence involving suburban hubbies Lemmon, Jack Weston, Harvey Korman and Kenneth Mars, and by a lengthy episode featuring Charles Boyer and Myrna Loy as a robust, free-thinking elderly married couple. Some good dialogue, notably Lemmon's shaggy-dog story about goldfish and Chinese food, cannot hide the slightness of the piece. Still, a great many filmgoers were charmed by The April Fools.

The New York Times review said, "The April Fools, written by Hal Dresner and directed by Stuart Rosenberg, manipulates its stereotypes with elegance and style. ... The best things in the movie, however, are the extraordinarily good supporting performances by Peter Lawford (Miss Deneuve's husband), Jack Weston, Harvey Korman, Sally Kellerman, and by two stars who invented movie elegance almost 30 years ago, Charles Boyer and Myrna Loy.

Howard Brubaker, a successful Wall Street broker, lives in Darien, Connecticut, with his preoccupied suburban housewife, Phyllis, and a son who ignores him. While attending a cocktail party given by Ted Gunther, his boss, Howard meets Gunther's French-born wife, Catherine. Unaware of her true identity, he invites her out for a drink at a discotheque, and they meet amateur astrologer Grace Greenlaw. Later, at the Greenlaws' mansion, Howard tells Catherine that he has always felt like the fairy-tale prince who has been turned into a frog and must wait for the kiss of a princess to restore him. Catherine reveals that her marriage is miserable and that she is planning to return to Paris the next day. After delivering Catherine to her apartment, Howard wanders into Central Park and decides to quit his job and go to Paris. He confronts Gunther with the news that he is quitting, then returns to Catherine with a toy frog and confesses his love. Undeterred by the knowledge that she is Gunther's wife, he agrees to meet her at Kennedy Airport. As Catherine tries to convince her husband that she is actually leaving him, Howard takes a drunken train ride with his friend, lawyer Potter Shrader, who advises him on obtaining a divorce. His wife greets the news with apparent indifference, and Howard, finally realizing that his marriage is meaningless, races to the airport. Just before take-off, Howard leaps aboard the plane in time to take the place of the toy frog that Catherine has placed in the seat next to her.

Release Date: May 28, 1969

Distrib: National General Pictures

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