“The underwear has landed.”
I tend to remember the best books and films I’ve enjoyed while the truly bad ones are dismissed to oblivion. However, in the case of Not Now, Darling this awful film may haunt me for years to come. The comedy (and I shudder to even mention this term) revolves around a day at the exclusive London furrier Bodley, Bodley and Crouch. The story is extremely simple: Gilbert Bodley (Leslie Phillips) plans an afternoon rendezvous with married Janie McMichael (Julie Ege). In order to gain her compliance, Gilbert has arranged for Janie and her husband Harry (Derren Nesbitt) to arrive at the Furrier and purchase a mink coat for 500 pounds. In reality the cost of the coat is 5,000 pounds, but Bodley is pricing the coat lower in order to secure an afternoon with Janie. He reasons that he can’t just give Janie the coat without raising suspicions from her husband, so he’ll under price the coat instead. It’s “payment for services rendered.”
This slim problematic premise of the under priced coat is supposed to support the entire film. What takes place is a comedy (that word again) of errors, as wives, mistresses and cuckolded husbands collide through the revolving door at Bodley, Bodley and Crouch.
Most of the action takes place in the showroom of the furrier. It’s just one huge room that resembles a set for a play. In fact, many of the overly exaggerated gestures made by the various characters are directly aimed at the front of the set rather than to each other, and there are times at which we are supposed to swallow the idea that these gestures (hiding items of clothing behind the back and tossing them out of the window, for example), can’t be observed by another character who is standing just a few feet away. The sense that the entire staging, directions, set etc are more suitable for a stage play is correct. Not Now, Darling is based on a play, but there are precious few adjustments made in order to transfer this to the big screen.
Joan Sims plays the harried receptionist, and her clothing seems to be modeled on the costume of a French maid. While this underscored the idea that I was watching some sort of traditional bedroom farce, the script is horribly un-funny. This comedy (cringe) is tired, old and repetitive. Once there’s a joke, expect it to be repeated ad nauseam (for example, Barbara Windsor’s character has some birds in a cage, and she’s constantly referring to them as her tits). Alright, it’s an old joke, and throw it in there once if you must, but throughout the entire film????? The talents of Leslie Phillips are lost in this quagmire that refuses to end. Former Penthouse model Julie Ege provides a few topless shots, and while this adds a few risque moments, nothing can salvage this abysmal film. Watching Not Now, Darling reminds me that not everything has changed for the worst; at least now wearing and selling fur is rarer and relegated to crass, selfish materialism. Directed by Ray Cooney and David Croft.