Parody movies are hard to do. No one will ever be able to make parody movies like Mel Brooks. The man was the master at making parody movies because he knew how to tell a joke and keep them subtle and not obvious or in your face. One of Brooks’ greatest movies is High Anxiety because he perfectly and wonderfully parodied Alfred Hitchcock’s films. Several directors and writers since or maybe even before Brooks tried or have tried to make parody movies and failed miserably (Meet the Spartans anybody? That deserves to be thrown into the garbage to never see the light of day). One such director who tried was Peter Bogdanovich with his movie At Long Last Love.
I am not even really going to go into a full summary of the movie because it is long and weird. Actually, it’s exactly like a musical from the 1930s with sudden bursts of singing, silly dialogue, weird pairings, white sets and clothing, and a whole slew of other things. That then would make the plot of all the musicals and comedies from the 1930s long weird… come to think of it, as someone who has watched a ton of classic musicals from the 1930s my description of them being long and weird is fairly accurate.
Anyway, a somewhat plot of At Long Last Love: a singer named Kitty O’Kelly (Madeline Kahn) and a millionaire playboy Michael Pritchard (Burt Reynolds) literally crash into each other when his car hits a fire hydrant. He had been standing on the running board and was thrown off and he landed on Kitty. As with every classic musical and comedy it is love at first calamity between Kitty and Michael.
Somewhere else in town is a young woman named Brooke Carter (Cybil Shepherd) who does not care about anyone else but herself and does not have a whole lot of money yet she spends like she does. Brooke goes to the horse races and there she meets a poor Italian immigrant called Johnny Spanish. Johnny is smitten with her and he lies that he will be coming into money soon.
Michael goes to see Kitty perform at one of her shows. His seat is next to Brooke and Johnny. After the show Michael takes Brooke and Johnny backstage to meet Kitty. Turns out Brooke and Kitty knew each other from high school and they quickly get back to being friends as if the years had never passed. Michael takes them all out to his country house for the weekend. Somehow he winds up falling in love with Brooke and Brooke winds up falling in love with him. Kitty and Johnny pretend to fall in love to make the others jealous and it works.
The ending ends in a typical way that a classic comedy/musical would: Brooke comes into some money and Johnny wins some money somehow and Kitty and Michael get back together.
The cast was not terrible. Madeline Kahn is always a pleasure to see in movies. The woman was so outrageously talented. Out of the cast she was only one who could really sing since she was a trained opera singer. Burt Reynolds is not an actor I particularly care for but I enjoyed him in this. He was outrageously awkward in the scenes where he had to dance it was almost uncomfortable to watch! Cybil Shepherd was alright. She was absolutely gorgeous in her all white costumes and she was not a bad dancer. Eileen Brennan played Shepherd’s maid and she was hilarious. She reminded me of either Thelma Ritter or Helen Broderick with her snarky, tough attitude.
The songs were written by Cole Porter back in the 1930s. Some of them are ridiculously silly and really weird. I am not sure if they were embellished and added to but some of the lyrics were just too much. Yet, they were perfect in this parody because they sounded ridiculous.
At Long Last Love is not as bad as others make it out to be. I would not necessarily consider it one of the absolute worst movies ever made. Trust me on this, I OWN not only one but three of the worst movies to have ever been made- Xanadu, Two of a Kind, and From Justin to Kelly. At Long Last Love looks like Academy Award material compared to those three movies. As a classic film buff I got all the references such as the silly plot and dialogue and the all white sets and clothing. I really liked the all white sets and costumes because it reminded of the MGM films in the 1930s. Set designer Cedric Gibbons used to make his sets all white from the walls to tiniest pieces of decoration. The only issue I really have with At Long Last Love was that it was long and did not need to be and the fact that the actors had to actually sing on camera and not a played back recording. Musicals used to do that in the 1930s before the playback system was perfected. There was no need for Bogdanovich to do that for a movie made in 1975.
Despite being long and the live singing, At Long Last Love does not deserve the reputation it has. It is absolutely not one of the worst movies ever but it is not one of the best comedies and certainly not one of the best parodies. I commend Bogdanovich for trying I really do because the story did have its moments. At Long Last Love is worth seeing at least once especially for Madeline Kahn or if you love classic films.