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The Statue 1971 ***

The statue justifies the tag of the kind of ‘with it’ film that audiences found it preferable to be without, featuring David Niven as a public figure whose wife (Virna Lisi) creates a sculpture of him with enormous genitals. It transpires that the genitals were someone elses, sending Niven on a globe-trotting mission to find the well-hung model before the statue is unveiled. The pay-off for this convoluted set-up is seeing Niven being forced to attend a few not tremendously appetising orgies, something he does with the strained faux enthusiasm for a grandfather asked to attend his daughter’s dollie’s tea-party. In a side-story of zero consequence, Niven has also invented his own language which had captured the imagination of the world, but The Statue is more interested in seeing Niven drop his trousers in a public photo-booth. Written by Dennis Norden, it also features a psychedelic freak out, John Cleese, Tim Brooke Taylor, Graham Chapman, a theme song called Charlie, plus a repeated crash zoom into Robert Vaughn’s bare buttocks that has a certain novelty value. And a repeated joke about the then president with the punch-line ‘It didn’t hurt Nixon…’is perhaps a line that was of its time, as is this curious, awkward comedy.

 

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