Reminiscent of the great screwball comedies of the ’30s, A Touch of Class received considerable acclaim during its initial release in 1973–including an Oscar nomination for Best Picture–hasn’t aged particularly well. The performances of Glenda Jackson (who won her second Oscar for her work) and George Segal (who won a Golden Globe), are still highly entertaining, but in 2019, some of the material, perhaps even the premise, seems outdated.
Segal is Steve Blackburn, an American businessman living in London. He’s married with children, but frequently indulges in extramarital affairs. In the film’s opening, he keeps crossing paths with Vickie Alessio (Jackson) a London based divorcée with two children and a job in the fashion industry. When they finally meet, mutual attraction is obvious. Vickie makes it immediately clear she’s not looking for an emotional attachment. Nonetheless, she also wants something more romantic than a quick roll in the sack at the hotel Steve chooses. Eventually the pair agree on a week-long trip to the seaside in Málaga, Spain.
Predictably, their trip turns into a comedy of errors, as Vickie and Steve’s efforts at romance are foiled by various obstacles. Steve’s back goes out on him the first night there. To make matters worse, Steve’s movie producer friend Walter (Paul Sorvino, Cruising) just happens to be staying at the same hotel and has a knack for showing up at inopportune times. Even more hijinks are mined from the just how ill-matched these two people really are. Steve is an experienced charmer and a smooth operator. An experienced cheater, he’s had numerous flings and gone back to his wife, conscience intact. Vickie is more cautious, understandably, having been burned by her ex-husband.
Co-written and directed by Melvin Frank (The Prisoner of Second Avenue) A Touch of Class seems to be stuck in that transitional moment when male chauvinism was still the norm, but women were embracing the idea of women’s liberation. Segal’s character doesn’t treat Vickie with any respect. We are simply to except that he’s a stressed-out guy needing to satisfy his sex drive. At the same time, Jackson’s Vickie is wonderfully enlightened because she has an affair with a married man to avoid emotional attachment. While this may have been edgy stuff in 1973, watching A Touch of Class now seems pointless. SPOILER ALERT! There’s no happy ending for Steve and Vickie. That’s hardly a surprise, since Steve spent most of the movie making it clear he was never going to leave his wife and children. Nonetheless, viewers just spent an hour and half getting to know Vickie, his mistress. Personally, I think Vickie is lucky one here. Steve went back to his apparently clueless wife. The guy is a total louse. She won the lottery by not having to deal with him anymore! A Touch of Class offers some Witty banter, moments of humor and is lifted by the strong performances from Glenda Jackson (Women in Love) and George Segal (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf) but time has diminished its effectiveness.
Warner Archive commissioned a new scan of an interpositive at 2K, followed by a color correction process and a meticulous cleaning. The result is stunning. The image is film-like and beautifully detailed throughout. The shooting locations in London and Spain are showcased beautifully. The films rather soft palette is captured effectively, and the use of light feels freeing for the main characters. The image is clean, free of banding or any other distortion. There are no scratches or specks present.
The film’s original mono track has been taken from the magnetic master and cleaned of any age related issues. The ambient sounds around London and Spain are remarkably clear. The Oscar nominated title song by Sammy Cahn and George Barrie comes through with impressive fullness and clarity. Dialogue is clean, clear and concise throughout.
English SDH subtitles are included.
The following extras are available:
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 2:33)
A Touch of Class (1973)
Movie title: A Touch of Class
Director(s): Melvin Frank
Actor(s): George Segal , Glenda Jackson, Hildegard Neil , Paul Sorvino , Cec Linder , Nadim Sawalha
Genre: Comedy, Romance