Written for Liz by Irish writer Edna O’Brian, who would later attack the final cut, X, Y and Zee probably wasn’t meant to be so lopsidedly garish. An exploration of a modern marriage collapsing into 70s amorality, it turned into a bitchfest as valentine to the legion of Liz fans. In a performance that to an observant eye looks to be a tribute to Jean Simmon’s Hattie in The Grass is Greener, the queen of trash becomes the queen of mock: No one will forget her on her knees panting ala soft porn thru a bathroom keyhole. The movie begins with Liz and husband Michael Caine metaphorically playing ping pong and we sense she won’t be dropping the ball anytime soon. Almodóvarian about a decade before Pedro’s splashy arrival, with hair teased as a postiche from a Roman spa goddess and the famous knockers bouncing as if flexing muscle, she’s charged for martial warfare. Jabbing her finger into Caine’s flab and frequently slapping his back, Liz hurls invective meant to maim and that actors would kill for: About Caine’s mistress Susannah York and other birds, she says, “Soon you’ll have to listen to her little cantatas...alone, not understood, good...so verddy, verddy good...You don’t know who loves you. There’s her, and all those adoring little apprentices down in your office, with their hair, their tiny tits and their drooling.” (Had director Brian G. Hutton paid more attention, he’d have reversed the last nine words: “with their drooling, their hair and their tiny tits.”) Liz receives in kind: stopping by York’s dress shop to brazenly snoop, ordering up a blouse on credit, York, measuring the chest with a tape that seems insufficient for the expanse, fires off, “You don’t want everyone to know you’re a 12, do you?” Liz’s shining moment comes as she’s packing Caine’s suitcase to throw him out while they’re fighting over a car accident she was involved in and he threatens her. Once again jabbing her stubby finger into him, she taunts, “You wouldn’t want to hurt me again and find out you were wrong. You’d have to go to your headshrinker at 15 pounds a go. (Mocking his voice with precision) ‘Why did I do it? Why did I do it?’” Exasperated and as shrill as she is, he slaps her and out comes one of those revealing laughs. Verddy close to home? In champagne and pink colored mod wigs and wrapped in a mint green-orange boa, Margaret Leighton is booze-slurry funny and dares to show her boobs in a silk see-thru gown festooned with gold leaves. (For the first time in any of her movies we long to see more.) X, Y and Zee would be much better if, in a refurbishment, someone would magically lower the decibels of Liz’s fishwishery and throw out that god awful Stanley Myers faux rock that’s too loud and sub it with something more tolerable. But leave in Three Dog Night’s “Going in Circles.” Too much lip-smacking and looping from Liz but she gives great reaction shot and mimics Rhett’s famous line to Scarlett with a scatological update. According to Caine, Liz arrived on the set for the first day of filming with a pitcher of Bloody Marys. The movie’s temperament mirrors the drenching—loose, scathing, OMG, did we really drink that much?
Text COPYRIGHT © 2001 RALPH BENNER All Rights Reserved.