Candace Bergen, in furs, talking to Meg Ryan

Rich and Famous

Screening on Film
Directed by George Cukor.
With Jacqueline Bisset, Candice Bergen, David Selby.
US, 1981, 35mm, color, 117 min.
Print source: George Eastman Museum

Both admirers and detractors of Hollywood films have cause to confine their delights, and to constrict their tears. To allow this repression as well as to invite the challenge are both essential to the art of this golden cinema. The small but stubborn and clear voice of [video]—making subsequent playing as convenient as initial—may join either the effort to repress or the effort to challenge the repression, but it alters the odds in favor of challenge. It can tell us, or remind us, for example, that in Old Acquaintance, the year after Now, Voyager, Bette Davis is dressed, on her entrance, in obviously male-derived clothes, laying the suggestion of the film that she is the active rival of her friend’s husband for the friend’s love (the friend played by Miriam Hopkins). This is more explicit in George Cukor’s remake of Old Acquaintance over forty years later as Rich and Famous, with Jacqueline Bisset and Candice Bergen, which guides this pair to a concluding embrace in Connecticut, thus invoking this film’s relation to a genre of Hollywood films of which Cukor was a master, the comedy of remarriage, for his The Philadelphia Story and Adam’s Rib are defining examples. The invocation shows (to the extent that Rich and Famous does its work) that the questions posed in the genre of remarriage comedy—whether we know what the role is of romance in marriage, what the role of gender is in romance, what the bond or meld is of devotion and intimacy that constitutes what we call marriage—remain in question. – Stanley Cavell, “The Advent of Videos” (1988), in Cavell on Film, ed. William Rothman

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