ALTERNATIVE 007


Moore Not Less - Sunday Lovers 


Sunday Lovers is another one of those films featuring Roger Moore that has largely been forgotten. This is a four segment anthology, released in 1980, revolving around love and sex with four different directors involved. I have never encountered this film on television in my life and it seems to be very obscure - despite the presence of some big names like Roger and Gene Wilder.
Sunday Lovers seems somewhat reminiscent of Woody Allen's Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex (But Were Afraid To Ask) and even has a few actors from that film (Gene Wilder, Lynn Redgrave). Unfortunately, Sunday Lovers doesn't have Woody Allen's wit or comic flair and is a forgettable if not entirely uninteresting exercise.
Roger, if his autobiography is anything to go by, seems to quite like his contribution to Sunday Lovers although he admits that the film never found an audience and didn't really click on the whole. I suspect that the appeal of this film for Roger was working with his friend Bryan Forbes (who directed Roger's segment) and the fact that it would be a quick and fairly easy thing to shoot compared to a Bond film. There was certainly no danger of Roger getting his bottom set on fire by Karl Stromberg making this film.
Roger stars in the first segment - entitled An Englishman's Home. Each of the four stories are set in a different country and we kick off with this British caper. Roger is Harry Lindon, a randy chauffeur for a Lord who lives in an Alan Clark type castle. Harry's regular wheeze is to wait until his boss is out of the country on business and then pose as the owner of the castle in order to impress and pick up airline hostesses. The castle's butler Parker (Denholm Elliott) is in on the wheeze and cooperates as long as Harry bungs him a few quid.
After driving his Lordship to the airport, Harry picks up American airline hostess Donna (Priscilla Barnes) and puts her up at the castle, pretending to be the Lord of the Manor. Complications ensue though when Lady Davina (Lynn Redgrave) unexpectedly turns up at the castle to stay. Lady Davina has designs on Harry and now he must juggle two women in the castle and somehow keep their presence a secret from each other. An old-fashioned farce (predictably) plays out.
An Englishman's Home is the closest you'll ever get to seeing Roger Moore play Robin Askwith. He's a little on the old side to be believable as a Jack the Lad chauffeur and his cockney accent is not completely convincing but I quite enjoyed watching Roger as a somewhat different type of character. To be fair to him he does give Harry a large dose of weariness as if he knows he's been doing this for far too long.
It's fun to see Roger as a more amoral, sleazy type of character but An Englishman's Home is never especially funny and descends into a derivative comic farce with Harry dining both ladies in separate rooms and switching between the two by way of Parker pretending he is needed on the phone. Harry is also dog tired and constantly falling asleep and they try their best to get some jokes out of this with him guzzling vitamins and trying to stave off the attentions of his suitors.
Roger is much more believable posing as the Lord of the Manor than he is playing a chauffeur and you never quite swallow the usually excellent Denholm Elliott as the crooked butler either. Elliott was an incredibly watchable actor but he seems bored by this.


The best performance comes from Lynn Redgrave as the crafty Lady Davina. Redgrave makes her a shallow Sloane Ranger type. Bored aristocracy. Priscilla Barnes (who Bond fans will recognise as the doomed Mrs Leiter in 1989's Licence To Kill) is not given much to do at all as Donna. An Englishman's Home is a modest farce but don't expect anything more than that.
The other segments in the film offer more complexity than the Bryan Forbes opener with Roger but none threaten to make Sunday Lovers anything more than a very average anthology. In The French Method, Lino Ventura is a French businessman who gets into a scrape when trying to close a deal and has to cope with a lecherous American business colleague looking for some fun. This segment has some decent performances and is just about worth sitting through.
In Skippy, the American segment, the great Gene Wilder directs and plays a man released from a sanatorium for the weekend. He meets a young woman named Laurie (Kathleen Quinlan) but she's just as eccentric as he is. This is a rather strange segment that goes to some strange places. Wilder never quite seems to get a handle on what he wants to do with this story and it seems like he's trying too hard with his performance to mask this at times. Kathleen Quinlan is pretty good though.
The last segment is Armando's Notebook. This features Ugo Tognazzi as a man left at home alone for a few days who finds a book containing the numbers of women he used to know. He phones them up to arrange meetings but it doesn't quite go according to plan. This Italian segment is decent enough and if all the stories had been as good as this, or even The French Method, this could have been a very interesting little compendium oddity. As it stands though Sunday Lovers is more of a curiosity than a must watch.

- Jake
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