A note on journalistic malfeasance – ‘The Tamarind Seed’

[Originally published in Movietone News 35, August 1974, from the TRACKING SHOT column]

Parallax View doesn’t usually reproduce MTN ephemera such as the catch-all column “Tracking Shot.” Howsomever, this note of mine regarding the brief passage of Blake Edwards’s The Tamarind Seed through town engages an issue which, sadly, is anything but ephemeral. –RTJ

In the lead article of this issue, Kathleen Murphy confesses to some presuppositions that disposed her against The Tamarind Seed before she went into the theater. She did go into the theater, which a lot of generally intelligent and discerning filmgoers aren’t even considering as an option, given the plethora of signals surrounding the movie—the casting, the advertising, some of the damning-with-faint-praise “favorable” reviews.

As further evidence of what is keeping people from giving a chance to a film we frankly regard as singularly fine, we quote the following throwaway from a film potpourri column in a recent number of the new Seattle Sun: “The pathetic return of Julie Andrews (who sometimes wears a slip) and Omar Sharif (who always wears a smirk). If there was a prize for bad directing, Blake Edwards would win it with this.”

So much in so brief a space … One wonders whether any return of Julie Andrews would automatically be regarded as “pathetic” or if this one is considered singularly so. Andrews’ image in the racial consciousness is pretty sexless; hence the notion of her in a “slip,” a particularly bourgeois and unrevealing piece of lingerie, is funny—but in fact she doesn’t wear one, though she spends a fair amount of time in a bikini or (presumably) nude under a sheet. Omar Sharif’s range of expressions in The Tamarind Seed is by no means limited, but it’s just possible that he doesn’t “smirk” at all. And as to Blake Edwards’ “bad directing”—well, even those who haven’t hailed the film as a masterpiece conceded it was made with conspicuous control and polish.

There’s no telling whether anyone was talked out of going to The Tamarind Seed by this two-line tossoff. But as an exercise in misrepresentation, it’s wellnigh encyclopedic. We wondered, as one facetiously does in such cases, whether the writer had seen the same film. Turns out he had—but only ten minutes of it.

RTJ

Copyright © 1974 Richard T. Jameson


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