Producer Jerome Hellman guided this production through many harrowing days as an all-New York try. Despite the problems, which included craft union hassles incident to being the first film ever lensed in its entirety at Michael Myerberg’s Long Island Studios, as well as scheduling problems involving Peter Seller’s other commitments, Orient has come off an often-funny and always fetching production, the first feature to be made by the indie Pan Arts Co.
Nora and Nunnally Johnson’s screenplay, based on Mrs Johnson’s novel, deals with the adventures of two young schoolgirls in Manhattan and their infatuation with a nutty avant garde pianist named Henry Orient (Sellers). One of the girls (Tippy Walker), the daughter of wealthy parents, is given to wild fights of fancy and her imagination is what first drums up the crush on Orient. At a ritzy eastside private school she befriends a more stable youngster, (Merrie Spaeth), who is captivated by her pal’s vicarious and actual adventures and the two become best friends.
Pic traces the duo in their often-relentless pursuit of Orient whose talent at the piano is less than distinctive but whose ardor for ladies, especially married ones, is unbounded. The young femmes soon develop the knack of showing up constantly at just the wrong time.
Although it is primarily the girls’ picture (probably the first time anyone has ‘stolen’ a pic from Sellers), several others contribute fine performances. As Walker’s selfish mother, Angela Lansbury delivers skillfully, the epitome of the dominating wealthy wife. Paula Prentiss overplays as an object of Orient’s amorous intentions.