As a play, Murray Schisgal’s Luv was a hit comedy which ran more than two years on Broadway. Many of the beguiling qualities are lost in its transference to the screen. Where the legiter was wildly absurd and deliciously outlandish much of the humor of the picture is forced, proving that a sophisticated stage comedy isn’t always ideal fare for the screen.
Opening on Manhattan Bridge, where Jack Lemmon, a self-proclaimed failure, is about to commit suicide, story takes form as Peter Falk, a self-proclaimed success, comes along and saves him. Falk recognizes in Lemmon an old school friend and takes him home to meet his wife, whom he immediately tries to palm off on Lemmon so he can get a divorce and marry the girl of his dreams, a gymnasium instructor named Linda.
Clive Donner’s direction fits the frantic overtones of unfoldment, but in this buildup occasionally goes overboard for effect. Lemmon appears to over-characterize his role, a difficult one for exact shading. Falk as a bright-eyed schemer scores decisively in a restrained comedy enactment for what may be regarded as pic’s top performance.