Sweet Charity is, in short, a terrific musical film. Based on the 1966 legituner [by Neil Simon, Cy Coleman and Dorothy Fields, based on Federico Fellini’s film, Nights of Cabiria], extremely handsome and plush production accomplishes everything it sets out to do.
Elements of comedy, drama, pathos and hope blend superbly with sure fire entertainment values, stylishly and maturely planned and executed.
The story involves a gullible woman, of relatively low station in life, who refuses to believe that tomorrow does not hold a promise of happiness. [Pic was made available with both ‘sad’ and ‘happy’ endings.]
Shirley MacLaine is a dance-hall hostess who, at the outset, has just been sloughed off by a gigolo. An accidental encounter with an Italian screen idol, played superbly by Ricardo Montalban, precedes a blossoming romance with John McMartin.
MacLaine’s unique talents as a comic tragedienne are set off to maximum impact.
The film strikes the correct balance between escapist fantasy and hard reality. MacLaine’s working environment is sleazy, but romantic adventures occur in believable settings – a lavish apartment, a street, a rooftop, a restaurant, a discotheque.
Fosse’s staging of the musical numbers is outstanding. Atop his remembered style is a brilliant, film-oriented appreciation of the emphasis possible only with camera and movieola.
1969: Nominations: Best Costume Design, Art Direction, Adapted Musical Score