The Woman in Red (1984)
Released by Orion Pictures

Based on the 1976 French comedy "Un Eléphant Ça Trompe Enormément" directed by Yves Roberts, later released in English under the title "Pardon Mon Affaire", The Woman in Red was directed by Gene Wilder who also co-wrote the screenplay with Jean-Loup Dabadie, and is the tale of a mild mannered man and his adulterous obsession with a beautiful and seemingly unattainable supermodel.

Wilder stars as Teddy Pierce, an advertising executive and happily married man with a wonderful job and family, who has always been content with his suburbanite conservative lifestyle, no matter how drab and boring, but the opening sequence finds Teddy standing on the ledge of a building, a crowd gathering below him on the street, waiting for him to jump.

He asks himself how he got there, and thinks back a few days prior. The entire movie is basically a flashback.

Teddy's friends, Mickey, Joe and Buddy, are all boisterous and wild, bragging of their infidelities, conquests, and how well they have fooled their women, but quiet Teddy tells them he would have none of that, that he loves his wife (Judith Ivey) too much to do something like that to her. He loves her too much to break her heart right up to the point that he sees a well known supermodel, Charlotte (Kelly Le Brock in the title role) having her skirt blown up around her hips (in an allusion to Marilyn Monroe's famous pose from "Seven Year Itch") while she stands on a garage steam vent.

From that point on Teddy can't seem to resist the temptation to pursue the model as he sees her everywhere on billboards and signs, and in a lust-struck daze at his office, his strange behavior gives his lonely secretary, Ms. Milner (Gilda Radner) the notion that he is trying to initiate a secret affair with her. Her conclusion is only futher supported when Teddy mistakingly asks her out to dinner over the phone, when he thinks he is talking to Charlotte, The Woman in Red.

After she thinks she has been stood up by Teddy, Ms. Milner wreaks havok on his car, slashing his tires, tweaking his windshield wipers and bending his radio antennae in half. Perplexed as he is by her actions, Teddy's desire for the model is unaffected.

Just as Teddy has secured a way to fulfill his fantasy, his friend's lives fall apart because of their cheating ways, a foreshadow of Teddy's own fate.

Joey's (Joseph Bologna) wife, after finding out about his cheating, leaves him and takes everything in their apartment including the ice-cube trays.

Buddy (Charles Grodin) has a more serious problem when his gay lover dumps him in front of the whole crew, throwing a gold tennis bracelet on the table, calling him a 'Bitch' and throwing all of his clothes out into the street while his friends watch, agog, shocked that one of their own was a closet homosexual.

They all end up envying Teddy and telling him that he has a good thing going on, but he has already made up his mind, and will not be talked out of it, so, in true, live-life-to-its-fullest-and-do-what-feels-good 80's fashion, they take him out for a night on the town, throwing empty beer bottles out the car windows and playing a prank in a resturant where Charles Grodin's character pretends to be blind, grabbing waitresses' breasts, bald men's heads and a bratwurst off of a plate, screaming: "MY GOD, what kind of place is this?". The giggling group makes their fast getaway, with Charles Grodin in the driver's seat arms stretched out, hands grasping for the wheel, as the car speeds out of the frame leaving the patrons of the resturaunt horrified.

They drop Teddy off at a photoshoot of Charlotte's and give him a few words of encouragement. Teddy ogles the model while she poses and afterwards ends up at her house clumsily getting undressed and into bed with her, in a wacky way that only Wilder could pull off, and succeeds in making the viewer feel very embarrassed for him.

Just as she is about to make his every dream come true, her husband comes home unexpectedly and she forces poor Teddy out the window in a robe, onto the ledge where below a crowd starts to gather, and then a news crew, and then the fire department.

He tells himself he is crazy for going through with this, that he loves his wife and his children too much to throw it all away. Prompted by the firemen to jump into their safety net, he hurls himself off the ledge, but as he is coming down, spies a beautiful reporter and starts to get that old funny feeling once again.

Wilder's zany comedic performance in the film, while certainly not on the level of Blazing Saddles or Young Frankenstein, saves the film from being more than just a vehicle to promote Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You" and the sequences with the late Gilda Radner do more than their share to keep the audience entertained as well.

The lack of real regret and emotion leaves the movie feeling slightly hollow. The characters express only a few moments of remorse for their actions before readily pushing their buddy into the same position that caused them to be upset.

Kelly LeBrock is shown completely nude, but the movie retains its PG-13 rating most likely because of the brevity of the scene and its lack of violence.

1. Woman In Red, The - Stevie Wonder
2. It's You - Dionne Warwick/Stevie Wonder
3. It's More Than You - (instrumental)
4. I Just Called To Say I Love You - Stevie Wonder
5. Love Light In Flight - Stevie Wonder
6. Moments Aren't Moments - Dionne Warwick
7. Weakness - Dionne Warwick/Stevie Wonder
8. Don't Drive Drunk - Stevie Wonder

Gene Wilder - Teddy Pierce
Charles Grodin - Buddy
Joseph Bologna - Joey
Judith Ivey - Didi Pierce
Michael Huddleston - Mikey
Kelly LeBrock - Charlotte
Gilda Radner - Ms. Milner

cast listing from
sountrack listing from

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