Just Like a Woman Review

Lewis McKenzie (Francis Matthews) is a TV producer with an eye for the ladies and a fondness for the bottle. And his singer wife Scilla (Wendy Craig) has had enough and they separate.

Robert Fuest is best known nowadays for his pair of horror films starring Vincent Price, The Abominable Dr Phibes and Dr Phibes Rises Again. He also made a now rarely-shown adaptation of Michael Moorcock’s first Jerry Cornelius novel The Final Programme.

Just Like a Woman (not to be confused with the 1992 film of the same name) was Fuest’s cinema directing debut, after work on TV on episodes of The Avengers amongst others. If nothing else Just Like a Woman is deliberately, aggressively designed in heightened late-60s colour for DP Billy Williams's camera. (The credited art director is Brian Eatwell, in his feature debut.)

But what Just Like a Woman lacks is a sound structure or a consistent tone. The film falls into a series of setpieces string together on a thin plotline: the first twenty minutes, about a quarter of the running time, details the events of just one night. At times Fuest and his cast seem to be playing it relatively straight, though not without a few knowing winks at the audience, then (for example) on comes a pre-Corporal Jones Clive Dunn as an eccentric German architect, played several degrees over the top.

Wendy Craig (in an unflattering ginger afro) and Francis Matthews do their best to hold this film together, but ultimately they don’t succeed. The cast, full of future TV names, is at least interesting. They include Peter Jones and Miriam Karlin as Lewis’s work colleagues, Dennis Price as a bathroom salesman, Juliet Harmer (from Adam Adamant Lives! as a young woman Lewis has a fling with, Barry Fantoni as an infantile pop star, and Ray Barrett in the climactic party scene as a sexually predatory Australian.

Just Like a Woman exists on the periphery of Swinging London, much like its characters do: they’re older than their counterparts in other films, and alcohol rather than anything hallucinogenic is their drug of choice. Although it doesn’t really work, the film is worth seeing as a relic of its era, and certainly has its amusing moments, but it’s dated in the way that anything that chases the coattails of fashion always is.

The Disc: Just Like a Woman is released on a single-layer DVD by Digital Classics, and is encoded for all regions. This review was from a DVD-R copy, so may not be entirely indicative of the retail disc.

The transfer is open-matte in a ratio of 4:3. That’s certainly not the intended ratio, which by eye seems to be 1.66:1, though 1.75:1 or 1.85:1 are also possible for British films of this period. As for the transfer itself, it’s a little soft but certainly acceptable, with strong colours.

The soundtrack is the original mono and is clear and well-balanced. There are no subtitles, and no extras.

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