03
Jan
14

Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills (1989)

scenesvhscoverWhat’s that you say? Paul Bartel writes and directs a movie about Hollywood sexual dysfunction? Maybe after a few years of success with their restaurant, Paul & Mary Bland turned into the types of characters that populate Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills? Stranger things have happened, especially in California

Clare (Jacqueline Bisset) is a brand-new widow, but that’s not stopping her from trying to brighten up her fading Hollywood star! Neither are several appearances by her husband’s ghost. She’s invited her neighbor, Lisabeth (Mary Woronov) to stay over while she gets her house fumigated. And so begins a bet between Lisabeth’s chauffeur, Frank, and Clare’s houseboy, Juan (Robert Beltran). If Frank bangs Clare first, Juan owes him five grand. If Juan gets to Lisabeth first, Frank forks over the bucks. If neither are successful in a few days’ time, Frank gets to bone Juan. Because that makes sense, right?

This bet, of course, is just the tip of the iceberg: the real in(s)anity is comes from the rich folks, not their employees. Clare and Lisabeth have their issues, but things get even more interesting when Lisabeth’s ex-husband Howard (Wallace Shawn) stops by for a visit, and runs into an old flame of his (and also porn star) To-Bel, who is now married to Lisabeth’s brother, Peter (Ed Begley Jr.).

There is so much more going on, but I’ll let you discover it all for yourself. Unfortunately, this is a movie very few people have seen, it seems. It doesn’t appear to be readily available on Region 1 DVD (except for the one I saw on Amazon for $260?). I think Vincent Canby summed it up pretty succinctly when he wrote: Scenes From the Class Struggle is one long smile with an occasional belly laugh” I’d throw in a few chuckles, too. It’s goofy, silly and fun. In short: pretty good, but nowhere near as good as Eating Raoul. Few things are, though. Right?

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