DVD Reissue: The Ritz ***1/2

By Dennis Hartley

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The Ritz – Warner Brothers DVD

Everything’s coming up sunshine and Santa Claus! I suspect lots of folks have been waiting for this film to come out of the vaults (closet?). I’m usually not a fan of broadly comic, door-slamming farce (is it necessary for the actors to always scream their lines?)-but I do make an exception for Richard Lester’s 1976 film adaptation of Terrence McNally’s stage play, because it always puts me in stitches, no matter how many times I’ve seen it. Jack Weston plays a N.Y.C. businessman on the run from the mob, who seeks  asylum in what he figures will be the last place on earth that the hit men would think of to search for him-a gay bath house. And yes, hilarity ensues.

The cast includes F. Murray Abraham, Jerry Stiller, Kaye Ballard, and Treat Williams as a private detective with a very interesting speaking voice. They are all excellent, but ultimately upstaged by the lady who absolutely steals the movie-Rita Moreno as Googie Gomez, a sort of female version of Bill Murray’s cheesy lounge act character on those old SNL episodes. I have learned from experience to be sure not to be sipping a beverage or munching a snack when Googie launches into her interpretation of “Everything’s Coming Up Roses”, because otherwise, I will be passing some form of matter through my nose. The DVD features an excellent transfer.

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