Blume in Love (1973): George Segal in Mazursky’s Serio Comedy

blume_in_love_posterManners and mores among members of the upper-middle class, often among Jews, was one of the most consistent themes in Paul Mazursky’s work.

Written, produced, and directed by Mazursky, Blume in Love was the director’s third film, in which he also appears as an actor.  Mazursky once described Blume in Love as “A love story for guys who cheat on their wives.”

 

 

George Segal gives an utterly credible performance as Stephen Blume, a young-middle-aged, handsome Beverly Hills divorce lawyer, who tries to regain the wife Nina (Susan Anspach), who has divorced him.

Wandering around Venice, Italy, where they first honeymooned, Blume contemplates on what possessed him to betray Nina, a woman he loves, by having sex with his secretary.

For her part, after leaving him, Nina sets about a journey of self-discovery, trying new things like yoga and taking up with a man who’s much younger than her, Elmo (Kris Kristofferson), who happens to be an unemployed musician.

blume_in_love_6_mazurskyBlume goes to great lengths to win Nina back, which gets complicated due to the fact that Elmo is really a nice guy, and the former husband becomes aware of it.

The tale is narrated by Blume’s voice-overs, which take the viewers from Venice, Italy to Venice, California, and back.

A personal feature, the movie unfolds as a comic memoir of mores and manners, capturing the restless personality of Blume and insecure ego of typical American males going through early menopause.

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The rich musical score deserves mentioning for carefully and evocatively combining classic pieces from Mozart and Wagner and new songs written by the film’s star Kris Kristofferson.

Blume in Love is not as eccentric and crazy enough to qualify as a screwball comedy of remarriage, a sub-genre that was extremely popular in the 1930s and 1940s (The Awful Truth, The Philadelphia Story, His Girl Friday).

At the time, the movie divided critics, but by today’s standards, this serious comedy of manners holds up well, especially as far as the acting is involved.

A zeitgeist director, with a good sense of what’s timely and relevant in pop culture, Mazursky constructed characters that were flawed yet sympathetic, inherently restless yet appealing in their need for settle down.

It’s too bad that his technical skills had never matched the level and quality of his writing.

Release date: June 17, 1973

Running time: 115 minutes

Cast

George Segal – Stephen Blume

Susan Anspach – Nina Blume

Kris Kristofferson – Elmo Cole

Marsha Mason – Arlene

Shelley Winters – Mrs. Cramer

Donald F. Muhich – Analyst

Paul Mazursky – Hellman

Erin O’Reilly – Cindy

Annazette Chase- Gloria

Shelley Morrison Mrs. Greco

Mary Jackson – Louise