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  Jennifer on My Mind Dead Girlfriend Jokes
Year: 1971
Director: Noel Black
Stars: Michael Brandon, Tippy Walker, Steve Vinovich, Lou Gilbert, Chuck McCann, Peter Bonerz, Renée Taylor, Bruce Kornbluth, Robert De Niro, Michael McClanathan, Allan F. Nicholls, Ralph J. Pinto, Barry Bostwick, Jeff Conaway, Nick Lapadula
Genre: Comedy, Romance, WeirdoBuy from Amazon
Rating:  3 (from 1 vote)
Review: Marcus (Michael Brandon) is a rich kid who has spent the last while spending his parents' fortune, they having inherited it from his bootlegger grandfather, and has wound up in Venice as part of his wanderings around the world. It is there he meets Jennifer (Tippy Walker), another rich kid who he is immediately enchanted with, though the feeling may not be mutual as she seems to tire of him intermittently, and often. But she is such a free spirit that he finds her company addictive, and when she tells him at the end of the day that's it, maybe see you again some day, he promises her the grass she has been craving all afternoon. But Jennifer would be advised to stay away from drugs.

When Love Story, both as a book and a film, were hits around 1970, it seemed their writer Erich Segal had struck gold. No, they were not critical darlings by any means, but who needed the approval of the cognoscenti when the masses were lapping up your tearjerker as if it was going out of fashion, which as the New Hollywood began to bite, people thought it genuinely was. This was a traditional weepie, where you knew from the beginning that the romance it depicted was doomed to end in tragedy, all the better to wallow in the emotions that Segal manufactured for his hip young couple characters. Then he wrote Jennifer on My Mind and it all went to pot, so to speak.

Actually he was adapting a book, but his name was all over the promotion and United Artists were convinced they had another Love Story-sized blockbuster on their hands - until audiences started to see it and found it so hugely offputting that it was labelled a complete turkey and Segal struggled to get any other projects off the ground, with his next seven years later, a sequel to Love Story titled Oliver's Story that failed to replicate the earlier success. He retreated to academia, though continued writing, and while he will always be the Love Story guy, for bad movie fanatics he will also always be the dead girlfriend stuffed in a harpsichord movie guy, as happens in this fiasco.

The most troubling part of Jennifer on My Mind was that it was apparently supposed to be a comedy, though good luck trying to divine anything resembling a joke here, aside from the whole production being a joke, that was, and not a good one. There were certain sequences that appeared to be aiming for a kind of farce, in a blackly comic manner, yet otherwise this was one of those movies that desperately tried to get down wiv tha kids, 1970 hippy kids, by featuring drugs and far out characters and situations. There was quite a bit of this around back then, and most turned on audiences of the day knew when they were being patronised, with the result that theatres were littered with these kind of flops as the older generation cluelessly attempted to work out what it was that this new market wanted from their entertainment.

It certainly wasn't this, as we are aware from the beginning Jennifer has died of a heroin overdose, because her body is being kept in Marcus's New York apartment (with the air conditioning on to preserve her) as he makes excuses and decides on how to dispose of his girlfriend, which leads him to gutting his harpsichord and putting Jenny inside, just a detail among many that makes this look as if it had been conceived by lunatics. What it is best recalled for, if at all, is the supporting role for Robert De Niro as, guess what, a taxi driver, who showed up in a flashback to take Marcus to the swanky mansion of his girlfriend, except she shows utter disinterest in him apart from when he has drugs on him to share. De Niro added a spark of life to this farrago, suggesting the heroine would have been better hooking up with the taxi driver than boring Marcus, though there was an explosive finale for no other reason than this was the seventies and that's the way you ended your movies back then. An almost total disaster from start to finish, yet it did have a car crash quality that made it difficult to look away from: just how much worse could it get? Music by Stephen Lawrence.
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

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