[box cover]


Twenty years before Halle Berry stood on stage at the Golden Globes and urged audiences to come see Swordfish if they wanted to get a glimpse of her own globes, S.O.B. (1981) became infamous as "the topless Julie Andrews movie." Playing Sally Miles, a goody-two-shoes movie star who shatters her G-rated rep in an attempt to salvage her producer husband's latest bomb, the erstwhile Mary Poppins and Maria von Trapp really does bare it all for the camera. The result is sharp, self-aware moment of satire that — while a tad gratuitous — embodies the bitterly funny tone of director Blake Edwards' showbiz farce ("S.O.B." stands for Hollywood's "Standard Operating Bull"). Unfortunately, much of the rest of the movie doesn't quite hit the mark; chaotic and a little too bitter for its own good, S.O.B. takes too long to build momentum and gets bogged down by the bloated cast — which includes Richard Mulligan as Sally's despondent husband Felix, William Holden as his jaded collaborator, Robert Preston as a scene-stealing doctor, Robert Vaughn as an oily studio exec, Loretta Swit as a shrill, nasty gossip-columnist, and Robert Webber as a nervous hanger-on. What S.O.B. does do well is poke fun at some of the excesses of late-'70s Hollywood: the "let's do lunch, babe" smarminess, the drug-addled sex parties, the back-stabbing and double-crossing (wait — has anything changed in the last two decades?). As a time capsule, it's an interesting piece of work; the clothes alone will leave you shaking your head (particularly Mulligan's linen jumpsuit, which looks like he stole it out of Rue McClanahan's "Golden Girls" closet). Other high points include Holden, Preston, and Webber's clandestine operation at the end of the movie — their collaboration yields moments of poignant comedy — and hearing Julie Andrews say "I've gotta show my boobies!" Take that, Disney! S.O.B. works nicely on Warner's DVD. Despite showing its age in a few spots, the anamorphic transfer (2.35:1) is generally clean, and the monaural Dolby Digital soundtrack is more than adequate for Edwards' rapid-fire dialogue and Andrews' opening "Polly Wolly Doodle" number (you will get it stuck in your head). Other options include a French mono and an array of subtitles. Click on special features to find cast and crew credits and the original trailer (which definitely uses Andrews' going commando as a selling point). Snap-case.
—Betsy Bozdech

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