Something for Everyone Blu-ray Review

Unusual black comedy is worthy of attention. 3.5 Stars

Harold Prince’s uber-black comedy Something for Everyone is a sophisticate’s delight: a delicious, stylized cinematic morsel as appetizing as sweet pastry and as lethal as curare.

Something for Everyone (1970)
Released: 10 Apr 1975
Rated: R
Runtime: 112 min
Director: Harold Prince
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Cast: Angela Lansbury, Michael York, Anthony Higgins, Heidelinde Weis
Writer(s): Harry Kressing (novel), Hugh Wheeler
Plot: Konrad, a handsome country boy in post-war Austria, charms his way into a butler position at the castle of a widowed countess that lost her fortune. Before long the opportunistic boy is ...
IMDB rating: 7.4
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: CBS
Distributed By: Kino Lorber
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: R
Run Time: 1 Hr. 52 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD25 (single layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 12/06/2016
MSRP: $29.95

The Production: 4/5

Harold Prince’s uber-black comedy Something for Everyone is a sophisticate’s delight: a delicious, stylized cinematic morsel as appetizing as sweet pastry and as lethal as curare. A wonderful cast and intoxicating European locations add a lavishness to the nasty business tossed off in feather-light fashion and with a wonderful number of twists and turns to keep its audiences wondering what will happen next.

Vagabond Conrad Ludwig (Michael York) has always wanted to own a castle, and when he sees the one owned by the penniless Countess Herthe von Ornstein (Angela Lansbury), he knows he’s come home. But how to gain a foothold into the place? Replacing their footman Rudolph (Klaus Havenstein) is but the first step in a terrifically convoluted plan which involves a rich family, the Pleschkes: Mr. and Mrs.  (John Gill, Eva-Maria Meineke) and their attractive daughter Annalise (Heidelinde Weis), the Countess’ homosexual son Helmuth (Anthony Higgins), plain-jane daughter Lotte (Jane Carr), their butler/major domo Klaus (Wolfried Lien), and anyone else Conrad may find will come in handy in carrying out his nefarious schemes. But as Conrad will soon learn, even the best laid schemes don’t always turn out just as one has planned, but Conrad has the innate good sense to roll with the punches and look for any opportunity to turn events to his own advantage.

Twenty-time Tony winning theater producer and director Harold Prince took his first venture into moviemaking with this project, and he brought with him important members of the New York theater community with whom he had successfully worked in the past: writer Hugh Wheeler (who won three Tonys in Prince-helmed projects) who penned the screenplay based on the novel The Cook by Harry Kressing, costume designer Florence Klotz (a six-time Tony winner in Prince-directed works) who designed the eye-popping gowns for Angela Lansbury (who goes from comfortable poverty to extreme wealth during the course of the film, her wardrobe mirroring the changes in her fortunes), and composer John Kander who likewise had a couple of Tony-winning experiences with the producer/director. All of their efforts are made a part of the fantastic fabric of this most unusual piece which finds a scheming, cold-blooded manipulator whose omnisexual appetites are all in the service of his fondest wish, that magnificent castle which, as he states up front, “Just wait long enough, and things will come.” They come, all right, but with bountiful strings attached that get more tantalizingly hard to untangle the longer the film runs. But that’s the fun of it: how will he solve his next conundrum? In the meantime, we get to revel in the stunning Bavarian scenery captured so beautifully by Walter Lassally’s cinematography (a shot with Conrad reclining surrounded by hundreds of blazing candles is scintillating) and with some sweeping pans up staircases and in a breathtaking garden party sequence as the Countess (guided by Conrad) makes a grand play to regain her fortune.

Michael York is the center of attention as the conniving Conrad, a master manipulator who uses his charm and sexual expertise to get exactly what he wants when he wants it. Angela Lansbury seems rather removed from the major machinations of the plot for a good third of the movie, but once things begin to twist into devilish knots, she becomes more directly involved in the proceedings, tossing off opinions and malicious tidbits with the élan of a great sophisticate. Anthony Higgins (who was acting under the name Anthony Corlan in this early work) is a memorable son Helmuth while Heidelinde Weis gets to play the spoiled rich girl who assumes she’s in the driver’s seat to great effect. Jane Carr’s Lotte is the wild card, seemingly on the sidelines watching things happen to others while silently doing her own manipulating to suit her own purposes. Wolfried Lien is a great autocratic Klaus who has his own secrets to protect. Another Prince favorite Despo plays the Countess’ masseuse and confidante who gets supplanted by York’s wily schemer.

Video: 3.5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film is framed at its theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 and is rendered in 1080p using the AVC codec. Sharpness is very good throughout the presentation though some may object to the more noticeable grain structure present here. Color is generally true with realistic skin tones though there is an occasional pastiness about some of the hues, sometimes seeming a bit dated. Black levels are good but not overly impressive. But CBS has done minimal clean-up on the master materials with dust specks and some small debris throughout. The movie has been divided into 8 chapters.

Audio: 3.5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix is just as one might expect from a movie from this period. Dialogue has been nicely reproduced and has been combined quite professionally with John Kander’s background score and some Bavarian drinking songs and other local music and with the atmospheric sound effects appropriate for the film. But there is more than a little crackle, thumping, and some light pops, usually noticeable around reel changes that do momentarily distract.

Special Features: 0.5/5

Promo Trailers: Valentino, Luna, The Honey Pot, The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes, Topkapi.

Overall: 3.5/5

Something for Everyone is sophisticated, dark, and delicious: a black comedy of notable wit, color, and surprise. The Blu-ray release of the film doesn’t offer it in pristine condition, but it’s by far the best the film has ever looked on home video, and fans will certainly want to have it. Others might want to try a rental to see if the high-toned nastiness is their cup of hemlock.

Published by

Matt Hough

administrator

5 Comments

  1. Thanks for another wonderful review, Matt!

    All I knew about this film was from a friend, who had a terrible copy she bought on eBay that she claimed looked like someone shot video of the movie as it aired on television.

    She also laughed about Michael York in lederhosen, so I knew I had to have it.

    Your review perfectly captures that this film is fun, but the flavor of comedy nastiness will not please everyone and is a matter of tastes and preferences.

    I did not see the ending coming.

  2. Harold Prince is one of the greatest producer/directors in American theater. This is the man who gave us West Side Story, Cabaret, Sweeney Todd, Evita, Fiddler On The Roof, Phantom Of The Opera, Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum, She Loves Me, Follies and Company just to name a few. But the man can't direct a movie worth *beep*! While Hugh  Wheeler's script for Something For Everyone is serviceable, Prince's direction is plodding (and he doesn't handle the actors very well either) and Prince is directly responsible for ruining the film version of A Little Night Music (1977). Just think what Vincent Minnelli could have done with it! Fortunately, Prince (or someone) realized he can't direct movies and unlike other stage directors who transitioned to film quite well (Mike Nichols, Bob Fosse), he has since stuck to the stage after his 2 efforts and left cinema alone!

  3. A Matter of Time was taken away from Minnelli in post-production by AIP and cut in half. Martin Scorsese took out an ad condemning them for doing so, but in this case whether the original version will ever be seen again is doubtful. It is also believed that he was in the early stages of dementia, and that may have led to it being taken away from him.

    Angela Lansbury first read the script for Bedknobs and Broomsticks, where she would do battle with Nazis and the Shermans would do battle with Card Walker yet again, while on location with this film where she was the matriarch of a German family who survived Nazism but whose family fortune did not.* And speaking of alliterative movies, Cinema Center Films also released The Boys in the Band the same year, so it's interesting that they released two movies with gay content in the year after the Stonewall riot when the majors, including Lansbury's next employer, were still skittish about the subject. Too bad they were gone by 1972, but they certainly made some notable films in such a short period of time. Nowadays the TV networks themselves are basically extensions of movie studios.

    Bill Condon could do magic with A Little Night Music if given the chance to do so. He doesn't get as much credit as he deserves for the success of Chicago on screen.


    *Not to mention leaving the country to keep her daughter away from a man with a swastika tattoo on his forehead, even if that cost her Mame on screen.

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