Friday November 17, 2000
"Blue Moon" is a warm and pleasant romantic fantasy that shows BenGazzara and Rita Moreno to advantage but is better suited to the tube or the stage.
Adapted by its director, John Gallagher, from Stephen Carducci's story, this Castle Hill release simply isn't distinctive or substantial enough to warrant theatrical presentation, especially when screens are crowded with much stronger fare at this time of year.
Gazzara and Moreno play an attractive, wealthy couple who have been happily married for 40 years. Gazzara's Frank Cavallo, a hard-working, self-made man, has just retired from his textiles business and is at loose ends. The christening of his grandchild, coupled with a new lack of purpose, has left him depressed and discontent--and feeling hopelessly old and useless.
At the party after the christening, he drinks too much, and in their envy, he and some pals are unwittingly rude to the very young new wife of one of their friends, treating her as if she were a bimbo instead of the erudite archeologist she is.
All the while Moreno's Maggie keeps a wary eye on her clearly miserable husband, trying to curb his drinking and maneuver him into going home. Chic, vibrant and lovely, Maggie is a wise and special lady, handling Frank with a light touch.
When the closemouthed Frank refuses to open up to her, Maggie at last insists they take off for their vacation home in the Catskills. Alone with her husband, Maggie isn't so restrained, raising hell when he insists on listening to his beloved game on their car radio instead of the easy music she prefers.
Once at their place, it's clear that Maggie has her work cut out for her in getting Frank to talk about what's bothering him. Frank responds so thoroughly to Maggie's efforts to cheer him up that he becomes amorous, and while he heads for the bedroom she slips into a slinky nightgown--only to find him fast asleep.
But the night is not going to be like any other, for the moon has turned blue. Frank and Maggie are startled to be awakened by a young couple (Alanna Ubach and Brian Vincent) entering their cabin. The couple insist that they've rented the place, and as everyone starts calming down and trying to straighten out the seeming misunderstanding, Maggie gradually realizes that she and Frank are having a magical encounter with their 40-years-younger selves.
Their younger selves are encouraged to discover what a happy and successful future lies ahead for them, once they've overcome the obstacle of their very different backgrounds--he's blue-collar Italian American, she's the daughter of super-rich, super-snobbish Spanish nobility--during their courtship. Frank, it's hoped, will discover a sense of renewal in realizing anew what a good life and marriage he really has had.
Not surprisingly, Gazzara and Moreno are most effective, and Ubach and Vincent are appealing counterparts, even if their physical resemblance to the older Frank and Maggie is not all that strong.
"Blue Moon" has charm and wisdom, but its glow is too modest to expect it to attract crowds to theaters.
Blue Moon, 2000. PG-13, for some language and brief violence. A Castle Hill Productions presentation. Writer-director John Gallagher. From a story by Stephen Carducci. Producers Ronnie Shapiro, Sylvia Caminer. Executive Producer Norman Chanes. Cinematographer Craig DiBona. Editors Craig McKay, Naomi Geraghty. Music Stephen Endelman. Costumes Catherine Thomas. Production designer Wing Lee. Running time: 1 hour, 29 minutes. Ben Gazzara as Frank. Rita Moreno as Maggie. Alanna Ubach as Peggy. Brian Vincent as Mac.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times