Review of The Man Who Had Power Over Women in Monthly Film Bulletin, November 1970, p. 228



Great Britain, 1970                                                                                                                        Director:  John Krish



Cert:  X.  dist:  Avco Embassy.  p.c.:  Kettledrum Productions.  In association with Rodlor Inc. exec. p: Leonard Lightstone.  p:  Judd Bernard.  assoc. p:  Patricia Casey.  p. manager:  David Korda.  assistant d:  Barry Langley.  sc:  Alan Scott, Chris Bryant.  Based on the novel by Gordon Williams.  ph:  Gerry Turpin.  col:  Eastman Colour.  ed:  Thom Noble.  a.d.:  Colin Grimes.  m:  John Mandel.  lyrics:  Hal David.  cost:  Brian Cox.  titles:  David Steen.  sd:  Brian Marshall.  l.p.:  Rod Taylor (Peter Reaney), Carol White (Jody Pringle), James Booth (Val Pringle), Penelope Horner (Angela Reaney), Charles Korvin (Alfred Felix), Alexandra Stewart (Frances), Keith Barron (Jake Braid), Clive Francis (Barry Black), Marie-France Boyer (Maggie), Magali Nol (Mrs. Franchetti), Geraldine Moffat (Lydia Blake), Wendy Hamilton (Mary Gray), Ellis Dale (Norman), Phillip Stone (Angela's Father), Sara Booth (Sarah Pingle[sic]), Matthew Booth (Mark Pringle), Jimmy Jewel (Mr. Pringle), Patrick Durkin (Herbie), Virginia Clay (Mrs. Pringle), Diana Chance (Stripper), Ruth Trouncer (Mrs. Gray), Paul Farrell (Reaney's Father).  8,111 ft. 90 mins.


Peter Reaney, a successful public relations executive, returns from an assignment shepherding the company's most difficult client, pop idol Barry Black, on a Continental tour, to find his neglected wife Angela on the point of departing for good.  At work Reaney is consoled by his best friend Val Pringle, and when the two men return to Reaney's flat to find Angela gone, Val invites Reaney to spend the evening with himself and his wife Jody.  At the agency Reaney is disgusted to learn of the hasty arrangements being made for an abortion for a girl Barry Black has made pregnant, and even more shocked to discover that Angela has withdrawn most of the money from their joint bank account.  Comforted by Jody, Reaney becomes aware of another kind of affection, and one night after he and Val return from a drunken stag party, Reaney makes love to her.  Determined to tell Val of their feelings, Reaney and Jody later return from a night out to find Val in bed with Frances, a friend of Jody's Next morning, as Reaney attempts.s to talk to Val on their way to work, Val is suddenly killed in an accident.  Jody and Reaney decide to stay together, and Reaney, in a final fit of anger and self-loathing when he hears that the pregnant girl has died because of the abortion, leaves the agency after first laying out Barry Black before a crowd of his adoring fans.


A straightforward, not to say inanely obvious and sentimental message seems to underlie this story of the spiritual guilt and cowardice bred by commercial compromise.  Everything in the development of the film, from the bright, plasticated colors in each succeeding decor to Reaney's progression toward health in a happy relationship and in finally wrenching clear from the built-in corruption of the agency work, solidly emphasizes the moral lesson.  Perhaps because the film's centre seems such a heavy platitude, some vestige of interest only begins to develop, by simple opposition, in the periphery.  The title is the first incongruous note:  there is not a male in the film to whom it could apply.  The only positive quality of the two characters caught in a world they both despise is their friendship, on the level of drunken pranks, mock-homosexual badinage and an obvious affection.  But once the solemn affair with Jody begins, this amusing interplay disappears--only surfacing in such odd sick jokes as Val's death under a deluge of lavatory bowls and the line in his will bequeathing his love to Reaney and his body to "science or the glue factory".  The theme is finally never more than half alive, with a tawdry existence in the margins of a superficial film.