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The Man Who Had Power Over Women (1970)

Rod Taylor plays Peter Reaney, a successful talent agent who discovers ethics and true love.

The movie's cumbersome title and its billing as a sex farce both miss the target. The story -- although frequently and fatally over the top -- has much more depth than just being about a man who can't keep "his grasping hands" off women.

ON THE SCREEN

The movie examines Peter's intermingled relationships: His job, his wife, and the family of his best friend, Val (James Booth).

Peter and Val work for spoiled pop singer Barry Black (Clive Francis). Peter already feels like a parasite, living off the talents of others, and he's further sickened after having to arrange an abortion for a woman impregnated by Black. Peter winds up quitting the agency and later punching out the pop star.

Meanwhile, Peter's marriage is disintegrating. His wife, Angela (Penelope Horner) never was a good match, and she's finally fed up with Peter's often-drunken behavior. She spills her feelings to Val's wife Jody (Carol White). Angela complains about how she's not all that interested in sex, and that she's never understood or kept pace with Peter's sexual appetite. Jody seems intrigued.

Once Angela finally throws Peter out, he's taken in by Val and Jody (whose marriage isn't all that stable either, we learn).

Adrift and feeling as though he doesn't do real work, Peter attempts to reach out. A quiet, awkward, touching scene that unfolds at his father's doorstep is in deep contrast to the brashness of much of the rest of the movie.

Later, with Peter fresh from the drunk tank and lamenting the lack of meaning in his life, Jody reaches out to him. They wind up in bed -- and in love. Soon after, an oblivious Val asks Peter to take Jody to the movies. When Jody wonders if they've made a mistake, Peter responds: "I loved you all I knew then; I love you more now." (It's a moment that moves me second only to one in Young Cassidy, where Rod sings a gentle love song to Maggie Smith on the riverbank.)

Unfortunately, such simple scenes of clear emotion are too few in this movie.

BEHIND THE SCENES

In a 1969 interview, Rod offered a "peek" at what might have been planned for the movie:

According to the script, I'm a character who keeps having these fantasies over women. There's one incident which strikes me as being particularly funny. This mixed-up character -- me -- catches a bus and discovers that the girl collecting the fares is completely nude. The only items which cover her modesty are the money-bags and some leather straps.

Then he notices all the passengers are sitting naked. I shall be nude myself in this scene, and let's say I shall need plenty of rehearsals with the girls before I'm satisfied with the scenes. At least, I hope so."

-- People magazine (Australia)
July 16, 1969

Alas, for his audiences and himself, this isn't quite how the movie turned out!

 

 

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LINKS

IMDb // Wikipedia

Pressbook items (PDF)

CinemaX interview

James Booth: Page of images and info

 

VIEWER'S GUIDE

VHS on Amazon.com

DVD-R on iOffer.com

Video clip on YouTube:
Death by toilets

         
   

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