At Long Last Love. 1975. USA. Directed by Peter Bogdanovich. With Burt Reynolds, Cybill Shepherd, Madeline Kahn, Duilio Del Prete . DCP. 118 min.
The casually crisscrossing love lives of a quartet of unhappily single jet-setters in 1930s New York—Michael Oliver Pritchard III (Burt Reynolds), Brooke Carter (Cybill Shepherd), Kitty O’Kelly (Madeline Kahn), and Johnny Spanish (Duilio Del Prete)—is the subject of this unfairly denounced, Cole Porter–inspired musical. Upon its initial release, critics carped about the purported inadequacies of the cast’s singing and dancing abilities, but Bogdanovich never intended the film to recreate the crystalline perfection of an Astaire-Rogers vehicle. Songs such as “I Loved Him (But He Didn’t Love Me)” (a ravishing duet by Kahn and Shepherd) put across their singers’ disappointment in matters of the heart, and even up-tempo numbers, such as Shepherd’s “I Get a Kick Out of You,” are performed with a dash of regret. The stunning black-and-white-toned sets by production designer Gene Allen, and the distant, Otto Preminger–like long takes by cinematographer Laszlo Kovacs make it clear this is anything but a romp, as does the ineffably sad final shot of the dancing cast dissolving into a silver music box. The director’s cut isn’t quite that: This version features numerous scenes cut by Bogdanovich decades ago that were surreptitiously restored by an employee at Fox—much to the director’s delight when he learned about the changes in the early 2010s. –Peter Tonguette