The period from the late 1960s to early 1970s was one of filmmaking’s most adventurous eras. Films that were unthinkable a few years earlier were being made by filmmakers ready to test the new “permissiveness” of the ratings system. Unfortunately, a number of these films were made for short-lived production companies and have subsequently drifted into obscurity.
Such is the case with Something for Everyone, a pitch-black black comedy that marked the film-directing debut of Broadway’s legendary Harold Prince, who only directed one subsequent film. Stage directors usually fall into one of two categories when they turn filmmaker — they either discover a wonderland of possibilities to tell a story the stage never afforded them, or they handle the whole thing like canned theatre. Prince, oddly, did neither, and ended up crafting a perfectly competent film that effectively apes the prevailing style of the time without offering anything distinctive.
The material, on the other hand, is nothing if not distinctive — something like a highly sexualized variant on Ealing Studios’ 1949 classic comedy, Kind Hearts and Coronets. Michael York plays a young man who is determined to have a castle that’s like the one in his childhood storybook. Indeed, he’s so determined that, like the anti-hero of Kind Hearts and Coronets, murder is very much an option. But so is seducing and sleeping with anyone — male or female — who will lead him to his goal. Before the film is over, he’s managed to sleep with a goodly portion of the cast.
The film is quite cold-hearted and erotic (a deft accomplishment considering the scarcity of actual nudity), but it’s also surprisingly multi-layered in its depiction of characters shaped by their respective eras. Bitterly funny, occasionally brilliant and always compelling, Something for Everyone deserves to be better remembered than it is.
– reviewed by Ken Hanke