George Peppard (Newman’s Law) and Mary Tyler Moore (Thoroughly Modern Millie) star in this infectious comedy from director George Seaton (Miracle on 34th Street). Pete (Peppard) and Liz (Moore) live a cynical existence as part of a beatnik commune in a New York City loft. One day, the loft receives an unexpected visitor—a wayward toucan carrying a highly contagious virus that causes intense feelings of happiness and kindness in anyone affected by it! Pete catches the virus and soon an outbreak of euphoria spreads throughout the city like wildfire. But happiness threatens a society that thrives on misery, so the government sends professional problem-solver J. Gardner Monroe (Dom DeLuise, Spaceballs), who arrives wearing a space helmet, to save the good people of New York. Co-starring John McMartin (Sweet Charity), Nathaniel Frey (Damn Yankees), Charles Lane (Papa’s Delicate Condition), Susan Saint James (P.J.), Don Stroud (Coogan’s Bluff) and Thelma Ritter (Daddy Long Legs), this sweet-natured, side-splitting satire poses the question: What’s So Bad About Feeling Good?
As embodied by Alan Bates, Butley falls back on the surgically precise wit and savage eloquence that helped put him in his current circumstances in the first place. The blitzkrieg of vitriolic commentary with which Butley engages lovers, students, rivals, and allies, all with equal ferocity, becomes a glass bottom boat illuminating the churning depths of his bankrupted soul. Acclaimed playwright Harold Pinter, in what Time Magazine hailed as “a quite superior directorial debut,” turns author Simon Gray’s single-set, dialogue driven stage play into an irresistible dynamic visual experience that tracks Bates’ hilarious and fearless performance with cunning precision.
Bates and an expert supporting cast, including OscarÃ‚Â® winner Jessica Tandy (Driving Miss Daisy), joust with a sly, self-referencing wit and an unselfconscious exuberance that is breathtaking. With every verbal parry and valedictory flourish of wordplay, Butley’s life becomes more of an inescapable bear trap of thwarted ambition, clandestine affection, and squandered brilliance.