WHY SHOULDN'T TV'S
QUEEN OF COMEDY BECOME A MAJOR MOOOOVIE STAR?
When I interviewed Carol
Burnett for The New York Times in 1977, she wasn't all that thrilled
by her movie track record, but she had high hopes for "A Wedding,"
the Robert Altman film she was about to start shooting. That comedy-drama
turned out to be a disappointment, even though Burnett's perfrormance
was strong and memorable. I think the best is yet to come. --Guy
Carol Burnett as the mother of the bride, a nouveau riche
matron nervously straining to make an elegant impression on the
equally wealthy mother of the groom. Picture her, at the peak of
her frantic posturing, turning blush-cheeked, jelly-kneed and girlish
when the magnetic stranger, who has been devouring her with his
eyes all during the wedding reception, steals over to her and huskily
whispers to her, "I want you to know Ive fallen in love
Picture that and you will know how Miss Burnett will be spending
her summer vacation, beginning June 15. Thats the day shell
scurry off to a classy Chicago suburb, and a brief encounter with
a roly-poly Casanova all part of the plot of Robert Altmans
new seriocomedy, "A Wedding."
"Theres no hanky-panky between us," Miss Burnett
said, "but I do fantasize. Its a very heavy flirtation
that frees me and shocks me, because Ive never done such a
thing before. And, to top it off, the guys married to Dina
Merrill, so hes got to be cracked. As it turns out, he does
this sort of thing all the time."
Acting in the movies is not the sort of thing Miss Burnett does
all the time. When asked to glance back 14 years to the first of
her three films a droopy Dean Martin frolic called "Whos
Been Sleeping in My Bed?" televisions foremost
funny-woman gasped and then unleashed a howl of laughter.
"Say my comment on that movie was a howl of laughter."
What about her more recent foray into film, "The Front Page"?
"Say my comment on that was a howl of laughter," she repeated.
"I didnt even want to see it because I knew I was terrible
in it, and whats the point in opening a wound? But it turned
out to be the movie showing on the plane when my husband and I were
going on vacation. I was a captive audience, unless I wanted to
jump out over Omaha. After the film, I borrowed the stewardesss
loudspeaker and said, Ladies and gentlemen, this is Carol
Burnett. I didnt know that movie was going to be shown on
this flight, and I would like to apologize. I felt so cleansed!
Then, some very nice people came up and told me they enjoyed me
in the movie, but they enjoyed me after the movie more. Actually,
I enjoyed the movie, too; I just didnt enjoy that woman who
kept running in and out of it, the one who never stopped yelling."
Any yelling Miss Burnett does next week is likely to be on the stage
of the Huntington Hartford Theater in Los Angeles, where
starting Tuesday she will be Dick Van Dykes longtime
clandestine lover in "Same Time Next Year."
"Im most comfortable when Im playing to a live
audience," she said. "We tape our television show that
way, and Im always so surprised when movie people come on
the show and say they dont think they can do it, because the
audience scares them. With me, its just the opposite. Im
scared on a movie set, playing to that camera.
"Id like to be loose and adventurous in front of the
movie camera, and not to play it so close to the vest," said
Miss Burnett, who plans to follow "A Wedding" with "Two
Gals From Topeka," a musical in which shell play Glenda
Jacksons identical twin. "After all, I go into my television
show without knowing what the heck Im doing. Thats why
Im eager to do a movie with Robert Altman, even though I havent
seen a script. From what Ive heard, he likes to work the way
I like to work. I like sticking my neck out, even if it gets chopped
off. Working with Mr. Altman will be like going to summer school.
I hope I get an A."