Sunday, January 28, 2007

Films of Michael Caine #54: Surrender

Cast: Sally Field (Daisy), Michael Caine (Sean), Steve Guttenberg (Marty), Peter Boyle (Jay), Jackie Cooper (Ace), Julie Kavner (Ronnie), Louise Lasser (Joyce), Iman (Hedy), Michael Andrews (Hooker).

Crew: Jerry Belson (director), Aaron Spelling and Alan Greisman (producers), Jerry Belson (writer), Michel Colombier (music), Juan Ruiz Anchia (cinematography), Wendy Greene Bricmont (editor), Lilly Kilvert (production design).

Synopsis: Sean Stein is a best-selling author who can’t trust women after losing much of his earnings to his ex-wife and a former lover in court. Daisy Morgan is an assembly-line painter who dreams of becoming an artist. She is disenchanted with her boyfriend, a selfish but rich lawyer, Marty. When armed robbers force guests at a charity party to strip naked, Sean and Daisy are tied together. Next morning Marty flies off to a case in a third world country. Smitten with Daisy, Sean persuades her to go on a date.

The rich writer claims he is broke, to discover if Daisy will love him for something other than his money. The pair fall for each other. Marty returns, a changed man after being held captive by pygmies. He is ready to commit to Daisy. She dumps Sean but goes back to him after discovering he is rich. They decide to get married, but Sean wants Daisy to sign a pre-nuptial agreement. She wins $2 million at a casino. Sean has an epiphany, realising he is to blame for his problems, not women. Daisy decides love is more important than money. She and Sean are reunited…


Comedy writer Jerry Belson had won awards for his TV work, but struck out with his feature film directorial debut, Jekyll & Hyde… Together Again (1982). Five years later he returned to the big screen as writer/director of the romantic comedy Surrender (1987). The script lured double Oscar-winning actress Sally Field back to work after two years. It also caught the eye of Caine. ‘I’ve always wanted to be in a real American screwball romantic comedy like they used to make before the war,’ he told the Scotsman newspaper in 1987. ‘I didn’t want any concessions made to me as an Englishman, just to be accepted as an American star in an American comedy.’

Caine enjoyed his time on the picture, naming Field as one of the best actresses he has worked with. They had co-starred in the ill-fated disaster movie Beyond the Poseidon Adventure (1979). ‘The great thing was to work with Sally and have a relationship with her which was so easy, playing off each other. I can only remember having that sort of relationship with one person before, Sean Connery. It’s the happiest I’ve been with a picture for along time … I think it will be the biggest box office hit I have done.’

But Surrender was a flop when released in American cinemas during October 1987, rated PG. Critics were unimpressed and it grossed less than $6 million. There was also a backlash against the film in AIDS-conscious America because Caine and Field’s characters had sex on their first date. ‘The reaction was: how shocking, how irresponsible,’ Caine told the Daily Mirror a month after the movie opened in America. ‘Over there people are having blood tests before they even consider going on a first date. I’m middle aged. It’s a problem that hasn’t really affected my generation.’

The picture reached Britain, rated PG. It was released on video in 1988 but has since been deleted. Surrender has yet to make its DVD debut.

Reviews: ‘Surrender is an astonishing case of a movie that can do no wrong for its first half and little right thereafter.’ – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
‘A 1950s sitcom dressed up in modern clothes. Michael Caine and Sally Field are good for a couple of laughs along the way, but production runs out of steam early.’ – Variety

Verdict: Surrender is like a postcard from the 1980s, a romantic comedy featuring only venal, self-obsessed characters. TV veteran Belson’s script probably looked hilarious on the page, but it runs out of gas after 45 minutes. During the first half of the film, Caine and Field sustain this limited material with the lightest of touches. But as soon as Steve Guttenberg reappears on the screen, love triangle dynamics overpower any attempt at sustaining or developing characterisation. By the finale, when the leads renounce their money-grubbing ways for love, you just don’t care about them anymore. Don’t bother with Surrender unless you enjoy seeing two talented actors wasted on a trite, wafer-thin script.

1 comment:

Thomas Blaschke said...

Who ever said this movie runs out of gas after 45 mins. It's no ones place to decide on chunking it! I want it on DVDs. And I'm sure the public want it if they give it a chance to be seen! Sally was awesome in this film!