A big studio flop back in the day, The Man Who Loved Women is a problematic film today, and there’s good reasons why Blake Edwards’ vehicle for Burt Reynolds is rarely seen or discussed. Few things date more quickly than sexual mores, and it’s arguable that Francois Truffaut’s original 1977 film was already obsolete by the time this remake occurred. Yet Reynolds and Edwards were coming off hot streaks, 10 was Edwards’ last big hit, and The Man Who Loved Women fails because of the unthinking hubris of the film’s makers.
The film opens, as no comedy ever should, with the funeral of the main character; literally hundreds of women rampage through the graveyard, attesting to the sexual prowess of LA sculptor David Fowler (Reynolds). We then flash back to see exactly what kind of love we’re talking about; Fowler loves legs, he loves bodies, he loves faces, so he’s a real lover of women, right? Well, actually, not; Fowler now seems like a real problem, a leech, a stalker, a man who has a juvenile view of life, and the film doesn’t do much to question that lifestyle. Instead, Edwards seems more intent on celebrating Fowler, with a slew of beautiful women (Taxi’s Marilu Henner, Kim Basinger as an insatiable Texan wife, Julia Andrews as a psychiatrist, Denise Crosby as his assistant) throwing themselves at his feet.
10 mixed middle-aged melancholy with Pink Panther-type sight-gags and pratfalls, but that formula wears thin here, as attempts at serious sexual commentary interspersed with laboured slapstick, notably Fowler gluing himself to a dog. Even worse, Fowler isn’t likeable when he talks about an ‘enduring appreciation for the women of the street’, in fact, he’s straight up repugnant in his comfortable chauvinism. The Man Who Loved Women is an interesting footnote for several big Hollywood talents, an over-ambitious folly that reveals the flaws in both men’s psyches; Edwards co-write this with his psychiatrist, while Reynolds seems to have acted several scenes in his own persona rather than his characters. This kind of self-analysis could have paid dividends, but a painful lack of self-awareness makes this a curiosity piece only.