Monday, April 16, 2018

X, Y, Zee & Co.

A movie I'd wanted to see for a while was Zee & Co., which was released in the States as X, Y, and Zee. TCM ran it a month ago when Elizabeth Taylor was Star of the Month, and the movie is available on DVD courtesy of the Sony/Columbia MOD scheme.

The movie starts off with opening credits superimposed over a scene of Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Caine playing a game of table tennis, sporting the sort of exaggerated facial expressions of joy that you'd see in TV commercials. Right away, this was a sign to me that we've got a movie in the "Disaster Waiting to Happen" genre. Sure enough, it's coming.

Taylor plays Zee Blakeley, the wife of Robert (Caine), an architect in London. We learn fairly quickly that it's not a particularly happy marriage. Zee spends too much, and Robert drinks and has a wandering eye for the ladies. When their friend Gladys (Margaret Leighton) throws a swanky party, Robert makes the acquaintance of dress designer Stella (Susannah York).

Margaret Leighton (l.) and Elizabeth Taylor in X, Y, and Zee

Stella is a widow with youngish twin sons, and she could use a man in her life. Robert is a man who needs a woman who's not as nuts or nasty as Zee. So of course the two are drawn to each other. And they're not exactly keeping it a secret. Zee knows fully well what's going on, and she decides that she's going to make life as difficult for Robert and Stella as possible.

The antics range from Zee making business difficult for Stella by insisting on taking somebody else's dress, all the way up to trying to slit her wrists. And on her hospital bed after the suicide attempt, she learns something she can use against Stella, setting up the spectacularly nutsy finale.

X, Y, and Zee is one of those movies that's terrible because of how screwed up the story is, to the point that there are a lot of times you'll want to laugh at how ludicrous it all is. The characters deliver a bunch of tawdry one-liners, all while bathed in a production design that takes the style of the era and says let's turn it up to 11. Taylor's hair would be spectacularly bad if it weren't that she's easily outdone by Leighton in her two scenes. Taylor has to settle for that horrid eye make-up, as well as the opportunity to chew every bit of scenery in London.

X, Y, and Zee isn't very good, but it's a movie everybody should watch once for how hilariously off the rails it goes.

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