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Film: S.O.B.

S.O.B. is a 1981 American film written and directed by Blake Edwards starring Richard Mulligan and Julie Andrews. Also appearing are Robert Preston, Robert Vaughn, Larry Hagman, Shelley Winters, Loretta Swit, Robert Webber and, in his last movie appearance, William Holden.

It is perhaps most remembered for being "the film where Julie Andrews appears topless".

The story is a satire of the film industry and Hollywood society. The main character, Felix Farmer, is a phenomenally successful producer who has just made the first flop of his career, to the dismay of the studio and the loss of his own sanity. Felix attempts suicide several times:

First, he attempts to die of carbon monoxide poisoning in his car, only to have it slip into gear and drive through the side of his garage, down a sand dune and ending up in the Pacific Ocean.

Secondly, he turns on the gas in the kitchen oven, but is prevented from carrying out his intent by two house guests with other things on their mind.

Thirdly, he attempts to hang himself from a rafter in an upstairs bedroom, only to fall through the floor, landing on a poisonous Hollywood gossip columnist standing in the living room below.

Thereafter he spends most of the time heavily sedated while his friends and hangers-on occupy his beach house. The occupation leads to a party which degenerates into an orgy.

Finally, he tries to shoot himself with a police officer's gun but is prevented from doing so by the ministrations of a sweet young thing in a pair of panties, and experiences a revelation of what was missing from his movie - Free Love!

Newly energized, Felix resolves to save both the film and his reputation. With great difficulty he persuades the studio and his wife Sally Miles, an Oscar-winning movie star with a goody-goody image, to allow him to revise the film into a soft-core pornographic musical in which she must appear topless. He liquidates most of his wealth to buy the existing footage and to bankroll further production. If he fails, both he and Sally will be impoverished, at least by Hollywood standards.

At first the studio is keen to unload the film onto Felix and move on, but as it becomes apparent that it will be a success, they plot to regain control. Using California's community property laws, they get the distribution and final-cut rights by persuading Sally to sign them over. Felix then tries to get the movie negatives from the studio's color lab vault, armed with a water pistol, and is shot by police who think it is a real pistol.

Felix's untimely and violent death creates yet another crisis, particularly for his cronies Culley, Coogan and Dr. Finegarten, who plan to give him a burial at sea. They kidnap his corpse, substituting the body of a well-known but underrated character actor who died in the first scene of the movie, having a heart attack while jogging on the beach in front of Felix's home. Felix gets a Viking funeral, being sent out to sea in a burning dinghy, while the actor finally gets the Hollywood burial many thought he deserved.

The epilogue later reveals that the revamped film was a huge success, and Sally won another Academy Award for her performance. "And everyone lived happily ever after..."

S.O.B. contains examples of:

  • Brutal Honesty: Tim Culley asks Felix Farmer "Have I ever lied to you?" and Felix replies "No". Tim goes on to say "Well I have, repeatedly. But the fact that I just admitted I have lied to you in the past means you can believe me now".
  • Bungled Suicide: Felix makes multiple attempts to kill himself only to have each of them unintentionally thwarted.
  • Bury Me Not on the Lone Prairie: The central characters decide Felix deserves better than a Hollywood funeral full of phonies, so they steal his body from the funeral home and give him a Viking burial (put on a burning boat and sent out to sea).
  • Fanservice: That's a young Rosanna Arquette topless. And in-universe, Felix wants Sally to do this in the movie. (It's hardly a spoiler to say that she does.)
  • The Fun in Funeral: The Viking funeral scene at the end.
  • Horrible Hollywood: The title is an abbreviation the term one character uses to describe how Hollywood operates: Standard Operational Bullshit.
  • Porn with Plot: The Show Within a Show is a softcore version. We don't get to see much of the actual sex (since S.O.B. is rated R), but we do (briefly) get to see Julie Andrews' boobiesnote . In-universe, she's doing the show in an attempt to break from her wholesome-girl typecasting; apparently she's basically playing herself.
  • Suicide by Cop: Felix kidnaps a security guard using a water pistol and forces a movie film he wants to take to be brought out of storage. Confronted by the police, he points the pistol at them, and he is shot and killed.
  • Title Drop: It is explained in the movie that S.O.B. stands for "standard operational bullshit".
  • Viking Funeral: Felix's body is sent out to sea on a burning dinghy.
  • Wrong Insult Offence:
    Polly Reed: You're gonna let that SHYSTER on?
    Dr. Irving Finegarten: I could sue you for calling me that, Polly! A shyster is a disreputable lawyer. I'M a QUACK!


"...until the next movie!"
SNKShort TitlesSOE
Shock TreatmentFilms of the 1980sStripes

alternative title(s): SOB
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