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Film / The Woman in Red

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"Two women waiting for me in the middle of the night. Crazy as it seems... I had adventure in my life."
Teddy Pierce

The Woman in Red is a 1984 Romantic Comedy film written and directed by Gene Wilder, who stars along with Kelly LeBrock (in her film debut), Gilda Radner, and Charles Grodin. It is an English-language remake of the 1976 French film Un éléphant ça trompe énormément, also known as Pardon Mon Affaire, and owes a great debt to The Seven Year Itch.

The plot centers around Teddy (Wilder), a Happily Married advertising executive in San Francisco who, while leaving work one day, sees Charlotte (LeBrock), a beautiful model in a red dress, walk over an air vent, causing her skirt to blow up before she puts it back down. She starts walking away, then changes her mind and walks back to the air vent and dances on it as the wind blows up her skirt. Teddy spends the bulk of the movie pursuing her, even attempting to learn how to ride a horse, all while keeping his wife, Didi (Judith Ivey), in the dark.

The film won the Academy Award for Best Song for Stevie Wonder's "I Just Called to Say I Love You."

"The Woman in Red, the Woman in Red, like fine wine her tropes are going straight to my head":

  • Abhorrent Admirer: Due to a mistaken identity over the phone, the dumpy-looking Ms. Milner thinks that Teddy is interested in her and becomes obsessed with him. When she thinks that Teddy stood her up, she turns into a vindictive stalker.
  • Actor-Shared Background: Kelly LeBrock, a former model, plays a model here.
  • The Alleged Car: Teddy is frustrated with the windshield wipers and wonders aloud what he would do if he had a date.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Basically the point of the story. This was even acknowledged in the tagline on the original poster.
    Be very careful of what you want... Because you just might get it.
  • Bedroom Adultery Scene: Teddy is about to have sex with Charlotte when she gets a call from her husband to say he's come home early. He then has to hide outside on the window ledge to avoid them being caught together, with people below mistaking him for suicidal. They can then be heard having sex inside by Teddy.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Teddy telling the stable keeper (and later Charlotte) that he'd been riding horses since he was a boy, while being unable to even successfully mount the horse or control it.
    • Also, Teddy not telling Charlotte that he's married.
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: Mentioned on the original poster.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Charlotte's robe is lying on the bed.
  • Closet Shuffle: Teddy hides from Charlotte's husband on the ledge.
  • Cool Car: The limousine Teddy and Charlotte ride in to her apartment.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Teddy's awkwardness, his childish Blatant Lies, and his outwardly innocent appearance and demeanor ultimately win him over as a love (or at least lust) interest to Charlotte.
  • Foreign Remake: Seen as the film that initiated the trend of Hollywood remaking French films.
  • Gay Best Friend: Buddy is gay. He's also best friends with Teddy, Joey and Mikey. Unlike many examples though, he acts no different from them, and doesn't dispense "sage advice" etc.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Didi, Teddy's wife, describes herself as a "very jealous woman."
  • Hollywood Midlife Crisis: Teddy's opening narration says that everything had been completely normal in his life until he saw Charlotte. From that point forward, his life is thrown into chaos as he is trying everything he can think of to be able to have sex with Charlotte without his wife finding out.
  • Horsing Around: Teddy tries horseback riding with Charlotte.
  • How We Got Here: The film starts with Teddy in Charlotte's husband's robe out on the window ledge after he came home two days early.
  • Hypocrite: Teddy's wife Didi talks about how jealous and vindictive she would be if Teddy were ever unfaithful. Meanwhile, she's having sex with a punk teenage boy behind Teddy's back.
  • Lady in Red: It is right there in the title. The first thing Charlotte is seen wearing is a red dress (with red panties), and the last thing she is seen wearing is the red robe.
  • Likes Older Women: The punk is interested in Didi.
  • Lover's Ledge: The film is a Whole Episode Flashback showing why Gene Wilder is on a ledge in a woman's bathrobe as a crowd gathers below. They think he's a jumper.
  • Marilyn Maneuver: Charlotte famously does this on the air vent.
  • Mistaken for Suicidal: Teddy is thought to be considering jumping off the ledge he's been forced onto as a place he can hide since Charlotte's husband came back early.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Charlotte, of course, famously doing a Marilyn Maneuver on the air vent. There's a later scene where on taking off her sweater and camisole, where she's seen nude from the side and back. Afterward there's a scene where she grabs a sheet for modesty to cover up her breasts when her husband comes home, but is balanced when her lower half is exposed, showing pubic hair briefly.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Averted. Charlotte grabs the sheet to cover up her breasts, but her lower half is exposed briefly when she gets out of bed.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Charlotte is never shown topless from the front, which is balanced by the scene of pubic hair when Charlotte frantically gets out of bed when her husband comes home. There is a shot of her butt as well.
  • Obfuscating Disability: The guys have a regular "blind man" prank where one who pretends that he's blind goes into a restaurant or shop and acts helpless. It's more than a bit cringe-worthy watching this now, and likely wouldn't be put in a film three decades on.
  • Only Sane Man: At what turns out to be Teddy's birthday party, where Charlotte discovers Teddy had been lying to her, his friends make the save by telling him about Joey breaking down (see Wounded Gazelle Gambit below) since Teddy is "the voice of reason."
  • Pop-Star Composer: Stevie Wonder collaborated with composer John Morris on the film's soundtrack, with the film's soundtrack album consisting entirely of Wonder's contributions (he even wrote featured vocalist Dionne Warwick's solo song on the album).
  • The Quincy Punk: Teddy's daughter's date has the classic look, complete with mohawk.
  • Remake Cameo: The pilot in the photo of Charlotte's husband is actually Jean-Loup Dabadie, one of the writers of Un éléphant ça trompe énormément.
  • Romantic Comedy: It is about a man pursuing a woman, and has a soundtrack by Stevie Wonder.
  • Running Gag: Ms. Milner (Gilda Radner) constantly attacking Teddy's car.
  • Sex Comedy: Well, one of its most famous scenes involves seeing up a woman's dress and seeing her naked in her bedroom.
  • Sideboob: Charlotte displays this, after taking off her sweater and camisole, meaning she is down to only panties, before she gets in bed.
  • Straight Gay: Buddy (Charles Grodin), who is gay but basically acts not very differently from Joey or Mikey.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Charlotte is shown naked from the back after taking off everything aside from her panties before getting into bed with Teddy.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Or rather, hot mistress. While calling him ugly would be going too far, Teddy isn't exactly handsome, and one would think that somebody like Charlotte would be completely out of his league.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: Joey pulls one, acting like he's going crazy and saying that he needs to kill his wife as a way for he, Buddy, and Mikey to get Teddy to Charlotte's photo shoot.