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Review: All The Fine Young Cannibals

Updated: Mar 30, 2022

Director: Michael Anderson

Writers: Rosamond Marshall (novel); Robert Thom (screenplay)

Cast: Robert Wagner; Natalie Wood; Susan Kohner; George Hamilton; Pearl Bailey; Anne Seymour; Jack Mullaney; Onslow Stevens

A young couple Chad and Sarah are tested after a series of unfortunate events and the narrative takes off as they move to find a better life.

The film meanders on with that old melodramatic pace. The screenplay is nothing spectacular and the acting is a bit extra, but these outdated elements add to the film's charm and are to be expected when watching old school cinema.

The real life couple Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner have a natural chemistry that the director could have taken more advantage of. There are quite a few examples of this movie being slightly ahead of its time. The ‘moral melodrama’ which was the stuff of cinema in its time, is evaded but the film isn’t consistent in its radicality.

One could argue that the soulful Pearl Bailey saves the film. Bailey plays Ruby, a black singer who’s mourning the loss of her lover. Chad and Ruby find solace in each other which was a brave move for a film-maker in those days, but these tensions are glanced over, never developed. Bailey remains an appendage to the film in spite her captivating potential. Inevitably, the irresistibly young and beautiful white actors take center stage.

Put simply, the film tries to do some very cool things in somewhat lousy ways. The characters are flat , the accents are horrendous and the costumes are predictable. That being said, it’s easy to underrate this film. The melodrama remains charmingly nostalgic and the story, which is by no means happy, has a more tangible representation of love than even some contemporary films.

Watch it if you’re into the real sh*t.

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