S.O.B. (Standard Operational Bullshit) (1981) Warner Archive Blu-ray

I always thought the S.O.B. in the title stood for son-of-a-bitch, and it still could since the main character certainly is a SOB, as well as the majority of the other characters, but at the end one of the characters says “standard operational bullshit” when he’s summing up everything that’s happened in relation to who’s going to the main character’s funeral in the final act, and knowing the kinds of comedies Blake Edwards made this is most likely what the title means.

Normally I cannot stand movies about the inner workings of Hollywood, but I make an exception for this one because it’s a Blake Edwards comedy, plus it came out when I was a kid, and you know how influential and memorable movies are in that time of your life. I became familiar with Blake Edwards through his Pink Panther movies and it was A Shot In The Dark (1964) that started my introduction. I vividly remember when I saw S.O.B, even though it’s a movie that hasn’t crossed my mind in decades. In fact it wasn’t until I became aware of this blu that I thought about it. I saw it during those early years when the family first got cable and I think I liked it. I can’t remember exactly how I felt about it back then, but I remember watching it a couple of times. Revisiting it now in my late 40s it’s not too bad. It’s certainly not as comedic as Edwards’ Panther flicks, but it’s got that nostalgic factor smeared all over it that had me smiling through most of the movie. It’s weird to watch a movie from my childhood now where most of the cast is dead, and for a Gen-X’r like myself this movie is chock full of famous faces.

S.O.B. is about a mega-successful producer named, Felix Farmer, played by Richard Mulligan (Soap, Empty Nest), who doesn’t have any lines until the 44-minute mark. He’s in the movie, but in a drugged suicidal state because he’s newest film, Night Wind, tanked heavily at the box office, so he figures death is the only way to fix everything. He attempts suicide four times, the first by carbon monoxide, the second by hanging, the third by shoving his head in the oven and the fourth by gun. It’s not until he tries to blow his brains out during an orgy birthday party at his home that he finally comes back to reality and decides the best way to fix his movie is to turn it into a big budget porno! In reality it ends up being a soft-core one.

SOB’s opening credits are overlaid on a musical number we come to find out later is the ending of Night Wind, which stars Farmer’s actress wife (and Blake Edwards’ real life wife), Sally Miles (Julie Andrews). But first Farmer has to get his hands on his own movie, so he buys it back from David Blackman (Robert Vaughn), the president of Capital Studios. Once that’s done he gets Mile’s people that inlcudes Eva Brown (Shelly Winters), her agent, and her lawyer, Herb Maskowitz, to convince her reshooting it as a soft-core porn will be good for her career and make her a shit-ton of money. You see Miles is best known for doing G-rated movies, much like the actress who portrays her is. I remember this movie being kind of a big deal because it’s the one where Julie Andrews, best known for the G-rated musicals The Sound Of Music (1965) and Mary Poppins (1964), showed off her tits! This happens during an erotic re-do of that final musical number.

Farmer’s three closest “friends,” Tim Culley (William Holden), director of Night Wind, Dr. Irving Finegarten (Robert Preston) and Ben Coogan, Sally’s press agent, are the funniest in the movie. I had totally forgotten Farmer dies, he gets shot by police when he goes to the studio and holds some guy hostage as he tried to get the prints of his movie back after Sally screwed him midway through the movie and the film ends up back in the possession of Capital Studios. I was shocked by that, Edwards killed off his main character?! But the film doesn’t end there; it goes on for roughly another 20-minutes as the funeral becomes the main focus and Farmer’s three friends decide it isn’t a good enough send off. So, they break into the funeral home, steal his corpse and give him a Viking funeral. The movie ends with a pre-end credits crawl that tells us Farmer’s new Night Wind did indeed become a big hit.

Before-she-was-famous Roseanna Arquette shows up in the beginning playing a hitchhiker; she also has a topless scene. Larry Storch (F-Troop, Without Warning) makes a cameo as this old, bearded guru who talks at the funeral and Corbin Bernsen (L.A. Law) is credited as “surfer at the beach.” I didn’t even recognize him. Loretta Swit (M*A*S*H) and Larry Hagman (I Dream Of Jeannie, Dallas) have small roles too, the former playing a gossip columnist and the latter as a Capital Studios executive.

Warner Brothers had this out on DVD back in 2002, and back on March 7th they have now released it on blu-ray through there Warner Archives banner! Buy it here on Amazon!

Video/Audio/Subtitles: 1080p 2.40:1 high definition widescreen—2.0 English DTS-HD Master Audio—English SDH subs only

The transfer looks great!

Extras included . . .

  • Trailer


About Shawn Francis

Movie collector and horror writer.
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