Ira Levin wrote the stage comedy Critic's Choice as a good-natured retort to a comment made by critic Walter Kerr. In his essay How Not to Write a Play, Kerr noted that the worst possible scenario would involve a drama critic forced to review a play written by his wife (we should mention that Kerr's own wife was noted playwright Jean Kerr). Levin utilized this very scenario, and the result was a Broadway hit. Less successful artistically was the 1962 film version, though with Bob Hope and Lucille Ball as stars, the film couldn't help but clean up at the box office. Hope portrays theatrical critic Parker Ballantine, while Lucille Ball plays his wife Angela. Feeling "useless," Angela writes a play as a lark, then is amazed when it is optioned by a major producer. Parker does his best to get out of the responsibility of reviewing the play (which very well may be as bad as he thinks it is), but cannot escape the responsibility. Much of the verbal wit of the Levin original is sacrificed in favor of one-line quips; there is also an overabundance of gratuitous slapstick during a little-league game and the climactic "opening night" sequence. Still, Hope and Ball work together well as always.
by Hal Erickson synopsis