blame-it-on-rio

Joseph Bologna, an actor, writer and director known for his role in 1982’s “My Favorite Year” and for his long collaboration on stage and screen with wife Renee Taylor, has died after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 82.

Bologna died Sunday morning at City of Hope in Duarte, Calif. Just last month, Bologna attended a 35th anniversary screening of “My Favorite Year” in Los Angeles.

Taylor said Bologna had “a beautiful life and a beautiful death.” Bologna died two days after the couple celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary.

Bologna and Taylor co-wrote and starred in the Broadway show “Lovers and Others Strangers” in 1968. The pair earned Oscar nominations for their screenplay adaptation for the 1970 film starring Gig Young and Bea Arthur. Taylor and Bologna won a Writers Guild Award for their 1971 movie “Made For Each Other,” in which they also starred.

In all, the couple co-wrote some 22 plays and collaborated on numerous film and TV projects, including the Marlo Thomas TV special “Acts of Love and Other Comedies,” and such series as CBS’ “Calucci’s Department,” HBO’s “Bedrooms” and PBS’ “American Dream Machine.”

Bologna and Taylor were introduced by their mutual manager, Buddy Allen. The couple’s wedding was held on the stage of “The Merv Griffin Show” and featured on the talk show. Taylor noted that they renewed their vows five times over their half-century together, each time in a different religious ceremony.

A native of Brooklyn, Bologna grew up in a working-class Italian-American family and went on to serve in the Marine Corps. He then entered the advertising business in the “Mad Men” era. He directed numerous commercials before turning his focus to the stage with Taylor.

Bologna’s other film credits include 1976’s “Woman of the Year,” 1984’s “Blame It on Rio” and “The Woman in Red,” 1985’s “Transylvania 6-5000” and 1989’s “It Had to Be You.” He logged dozens of TV credits over the years, from telepics to sitcoms to dramas.

Among the notable made-fors were the 1986 miniseries “Sins” and 1983’s “One Cooks, the Other Doesn’t.” Bologna appeared opposite future “Friends” star Matt LeBlanc in the 1991 “Married With Children” spinoff “Top of the Heap” and also in the 1987-88 dramedy”Rags to Riches.” His last TV roles included guest shots on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “According to Jim” and “Everwood.”

Bologna’s last project was the upcoming film “Tango Shalom,” a comedy directed by his son, Gabriel. The elder Bologna co-wrote the screenplay with Claudio and Jos Laniado and stars alongside Taylor. The couple’s daughter, Zizi, served as music supervisor.

(Pictured: Joe Bologna and Renee Taylor)

RIP to a man who never stopped collaborating with his partner in crime in Hollywood, his wife Renee Taylor.

6

Year 1, Day 226

Movie #450: Blame It On Rio (1984)

Length: 100 minutes

Starring: Michael Caine, Joseph Bologna, Michelle Johnson, and Demi Moore

Plot: Best friends and their daughters holiday in Rio only for one to fall for the other’s daughter.

Review: This isn’t a laugh-out-loud type of comedy but it is humorous enough and that is thanks in large part to Michael Caine’s deadpan delivery. (When asked by his friend to hunt down the man who is sleeping with his daughter, Caine’s inner monologue replies “That’s like asking an arsonist to be the fire marshal.”) The premise is kind of icky - I can’t imagine finding any man that has known me since I was a baby and is close friends with my father, attractive - but hey, it made for some wacky situations. (But I think we could have all without the scene where Johnson and Moore are gallivanting topless on the beach with their fathers.)

There is no way Blame It On Rio could have been made today - the borderline incestuous relationship is just too much for today’s mainstream standards. The gratuitous nudity and uncomfortable subject matter make for an odd comedy that produces just as many winces as laughs. And yet, it is still enjoyable and entertaining.

The tacky eighties decor, colorful Brazilian beaches, and a pretty good script combine for a fun, breezy comedy. It is raunchy and borderline creepy but somehow Michael Caine makes his sleazy character work so we are laughing at him instead of judging him. I would call Blame It On Rio charming and delightful but really, there is nothing charming or delightful about a forty-something year old man having an affair with his best friend’s 18 year old daughter. So, take it for what it is - a surprisingly light, funny film that was a lot better than I expected it to be.

Rating: B-