The documentary, Take My Nose … Please, is a riff on comedian Henny Youngman’s one- liner, “Take My Wife, please,” is a compelling, comprehensive documentary from first time director, Joan Kron, at age 89 – although to be fair she started it at age 85. This, after a successful quarter-century career as a plastic surgery columnist. This time around, unsurprisingly, the joke centers around the more contemporary subject of the joke is plastic surgery; the comedians are put front and center stage because of their habit of “mining their bodies for laughs.”
Kron and her lively, sophisticated graphics and film team, including editor Nancy Novack, created such a far-reaching, comprehensive, highly entertaining historic documentary that is compelling and informative.
However, former journalist Kron, chose to tuck in the historic documentary as fast-paced commentary bits, including her own story at the very end. Instead she highlights the lives, careers, and potential surgeries of two “funny girls.” It should have been the other way around.
For example, about the most fascinating segment of the film, and its most convincing empowerment argument, is the one on Madame Noël, a feminist pioneer in plastic surgery in early-20th century France.
Madame Suzanne Noël’s invention of a “petite opération” was designed to help working-class women, who could be fired at the first signs of aging, to keep their jobs. She was the first and most famous woman to practice cosmetic surgery. This story on its own would have made a fascinating film, documentary or fictionalized.
When the narrator on the screen mentioned not only that the surgery was inexpensive but it was done so easily and quickly, the ladies were ready to go home that every home, after a soothing cup of coffee (as shown below), there was an audible collectible sigh in the audience. Including me.
True, Deepak Chopra instructed personal “story” to be the center of every non-fiction book or film, which it seems these days are blockbuster, documentaries or biopicsof sorts,). But a writer’s rule of thumb (sorry, not a nose) is that you have to relate and pull for the protagonists.
I would rather have seen so much more of Joan. No nonsense, Joan, who looks absolutely fantastic, is the star of this film. Pure and simple it is Joan Kron, the 89-year-old director. Can you just hear a producer call out, “I need a young Iris Apfel — get me Joan Kron.” I want to be Joan Kron when I grow up.
The Substance of Style book author Virginia Postrel wrote about comediennes as the first group to “own up” to their dissatisfaction with their looks and the first and loudest to proclaim their decisions to have surgery. And the earlier ones were the funniest and the boldest and the most relatable.
Funny Girl vaudeville star Fanny Brice was open about her surgery at a time when it was not even discussed in public. The self-proclaimed homely Jewish stage star, rose to fame amidst glamorous Ziegfeld girls, the most beautiful in the world. She was perfectly fine with revealing her story of rhinoplasty surgery to a reporter and it appeared on the front page of the New York Times preparing for a nose job. The process was relatively new.
To this end it would have been fascinating to hear a quote from Barbra Strisand who played Fanny Brice in the film, “Funny Girl.”
Kron’s protagonists are rather whiny “funny girls” do not have a laugh-out-loud presence. They were not anyone I could root – especially since both had attractive, loving, super husbands! One of them concluded that her surgery was about “self-love. ” And that about sums it up.
The fabulous Margaret Cho sums it up in one sentence; “brainwashing, mutilation, and manipulation of women – “I’m still gonna get it,
In comparison, the comediennes of old, from laugh-out-loud Fanny Brice, Phyllis Diller, Joan Rivers and Totie Fields to Roseanne Barr and Kathy Griffin were a bunch of “menshes” in comparison.
One reporter asked what happened to Phyllis Miller after she stopped doing an act about her looks. I’m here to tell you that until her dying day in her 90’s, she was having a ball, laughing and drinking and trading play insults with Betty White at the now-closed Chez Mimi in Los Angeles.
Distributor: Parvenu Ventures
Production company: Parvenu Ventures
With: Jackie Hoffman, Emily Askin, Lisa Lampanelli, Judy Gold, Julie Halston, Giulia Rozzi
Director: Joan Kron
Producers: Joan Kron, Brian David Cange, W. Wilder Knight II
Executive producers: Bill Scheft, Adrianne Tolsch
Director of photography: Damon Bundschuh
Editor: Nancy Novack
Composer: David Cieri
No rating, 99 minutes