Released on Oct. 11, 1965, The Loved One was promoted as “the motion picture with something to offend everyone.” Refined English writer Evelyn Waugh made a temporary move to “a little town called Los Angeles,” resulting in his satirical novel on which Terry Southern and Christopher Isherwood based their script. The Loved One was said to be unfilmmable, and no less a director than Luis Buñuel threw up his hands before Tony Richardson managed to tell the twisted tale of Dennis, a wide-eyed English poet (Robert Morse) who arrives in Los Angeles to visit with his old Hollywood uncle (John Gielgud). Unceremoniously let go from the studio to which he's dedicated his life, the uncle promptly commits suicide, forcing the boy into a number of horrifically funny situations as well as a romantic entanglement with naive mortuary cosmetologist Aimee Thanatogenos (Anjanette Comer). Jonathan Winters plays dual roles as a studio flunky and Rev. Wilbur Glenworthy, calculating owner of Aimee's place of work (loosely based on Forest Lawn). The Loved One also features a completely deranged Rod Steiger as head embalmer Mr. Joyboy, Paul Williams as a boy genius and Liberace as a coffin salesman, as well as cameos from the likes of Milton Berle and Chick Hearn. The darkest of black comedies, it is a litmus test, very rarely screened, and we dare not give away any more of the plot lest we scare anyone away. This American Cinematheque screening is a demented dream come true, with a moderated discussion featuring Winters, Morse and cinematographer Haskell Wexler following the film. Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd.; Sat., Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m.; $11.

Sat., Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m., 2012

LA Weekly