February 4.

HOW TO BEAT THE HIGH COST OF LIVING. Filmways, 1980. Susan Saint James, Jane Curtin, Jessica Lange, Richard Benjamin, Eddie Albert, Cathryn Damon, Dabney Coleman, Director: Robert Scheerer. [Watched on HBO.]

   Essentially a time-waster, and I’m sorry I did. The only moral to this sad story of three suburban ladies trying to cope with double-digit-inflation seems to be that the only solution is to turn to crime. And of course, that way nobody loses but the insurance company.

   It’s supposed to be a comedy,but we have a problem right there, It’s not very funny. There are a couple of scenes worth laughing at. Unfortunately one of them — as Susan St. James tries to hold up a supermarket at the checkout counter — was spoiled by overexposure: I’d already seen it in the coming attractions.

   (One of my favorite spots on HBO, by the way — the best way tp id out which movies to avoid. It didn’t work this time.)

   Dabney Coleman, who was superb as Dolly Parton’s lecherous boss in Nine to Five, plays a lecherous policeman in this one, and he is superb again. Otherwise the movie is essentially Jane Curtin’s; the others are along solely for the ride.

   Rated PG, for bad language again (although not the ‘F’ word, which may be the difference) and (surprisingly) or a brief look at the conclusion of a topless strip tease act, performed admirably by Jane Curtin. (Since it was headless, too, as I recall, the body may actually have been someone else’s. Since we had already seen a panting Richard Benjamin stripped to his shorts earlier in the movie, we do know it was not his.)