Tony seemed to have spelled out the end of our marriage." (Indeed, that event promptly occurred.) The commingled massive egotism and masochism in this "totally revealing picture of his life" (her words) had a similar effect on most real-life critics, a typical notice saying Newley "so overextends and overexposes himself that the movie comes to look like an act of professional suicide ... [it] is as self-indulgent as a burp."
Roger Ebert, however, thought it "strange, wonderful, original, and not quite successful," applauding its sheer nerve if nothing else. Indeed, Merkin remains such an oddity and perfect warts-and-all memorial to Newley (who died in 1999, his long, post-Merkin career slide actually highlighted by 1987's The Garbage Pail Kids Movie) that, like most spectacular follies, it commands a certain awed respect.
CAN HIERONYMUS MERKIN EVER FORGET MERCY HUMPPE AND FIND TRUE HAPPINESS?
June 4, 9:15 p.m., $7
with The Last Movie, 7 p.m.
Roxie Film Center
3117 16th St., SF