Rabbit Test (film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Joan Rivers|
|Produced by||Edgar Rosenberg|
|Edited by||Stanford C. Allen|
Laugh or Die
Melvin Simon Productions
|Distributed by||AVCO Embassy Pictures|
|April 9, 1978|
This was the only directing effort by Joan Rivers, who also plays a nurse in a brief scene, while her daughter Melissa Rivers also has a bit part. Rivers' husband, Edgar Rosenberg, was producer. It was the only theatrical feature to be scored by the team of Mike Post and Pete Carpenter. Michael Keaton made his feature film debut in a small non-speaking role.
Lionel Carpenter is a night-school teacher who has bad luck with women. He remains a virgin until his brash cousin Danny (Alex Rocco) sets him up with a one-night stand. Soon after, Lionel starts feeling nauseated and vomits, eventually doing so onto Segoynia Savaka (Joan Prather), one of his immigrant students. This turns out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gives him an excuse to ask her out on a date, and a romance develops.
When Lionel meets Segoynia's fortune-telling grandmother (played by Roddy McDowall in drag), she intuits that he is the world's first pregnant man. This results in a series of gags relating to his pregnancy and people's reactions to it. One side plot has Lionel being pursued by the army because the president of the United States is afraid of what effect the widespread ability of men to conceive will have on population growth.
In the ending sequence, which is patterned after the Nativity, Lionel finally goes into labor. The camera rises to heaven where God announces to the viewers the successful delivery: "Oh my god... it's a girl!"
The main cast includes the following:
- Billy Crystal as Lionel
- Joan Prather as Segoynia
- Alex Rocco as Danny
- Doris Roberts as Mrs. Carpenter
- Margaret Adachi as Interviewer
- Adam Anderson as Sobbing Sailor
- John Andersonio as African Chief
- Edward Ansara as Second Newscaster
- Billy Barty as Lester
- Imogene Coca as Madam Marie
- Richard Deacon as First Newscaster
- Norman Fell as Segoynia's Father
- Fannie Flagg as President's Wife
- Alice Ghostley as Nurse Tumm
- Roosevelt Grier as Taxi Driver
- George Gobel as President of the U.S.
- Paul Lynde as Dr. Roger Vidal, M.D.
- Roddy McDowall as Gypsy Grandmother/Dr. D & C Fishbine
- Sheree North as Mystery Lady
- Charles Pierce as Queen of England
- Tom Poston as Minister
- Charlotte Rae as Cousin Claire
- Jimmie Walker as Umbuto
- Michael Keaton as Sailor
- Joan Rivers as Second Nurse
- Ron Rifkin as Dr. Briscoe
According to Janet Maslin of The New York Times, "Miss Rivers has turned to directing without paying much heed to whether a whole movie constructed from one-liners is worth even the sum of its parts. In her case, it's not—and the one-liners weren't all that sparkling to begin with. When it winds up on television, which is where a movie this visually crude belonged in the first place, Rabbit Test may improve slightly: Constant commercial interruptions may help distract attention from the movie's continuity problems, which are severe. And the coarseness of its comedy may not seem so insufferable to an audience willing to sit still for Laverne and Shirley."
Joan Rivers heavily promoted the film by visiting theaters in Chicago showing the film. When she visited the Portage Theater on Chicago's northwest side, she arrived in a limo, told jokes, signed autographs, took photos with fans and received a standing ovation from theater patrons during her visit.
The film received a 1.7/10 by the judges at its 2018 screening at The Secret Cinema, surpassing Wild Rovers (2.3/10) to become the lowest rated film to be shown there.
Other "pregnant men" comedies include:
- A Slightly Pregnant Man (French: L'Événement le plus important depuis que l'homme a marché sur la Lune), a 1973 French-Italian comedy film directed by Jacques Demy
- Junior, a 1994 comedy film directed by Ivan Reitman
- Maslin, Janet (April 9, 1978). "Joan Rivers 'Rabbit Test' Film Depicts First Pregnant Man". The New York Times. Retrieved 2015-06-15.
- "Rabbit Test". Turner Classic Movies. Retrieved April 19, 2016.