1979’s ’10’ Movie: Does it Hold Up?

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Bo Derek on the beach in 10 (Photo: Orion/Warner Bros/Kobal/REX/Shutterstock)

It’s a well-worn plot device: a man, going through a mid-life crisis, becomes infatuated with a much-younger woman. They date and come to realize that their age difference is a barrier that can’t be overcome. The man reconciles with his forgiving wife (or longtime girlfriend) and they live happily ever after.

Such was the case, sort of, with 1979’s romantic comedy, 10. The film starred Dudley Moore, just 44-years-old when it was released, opposite newcomer Bo Derek, who was only 22 in her breakout role.

The film was directed and written by Blake Edwards, whose wife, Julie Andrews, co-starred as Moore’s actress girlfriend. (She, too, was just 44 when it was released on October 5, 1979.)

The pedigree was there: Edwards was an extremely successful filmmaker, perhaps best known as the director of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Days of Wine and Roses, and the Pink Panther movies.

For Moore, 10 also proved to be a breakout role as a leading man. The English actor had been mostly known until then for his comic collaborations with partner Peter Cook. (Moore had just enjoyed a scene-stealing role in 1978’s comedy-thriller Foul Play.)

And then there was Bo Derek. When Moore’s character first sees her, she’s dressed in a bridal gown on the way to her wedding. He follows her there, disrupting the ceremony with a series of bumbling, physical comedy. “She was the most beautiful girl I have ever seen,” he confesses.

His mid-life crisis in full swing, Moore gets on a plane to the newlyweds’ honeymoon spot in Mexico. When he sees Derek, she’s in the iconic swim suit, her hair in cornrows, running effortlessly on the beach.

While in Mexico, Moore, an accomplished musician, is able to showcase his piano playing skills. (That’s the late actor Brian Dennehy as the hotel bartender in the scene.)

When Derek’s new husband falls asleep on his surfboard, it’s Moore who somehow rescues him. When the husband, conveniently, is hospitalized, it’s time for Moore to step in. He and Derek dine together and, improbably,  get in bed accompanied by every 22-year-old’s favorite music to make love to, Ravel’s Bolero.

Watch the 10 trailer

10 was a resounding success at the box-office, earning nearly $75 million, placing it among 1979’s top pictures.

Watch a scene where Moore demonstrates his comedic chops

Moore, born April 19, 1935, had several more leading roles, including 1981’s Arthur for which he was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor. In 1997, it was discovered that he had brain damage and by 1999, the condition caused a type of palsy. In 2001, he was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, attending the ceremony in a wheelchair. He died on March 27, 2002, at 66.

While Mary Collins was in high school, she began dating actor-director John Derek, who was 30 years her senior. They married in 1976, shortly before her 20th birthday. She was nominated for a Golden Globe for her performance in 10. In the ensuing years, she “won” the Golden Raspberry Award for her roles in such movies as Tarzan, the Ape Man and Tommy Boy. She and John Derek remained married until he died in 1998.

Related: Our appreciation of 1995’s road comedy, Tommy Boy

In 2004, Edwards received an Honorary Academy Award. Andrews was by his side when he died in 2010.

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