Peter Bogdanovich’s They All Laughed makes for strange viewing, often feeling as if taking place on the sidelines of a more substantive movie that’s screening somewhere else – an inordinate amount of the viewing time consists of people getting in and out of cabs or buildings, or following other people on the street, or signaling to others who they should follow, with the human stories at the centre of all this busy intrigue ultimately revealed as being so slight that they hardly register at all. Aspects of Bogdanovich’s vision are rather sweet – his people make immediate connections, whether as friends or more than that, spontaneously applying nicknames and developing lines of patter with others they just met; the flip side though is a feeling of utter arbitrariness and disposability, in which it’s hard to take any expression of real feeling or emotion seriously, or to know whether that’s even intended. The notional plot has Ben Gazzara, John Ritter (whose relentless tripping and bumping and general klutziness is the main source of physical comedy) and Blaine Novak as three detective agency employees working on two surveillance cases on behalf of suspicious husbands; Audrey Hepburn and Dorothy Stratten are the targets. Stratten is merely blank, regardless of what tragic resonance her presence might in theory have carried, and Hepburn is strangely and frustratingly underused, barely conceived as a character, and seemingly held by Bogdanovich at arm’s length. The film isn’t without a certain panache, but it barely contains, much less evokes, even isolated and scattered laughter, let alone the sustained collective enthusiasm of the title. Talking of which, the fact that the title song is among several Frank Sinatra songs heard just fleetingly in the background (seemingly in evocation of bygone classiness), in contrast to the foregrounded prominence of some grindingly undistinguished country numbers, is just another peculiarity.