Adopting a variety of disguises and accents, washed-up theater actor and owner Christopher Gill (Steiger) has a new hobby: murdering lonely middle-aged New York women in their apartments. Gill even makes a game of phoning Jewish detective Moe Brummell (Segal) with helpful tips. But the cat-and-mouse dynamic gets personal when Gill targets Brummell's girlfriend Kate (Remick).
Smight's jet-black serial-killer comedy, based on William Goldman's novel, gets a lot of mileage out of its main theme: the tortured relationship between mothers and sons. The killer has an abiding Freudian hatred of his, of course, which motivates his cold-blooded spree. And Brummell lives with a stereotypically hen-pecking Jewish mother (a fabulous Eileen Heckart) who has nothing good to say about her boy, his profession, or his goyim girlfriend. The film excels, however, on the strength of Steiger's hammy portrayal of the flamboyantly egotistical murderer, whose costumes are as odd as his pinched demeanor. Both romantic co-leads shine as well. Funny and macabre in equal measure, "Lady" also offers a pungent '60s flavor.