''The Object of Beauty,'' currently showing at the Charles, was made for those who enjoy the kind of comedies Hollywood did in the late '30s and early '40s.
Michael Lindsay-Hogg, son of actress Geraldine Fitzgerald, wrote and directed the film, one whose principal characters are an American con man and his companion, an American con woman.
These two are up to their evening clothing in debt. They can't leave the London hotel they are staying in because they owe too much. Which, of course, doesn't stop them from spending more and more and putting it on the bill.
They're not very noble people, but they are good company, partly because they are played so well by John Malkovich and Andie MacDowell.
MacDowell, who has a difficult time finding the right kind of role, finds it here. She was made to play this part. In a word, she is terrific. She still says ''neeooo'' for new, but here, somehow, it sounds right.
Malkovich, who has done this thing before, is nicely cast as Jake, a young man of 35 who has all his money tied up in a shipment of cocoa that may never make it to shore.
Both stars have good lines; both deliver them with style, and if the film sags a bit, it does so only occasionally.
For the most part, ''The Object of Beauty'' is an object of humor, and most of it is very smart.
The title refers to an art piece, a small bronze which was given Tina (MacDowell) by her first husband. It is worth some $40,000 and because she and Jake (Malkovich) need the money, she suggests that they say it is stolen and collect the insurance. When the figure is really stolen, by a deaf chambermaid, Tina thinks Jake has taken it, and he thinks she has taken it.
The police become involved. So does an insurance investigator, and one of the very nice things about this film is that nothing is overdone.
Lolita Davidovich is Joan, good friend to Jake and Tina. Rudi Davies is Jenny, the girl who steals the figure, Joss Ackland is manager of the hotel in which Jake and Tina are staying, and Peter Riegert is Larry, Tina's estranged husband.
''The Object of Beauty,'' filmed in England, is easy on the eyes and the mind. It is playing at the Charles through June 5.
''The Object of Beauty'' *** Jake and Tina, Americans living in London, have spent their last pound and hope to secure their future by selling a small bronze.
CAST: John Malkovich, Andie MacDowell, Joss Ackland, Rudi Davies, Lolita Davidovich, Peter Riegert
DIRECTOR: Michael Lindsay-Hogg
RATING: R (sex, nudity, language)
RUNNING TIME: 101 minutes