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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Top Secret Affair (1957)

The powerful owner (Susan Hayward) of a publishing empire resents it when a U.S. Army General (Kirk Douglas) is appointed to a government position she had hoped to go to a personal friend. So she invites the General to her country house for the weekend, ostensibly to do an in depth interview for her magazine but in reality, a hatchet job to destroy his reputation. Very loosely based on the novel by John P. Marquand (creator of the Asian detective, Mr. Moto), the film is a sophisticated romantic comedy which plays out like a filmed play even though it wasn't. It's dialogue heavy and most of the central action takes place at Hayward's estate with a lengthy finale at a congressional hearing. Hayward and Douglas are about the last two actors one would think of when casting a romantic comedy. More famous for their often heavy handed intensity in their film work, neither possesses the light touch necessary for this kind of movie. Though to be fair, they were last minute substitutes for Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, who bowed out of the film when his fatal illness made him too sick to work. There are glimpses of what might have been like an amusing scene where Douglas attempts to teach Hayward the art of Judo defense or a drunk Hayward doing the Samba with a lead footed Douglas but it just doesn't light up. Directed by H.C. Potter (MR. BLANDINGS BUILDS HIS DREAM HOUSE). With Jim Backus, Paul Stewart and the director John Cromwell as Douglas' commanding officer.

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