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Saturday, August 31, 2013

Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

An internationally famous symphony conductor (Rex Harrison) suspects his young wife (Linda Darnell) of having an affair with his male secretary (Kurt Kreuger). While conducting a concert with his wife in attendance, he fantasizes about a way of killing her and placing the blame on her lover. After the concert, he attempts to carry out his plan. This often witty black comedy written, produced and directed by Preston Sturges was a box office flop despite encouraging reviews when first released. It's easy to see why. In his fantasy, Harrison slashes Darnell's throat so viciously he almost decapitates her! Hardly the stuff 1940s audiences would find amusing. It's failure signified the end of Sturges' comedic reign in Hollywood. The verbal wit of the first 2/3 of the film is replaced by some slapstick which simply isn't as funny as the stuff that preceded it. Still, when it sparkles, it ranks with the best of Sturges great comedies like THE LADY EVE and THE PALM BEACH STORY. The film was so undervalued for so long that now its dangerously close to being overpraised. Still, an essential film in the Sturges catalog. With Rudy Vallee, Barbara Lawrence and Lionel Stander.

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