1941-1950ComedyPreston SturgesRomanceScrewball ComedyUSA

Preston Sturges – Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

A brilliant black comedy by Preston Sturges, developed from a script he had written as early as 1932 and tried in vain to get Fox, Universal and Paramount intrested in producing. The script’s early provinence must be the reason that it’s the only one of his four post-Paramount pictures to feature dialogue comparable to (and sometimes surpassing) that found in the eight great comedies he wrote and directed in 1940–44, as well as numerous comedies that he had scripted in 1930s. The studios’ reluctance to make the film at that time is indicative of why it became a critical and a box office failure: the morbid subject matter, combined with the recent suicide of actress Carole Landis (who was suspected of having an affair with Rex Harrison, who plays the lead here), simply drove audiences away from it and for decades gave it a reputation of a film maudit. The film has always had its defenders, though: Woody Allen praised it for its “wonderful dialogue”, Quentin Tarantino placed it 8th on the list of his 11 favorite films, and Pauline Kael called it “one of the best comedies ever made in this country”, beginning her capsule review with these words: “The hero is Rex Harrison in a sensational parody of Sir Thomas Beecham; he disposes of his wife (Linda Darnell) in three different ways, to the music of Rossini, Wagner, and Tchaikovsky. What more could one ask of a movie?”

Oddly enough, many critics are not quite content with that, and even many of Sturges’ admirers are closer to the stance expressed by Leslie Halliwell in the essay quoted below. The film does suffer from some imbalance in its neat three-act structure, with the first act relying heavily on dialogue, the third act consisting almost entirely of silent slapstick sequence that doesn’t quite hold up until the end (as Halliwell notes, “it would take a very full house to keep the laughter alive”), and the macabre second act sitting uneasily with both of them. The film is better in parts than as a whole, and some scenes – notably Harrison’s confronations with his brother-in-law, the house dick and the private detective, as well as the beautifully shot rehersal scene of Rossini’s Semiramide overture – rank with Sturges’ best achievements in his Paramount period. The film could certainly use William Demarest to accompany other familiar faces from Sturges’ stock company, but his lack is more than made up by veteran comic foil Edgar Kennedy, given a chance to shine just months before his death (on 9 November 1948, four days after the film’s premiere), in a bit part that includes one of the most famous lines Sturges ever wrote: “For me, there’s nobody handle Handel like you handle Handel! And your Delius – delirious!”


Container: Matroska
Runtime: 1 h 45 min
Size: 2.63 GiB
Codec: x264
Resolution: 766x576 
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Frame rate: 23.976 fps
Bit rate: 3 238 kb/s
BPP: 0.306
#1: English 1.0ch AAC LC @ 144 kb/s
#2: English 2.0ch AAC LC @ 185 kb/s (Commentary by Sturges scholars James Harvey, Diane Jacobs, and Brian Henderson)



Subtitles:English,English SDH Chinese,French

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