Sunday, February 05, 2006

Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

Rex Harrison stars in a Preston Sturges comedy as a symphony conductor who suspects that his wife is unfaithful to him. As he conducts three pieces, the film depicts his fantasies of confrontation with his wife and her supposed lover. First, he slaughters her viciously and frames the lover. Second, he stoically parts ways with her, even writing her a check to start a new life. Third, he plays Russian roulette with the three of them. After he's completed his conducting duties, he tries to enact these fantasies, with slapstick and otherwise comedically frustrated results.

The film was a flop, apparently. It didn't help matters, I suppose, that this film which features him taking a straight razor to his wife was released in the same year that Harrison discovered the dead body of his lover, Carole Landis. Though even without the unfortunate real life parallels, the film is probably a bit meta for 1948 mainstream tastes.

Harrison's fantasies in the film are enjoyable in their own right, and it's as if the character is making little movies in his mind for him to play out after he's done conducting. That nothing works quite as he expects it is a delightful turn of events. I know that I often run little fantasies through my head of conversations that I'll have, conversations which never turn out as I'd expected. Ah, if only I could script all the people that I know. The sheer increase in random hummers would be staggering.

Like Rex in Unfaithfully Yours, I understand much of my daily life in terms of the movies, and seeing a movie about that process is great fun. It's a nice comment on the process of watching a movie and how they relate to our lives.

And so, even though the yuks aren't quite there, at least to the extent that they're in other Sturges comedies, the clever artistry of the comedy makes the whole thing a hoot to see.

1 comment:

Squishy Burrito said...

Nothing about being Unfaithful in this comment. I'm just super excited that in your contact list of blogs if I hold the cursor over the names it tells me when they last posted. I enjoy this feature