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Attore fin da bambino, Richard Quine (USA, 1920) giunse al cinema con
dotato come lui di un humor surreale.
Lo spettacolo leggero, ora sofisticato, ora farsesco e sempre satirico, e' la sua specialita'.
I suoi film prendono in giro le aberrazioni della societa` del Dopoguerra.
After the musical
The Sunny Side of the Street (1951) for Frankie Laine,
and the drama Purple Heart Diary (1951),
Sound Off (1952) is a mediocre musical farce.
A vain nightclub entertainer, Mike (Mickey Rooney), is drafted into the army.
He immediately tries to seduce a pretty nurse, Colleen.
His training is a series of disasters, punctuated with songs.
When he gets two days of leave, he invites Colleen, but she prefers to spend
the weekend with her mother... and a major. Mike is not easy to refrain,
and he shows up at her place even if uninvited. Mike is a hit with her mother,
helping her cook, making jokes, playing cards, whereas the major comes
through as rather boring. When the time comes to live, Mike pretends
to have no place to sleep and her mother invites him to stay in their
guest room. The following day Mike takes the nurse to a club but he loses his
temper when he is mocked by a famous columnist. The nurse leaves, embarrassed
by the brawl. Mike gets punished by being restricted to the barrack, but he
needs to see Colleen so he asks to switch place with another soldier. He sees
Colleen go on a romantic date with the major and is about to return to the
barracks. But the sergeant has found out and they are now out to arrest him.
He tries to run away on a boat, only to run into Colleen and the major.
This time he is thrown in jail and the captain tells him that he should
face court martial, except that the major himself has asked for clemency in
his case. Mike repents and finally starts working hard. So hard that both the
captain and the major decide to assign him to a special unit in charge of
entertaining the soldiers overseas. And, just before he boards the ship,
Colleen admits that she's in love with him.
Castle in the Air (1952)
All Ashore (1953), co-scripted by Blake Edwards, is more of the same:
a musical farce about the more or less funny adventures of a hapless sailor.
There are even more songs, and even more tedious.
Sailors are given a shore leave.
Moby (Mickey Rooney) has been saving money to spend a vacation in Catalina
Island. Joey and Skip are penniless because they gamble and lost their money.
They eye Moby's little fortune and refuse to let him go alone. They talk him
into drinking at a pub, and by the end of the night they have spent all his
money with three girls. In order to buy the tickets to Catalina, Joey finds
Moby a job on board the ferry (which pays also for Joey's and Skip's
entertainment). Skip meets the lively Gay, who takes them to the resort
where she is staying. Joey and Skip check how much money the three of them
they have, and decide that it's enough to for the two of them to take a room.
Moby seems incapable of resisting them, and they keep taking advantage of
his good nature. Later he gets hurt on the beach and a sweet girl, Nancy,
the daughter of the manager, takes care of him. That night his pals convince
him to work as a waiter to pay for their drinks at the club where Gay works
as a dancer. Later, alone, he is found by Nancy, who proposes they go dancing
at a casino. At the casino they meet Joey, who is a notorious womanizer and
takes the girl from Moby. Moby, alone again and tired, goes back to the
resort and sneaks into what he believes to be his pals' cabin. Instead
he's in a blonde girl's cabin and realizes it only when she comes back home and
starts undressing, thinking the person sleeping in the bed is her
roommate. When she turnes the lights off, Moby tries to sneak out but just
then her roommate Susie comes home, and Moby has to
hide under the bed wearing only his underwear. When both girls are finally
asleep, he tries to sneak out again, only to accidentally turn on the light.
The girls scream and the guard sees Moby run away. There ensues a
farcical chase, but Moby is eventually saved by Joey and Nancy, who were
kissing good night.
The following day his friends convince Moby to pawn a watch so that they can
go out with their dates. Moby is bored and decide to return to the ship.
While he's waiting, he tries to help a girl and by accident he falls in
the sea. She takes him her father's boat to dry his clothes. The father
is a tycoon and offers Moby a job. Invited to a party, Jane invites Moby
to come along. Their motorboat dies and they are thrown overboard.
Moby rescues Jane and they swim ashore. Then they have to walk a long way
in the night, while everybody (Moby's friends as well as Jane's father)
are getting worried and a rescue mission gets underway. In the morning
Skip and Joey fight, accusing each other of having caused the mess,
and get arrested, just when Moby and Jane walk back. Jane's father gains
the release of Moby's friends, who is hailed as a hero for saving Jane.
Jane's father offers to pay for the rest of Moby's vacation.
Siren of Bagdad (1953) is a lightweight fairy tale
A gentleman magician, Kazah, performs his trick in an oasis.
A charming playboy, he keeps two girls, the jealous Orena and the sweet
THe bandits attack the oasis and kidnap al the girls. The magician turns
out to be also an acrobatic swordsman and survives the attack killing numerous
Learning that the thieves are heading for Baghdad, the magician and is
faithful servant set out on a camel to free the girls. They find them
at a slave market and learn that the thief is a sultan. The resistance
asks him to join them, but he declines, infuriating the daughter of the
leader, a girl with a temper and no feminine manners.
Kazah tries to outsmart the vizir, but soon realizes that his powers cannot
overwhelm the sultan's army. Having learned that the sultan is waiting for
the arrival of the princess whom he is to marry, Kazah returns to the rebels,
offering them a new plan: send a fake princess to marry the sultan. The leader
of the rebels, who reveals to be the legitimate heir to the throne usurped by
the sultan, decides to send his own daughter, the one Kazah originally
disliked, Zendi, but whom now she's in love with. However, the sultan's
men realize the scam and arrest Zendi. The sultan's army is set to destroy
the resistance. Led by Zakah, the rebels free Zendi and arrest the sultan.
Kazah can have Zendi for himself.
Drive a Crooked Road (1954), co-scripted again with Blake Edwards, is a noir film.
Pushover (1954) is a tight film noir that took inspiration from the plot of
Wilder's Double Indemnity and adapted the traditional role
of the femme fatale to the generation of juvenile delinquents.
A lot of the action takes place in the claustrophobic room where three cops
are watching every movement of a gorgeous woman.
The first scene documents a bank robbery without a word.
The robbers succeed but have to kill the cop.
At the exit of a movie two lonely people meet, a sexy woman and a handsome
man, when her car wouldn't start. She accepts his offer to take her home
and they make love.
The police chief is under pressure to solve the case. The handsome man walks
in with his report. He is a detective, Paul, whose job is to investigate the
girl, Lona (Kim Novak), of the main bank robber, Harry.
The chief orders two cops, Rick and Paddy, plus Paul to rent a flat across
the street and watch the girl day and night until they can find a clue to
Henry's whereabouts. She is so attractive that the cops don't mind spying on
her in the binoculars and listening to her phone calls over a wiretapped line.
Paul tries to continue his affair with Lona, but Lona understands the truth.
Instead of trying to get rid of him, she confesses that she loves him, and
he confesses that he loves her.
She longs for a peaceful life and asks Paul to kill Harry so that they can
live together with the loot.
Disgusted, Paul leaves her apartment, but then spends all the time obsessively
spying on her from the other apartment, like an impotent voyeur.
Meanwhile one of his partners, Rick, rescues a neighbor of Lona, the pretty Ann,
from an aggressive date.
Paul can't stand it anymore. He phones Lona and gives her an appointment.
They kiss and he tells her that she wins. Harry wants to see her: it's the
chance for their plan. The plan is for Lona to distract Paul's two partners
by taking a drive somewhere, while Paul arrests Harry at her place; but one
of the two, Paddy, is drinking at a pub instead of mounting guard, a violation
that may cost him his job and that creates a complication in Paul's plan.
They seize Harry and walk him to his car, where they find the loot.
Then Paul pushes Harry against Paddy and shoots him in the back, pretending
that Harry was attacking Paddy. Their boss wanted Harry alive, and Paddy
is surprised that Paul would kill him. If they tell their boss that they killed
Harry, they will have to tell him why Paddy was there and not following Lona.
Paul offers to hide Paddy's blunder by dumping Paddy's corpse. Paddy finds the
offer too generous and suspects something. Paul lets Paddy dispose of the
body by himself.
Meanwhile Rick has followed Lona to a club where she quietly drinks by herself.
She keeps phoning Paul to find out if the plan worked, but Paul is not there
to answer. So she has to stay longer than anticipated and gets more anxious.
Paul and Rick meet back at the apartment.
The police chief comes to tell them that Harry has been
spotted in the neighborhood and senses that something is wrong. Rick has
figured out that Paul must have been tipped by Lona about Harry and wants
to tell the chief all the truth. He pulls out the gun to stop Paul. They
fight and Rick is killed. Paul leaves Rick's body in his car making it look
like suicide. The chief and Rick find him. Paul runs around the block
and pretends to arrive because he just heard the shot and tells the chief
that Paddy probably killed himself because of his alcohol problem.
Something still doesn't match.
The chief had tried to phone his men several times but nobody was at the flat.
Paul explains that he was downstairs looking for Paddy, but there is a
witness who saw him in Lona's apartment precisely at that time: Ann.
Paul meets Lona on the roof and informs her of what has happened.
From the roof they see where Paddy dumped Harry's car with the loot.
In the meantime Ann has told Rick that she saw a man leaving Lona's apartment,
and Rick thinks it was Harry. Later Rick tells Paul that he doesn't believe
in Paddy's suicide.
Lona leaves her apartment and starts driving, just to make Rick follow her
and leave Paul alone so Paul can rescue Harry's car and dump the body.
Later the chief arrives with the news that they found the body, but not the
loot, and asks Rick to follow him to interrogate Lona. They think that Harry's
partner doublecrossed him.
Ann sees Paul and calls the police to report that the man she saw is still
alive (therefore it was not Harry). Paul senses that she can screw up their
plan and decides to act: he takes Ann hostage at gunpoint and then tells
Lona to get ready to leave. Rick receives the message that Ann left.
He is taking the elevator to her flat while Paul and the two women are walking
down the stairs. They walk towards Harry's car but see a police car parked
behind it. Paul sends Ann to get the bag from the trunk, but Rick figures out
what is happening and starts shooting, eventually shooting Paul.
Lona, who refused to run away, coldly stares at the dying Paul.
After the musical So This is Paris (1954),
Quine's first success came with the mediocre My Sister Eileen (1955), an adaptation
of Ruth McKenney's autobiographical stories originally (1938), and a remake
of a 1942 film already derived from the same subject, but Quine (and his
scriptwriter Blake Edwards) turned it into a musical comedy.
Unfortunately, the musical numbers slow down the action.
Two sisters, the elder Ruth and the younger Eileen, who just arrived from the province to the
Greenwich Village in New York find lodging at the house of an
eccentric landlord who has all sorts of eccentric artistic tenants.
During the day the house is shaken by violent tremors due to the
dynamite that is being used to build the subway. At night the tremors stop,
but all sorts of other noises keep the girls awake.
They are on a tight budget, so the following day they go out looking for jobs.
Eileen is an aspiring actress and Ruth is an aspiring reporter.
Ruth aggressively follows the editor of a magazine, Bob (Jack Lemmon), who
is leaving for a vacation. He advises her to change style and write about
more mundane matters. Meanwhile, the attractive Eileen is disappointed that
a producer only wants to see her to have sex with her.
They are soon desperate for cash. Eileen meets a reporter, Chic, who promises
to introduce her to a producer, but it turns out to be an interview to become
On the other hand, Bob comes back from his vacation and calls Ruth: he likes
the stories she wrote about all those men chasing her beautiful and naive
sister Eileen. Ruth lies to him, pretending that Eileen does not exist and
the stories are actually autobiographical.
Bob likes her and even tries to seduce her, but Ruth is not available.
The sisters get a new housemate when a neighbor (and their only friend) needs
a place to stay while his girlfriend's mother is visiting.
Eileen has invited the only two men she knows to dinner: Chick, who apologizes
for the incident at the strip bar, and the manager of a diner.
They end up going out to a dance club. Ruth notices Bob arriving with a
sexy date and hides under the table, but Bob has already seen her and
he introduces the two girls.
Bob invites Ruth to dinner with the excuse that he wants to publish her
stories. She breaks into tears when he tries to kiss her, just like a virgin
who has no experience, and unlike the Eileen of her stories who has had
a lot of boyfriends.
Frank is a honest boy who is seriously in love with Eileen and one night
almost proposes to her. But then their conversation wakes up Eileen's male
housemate, and Frank is shocked to see that she has a man in the house.
Thinking she and Ruth are promiscuous, Frank walks away.
Chic too is after Eileen and he devises a nasty way to be alone with her:
he makes a call to Ruth pretending to be a newspaper man, offering her a
little job. When Ruth leaves, Chic walks in and tells her the truth.
Eileen is devastated knowing how bad Ruth she will feel.
Chic tries to kiss her. Eileen screams. Her male housemate throws him out.
His girlfriend sees him hugging Eileen and slaps him in the face.
Ruth, meanwhile, has arrived at the place where she is supposed to write
an article: the arrival of a ship. The sailors, however, think she is there
to have fun and chase her all over town until she makes it home.
The sisters and the sailors improvise a party that spreads into the street
and gets out of control. The police arrest everybody.
Bob has found out that Ruth has a sister when he called to talk to her and
instead Eileen picked up the phone. Released from jail, the sisters find
Bob waiting for Ruth at home. Ruth is ashamed that Bob found out about Eileen,
and fears that Bob now doesn't find her special anymore. Instead Bob is in
love with her and kisses her, after telling her that he has started
publishing her stories. At the same time all misunderstandings are cleared:
Frank makes peace with Eileen and the male housemate with his girlfriend.
The Solid Gold Cadillac (1956) is "Cinderella" transposed to the world
of unbridled capitalism, a populist farce in the vein of Frank Capra.
The narrating voice introduces the management of a corporation. The founder
is an honest man, but he is moving to Washington and has sold all his stock.
The four men who will inherit the company are crooks. At the annual shareholder
meeting they bid farewell to the founder, who eats a sandwich indifferent to
what is going on. Suddenly a young single girl, Laura (Judy Holliday), stands
up and starts asking embarrassing questions about the salaries of the four men.
She only owns ten shares, so it's easy for them to silence her. Later she
meets the founder who is kind enough to give her a ride home on the way to the airport.
She tells him that she is an aspiring actress but pays the bills working at
a department store.
She promises him to keep an eye on the company. And she does: she shows up at
every meeting and creates more and more trouble for the four crooks.
Eventually they come up with a plan to silence her: they hire her.
The president calls her in his office. She meets the new member of the board,
Harry: a playboy with absolutely no qualifications, other than being the
brother-in-law of the president.
The president offers her the job of liaison to the small stockholders
with a good salary and a secretary. The secretary is actually just a spy with
the order to stop Laura from doing anything useful.
Laura takes her job seriously and starts writing to all the small stockholders,
chatting about their families and their lives. Soon she is corresponding with
hundreds of people and her program is a big success. Meanwhile, she is also
advising her plain secretary on how to seduce the man she likes, a company
manager who is still single and lives with her mother. Laura tells her how to
do her hair in a more attractive manner. It works: the two fall in love and plan
to get married. Meanwhile, the company is in trouble: the crooks were relying
on government contracts via the founder, but the founder is an honest man and
does not favor his old company. They call him for a meeting. When he arrives,
he is surprised to meet Laura. Laura tells him of her program and they start
chatting about their lives. The founder realizes that he is falling in love
with her and leaves in a hurry to meet the crooks. Meanwhile, the secretary
gets fired for not stopping Laura's plans and confesses to Laura that her job
was to spy on her. Laura decides to dictate one more letter to the secretary:
her resignation letter. Meanwhile, Harry the idiot has managed to send
bankrupt one of the company's subsidiaries. Laura learns it from a small
stochholder's letter while she is on her way out and changes her mind. She
blackmails the president into keeping her secretary and actually increasing
her staff: a whole army of secretaries starts helping her correspond with the
small stockholders. The board is desperate to get rid of her. They have the idea
to send her away, and decide to send her to Washington to beg the founder
for government contracts on behalf of the small stockholders. Laura accepts
because it gives her a chance to meet the man who almost fell in love with her.
Laura understands well that they just want to get her out of town, but she has
another reason to accept: she wants to convince the founder to come back to
run the company. In Washington they have a nice time together. Initially
he declines the invitation, feeling his duty to the government, but Laura
tells him about the bankrupted subsidiary and this angers the founder enough
to convince him. He hands out his resignations in Washington.
He tries to return to his old company, but the crooks join forces in keeping
him out. The founder decides to fight them. He sues them because they sent
Laura to lobby in Washington. At the trial the crooks accuse her of having
gone to Washington on her own will and only to continue a love affair with
the founder. Asked by the crooks' attorney if she is in love with the founder,
she says "yes", thus reinforcing their thesis. The crooks win the case.
The founder realizes that the small stockholders have sent thousands of
letters granting Laura the right to vote for them.
At the stockholder meeting she can muster enough votes to oust the crooks
from the board and to reappoint the founder as president.
Full of Life (1956),
adapted from John Fante's novel,
is a humble domestic comedy that delves into
(e.g., the protagonist is visibly pregnant, a first for Hollywood movies).
The comic scenes are lame, replete with ridiculous stereotypes about the Italian
immigrants, and the acting is mostly terrible.
Emily (Judy Holliday) is eight months into her pregnancy. She and her husband
writer Nick live a simple middle-class life.
One day she literally crashes through a termine-infected floor.
They cannot afford an expensive repair and the only solution is to ask
Nick's father, who is in the construction business.
Nick shows very little enthusiasm for it.
They decide to visit Nick's parents in the countryside.
Nick's father is a little dictator who is nice only to Emily.
He slaps Nick in the face when he learns that he bought a house without telling
Nick's father moves in with them but his tyrannical style drives Nick crazy.
He also bothered by the fact that the couple got married only at city hall.
He would like them to get married in a Catholic church, but she is not a
Catholic. Eventually she agrees. Father is so happy he builds a fireplace
for them. He has done a lot of work, but he still hasn't fixed the termite
problem. When the day comes, she has to undergo surgery. Nick walks into
the hospital's chapel and prays. His father brings him a telegram: he has
just earned a fortune, thanks to Emily who mailed a story he wrote to the
right publisher. The child is born. They return home. Father is gone, his
mission accomplished. They can finally call a termite-repair service
to fix the floor.
Operation Mad Ball (1957) is a combination of military farce and
romantic comedy, almost a preview of M*A*S*H*.
In France after the end of World War II in a military hospital of the USA
ordinary soldier Hogan (Jack Lemmon) dares to pay a compliment to a beautiful
army nurse, Betty, who is an officer and is out on a date with a captain.
The jealous captain puts him under arrest and wants him courtmartialed.
A sweet talker, Hogan outsmarts the captain at the inquest and gets released.
The vengeful captain transfers him to the mortuary.
Hogan, determined to solve the issue of soldiers dating nurses, convinces the
owner of a hotel to let them use her establishment for a party.
WHile the preparations for the party are underway in secret, Hogan tries
to win over Betty by showing her somebody else's X-ray as if it was his:
it shows a dangerous ulcer. Meanwhile, the captain is still trying to seduce
Betty and at the same time is planning a political career in Washington.
He can sense that the soldiers are up to something but can't figure out what.
He increases the frequency of inspections, but they always manage to outsmart
him, and Hogan finds a way to blackmail him by pretending that a wounded
prisoner was buried alive (something that would ruin the captain's political
career). Betty is more and more concerned about Hogan's health. Hogan tells
her about the secret party and invites her to be his date. She doesn't want
to be part of an illegal scheme but is tempted. Unfortunately, she overhears
Hogan talking to another soldier about the X-ray and realizes that Hogan is
not sick at all. Furious, she refuses to talk to him. Next, Hogan finds a way
to ruin a party that the camp's colonel is planning for a visiting general
on the same night as Hogan's party. The captain is certain that something
is going on and decides that every truck leaving the camp must be inspected.
This makes it impossible for the soldiers and the nurses to reach the hotel.
Hogan, again, comes up with a plan to outsmart the captain: he let the
captain know about the ball, but let him think that nurses and soldiers
will be leaving for the ball in an ambulance. Instead he loads the ambulance
with German prisoners. When the captain stops the ambulance, he is suspected
of wanting to free the prisoners. Meanwhile, the colonel has seen Betty cry
and she opened her heart to him: she just wants to go to the ball. The colonel
decides to forget the rules for one night and he personally drives her there.
On the way they meet the captain who is being arrested by the military police
and the colonel ignores his pleas for help. Every soldier has a date except
Hogan. The party is a big success. Only one person feels miserable: Hogan,
who stays in his barrack. Betty tells the colonel that she is in love with
Hogan. The good colonel orders Hogan to come. Hogan thinks he is being
punished for organizing an illegal party, but instead the colonel congratulates
him for the organization. Then Betty shows up. She takes off her uniform to
reveal a sexy dress. They can finally join the dance.
Il primo grande classico di Quine e`
Bell Book and Candle (1958),
una commedia sul tema classico della schermaglia amorosa.
Novak e' una giovane bella e solitaria, nipote di una strega pettegola e svampita,
che si invaghisce del vicino (Stewart), serio professionista fidanzato con una insipida benpensante. La zia
fa in modo che i due si incontrino, ma Novak le proibisce di fare magie; Stewart e la fidanzata vanno a
passare la notte di Natale proprio nel locale in cui si riuniscono maghi e streghe; Novak riconosce nella
donna una antica compagna di scuola, meschina e spiona, della quale si vendicava scatenando temporali.
il fratello di Novak e' tutto il contrario di lei: giocherellone, vano, esuberante, irresponsabile. per spirito di
avventura, Novak decide di conquistare Stewart senza ricorrere alle arti magiche, anche per far dispetto
alla sua vecchia nemica. Comincia con lo sfruttare i poteri soprannaturali del suo gatto nero per sedurlo
alla vigilia del matrimonio. Un altro incantesimo-capriccio, fa volare uno scrittore messicano esperto di
magia da Stewart. Lo studioso gli rivela che le streghe non possono piangere e che il locale preferito da
Novak e' il quartier generale delle streghe di New York. Stewart lo presenta a Novak. Il fratello spiritello e
vanesio (Jack Lemmon) gli si rivela nella vera veste di apprendista mago e, per vanita', gli mostra tutta
una serie di trucchi che lo scrittore si impegana a pubblicare.
Stewart chiede a Novak di sposarlo; Novak e' incerta, ha paura di non potere; il
gatto la diffida, ma lei alla fine cede ai sentimenti. Lemmon, intanto, si e' messo in societa' con lo scrittore
e sta scrivendo un nuovo libro con lui e non e' disposto a rinunciare per la sorella.Novak per difendere il
suo segreto getta il malocchio sul libro, ma Lemmon minaccia di vendicarsi; allora Novak si trova
costretta a confessare, ma lui rimane dubbioso e anzi si convince che lei sia andata con lui solo per far
dispetto alla nemica. Davanti alla sua ira Novak compie una magia. Stewart decide di ricorrere alle arti di
un'altra strega per farsi liberare dal sortilegio che lo attrae a lei e si rivolge a Lemmon e allo scrittore,
entrambi desiderasi di vendicarsi di lei. Lo portano da una vecchia strega che con uno strano rituale lo
libera dal sortilegio; lui va a sbeffeggiarla; lei, furibonda, vorrebbe vendicarsi, ma il gatto l'ha
abbandonata, e presto lei capisce perche': piange. Il gatto va da Stewart e lui lo ingabbia e lo riporta a lei.
Lei scoppia a piangere e lui capisce che e' guarita.
It Happened to Jane (1959) e' un capolavoro della commedia sentimentale,
con due personaggi che rappresentano l'americano e l'americana medi di provincia.
Doris Day alleva
aragoste in una cittadina di provincia, ma la ferrovia manda in fumo la sua prima consegna. La donna,
vedova e madre di due bambini, si rivolge a Jack Lemmon, l'amico del cuore boy-scout e patetico sconfitto
cronico alle elezioni a sindaco. La donna e' tenace; il padrone delle ferrovie e' un avido capitalista senza
scrupoli, ma la donna decide di difendere i propri diritti ad oltranza, opponendo il suo avvocato boy-scout
al grattacielo di avvocati della compagnia. I due provinciali fanno sequestrare il treno e scatenano un caso
nazionale. Lemmon si fa in quattro per aiutare la vedova, sia in tribunale che a casa e ci rimane male
quando lei comincia a dar retta ad un giornalista di New York, bello e raffinato, che la porta sugli schermi
La battaglia con il ricco spietato ha fine quando Lemmon viene eletto sindaco in
una movimentata seduta pubblica e convince i cittadini ad aiutare la vedova tutti insieme.
Si carica il treno di aragoste per andarle a consegnare di persona. Il vecchio
cerca ancora di bloccarli, ma poi i due rivali si incontrano e la vedova ha ragione del riccastro, che anzi si
rimbocca le maniche e aiuta Lemmon con la caldaia. Anche Lemmon ottiene la ricompensa agognata,
perche' Day gli grida che lo ama e all'arrivo non si cura neppure del giornalista.
Kim Novak fu una sua scoperta, impiegata anche nel melodramma
Strangers When We Meet (1960):
Novak e' una malinconica casalinga, trascurata dal marito e
bisognosa di affetto (forse anche di sesso), perseguitata da un uomo che si fa vivo con lei solo per telefono.
Kirk Douglas e' un architetto, anche lui sposato con figlio, anche lui frustrato,
ma nel lavoro. Progetta una casa per un amico scrittore, anch'egli depresso per mancanza di ispirazione.
Novak cerca di resistere alla tentazione, ma il marito e' sempre freddissimo e,
disperata, accetta un appuntamento con Douglas, quasi supplicando una carezza.
Da quel giorno cominciano a vedersi regolarmente come due innamorati. Un
giorno pero' un uomo li scopre e fa una scenata. Kim Novak e' costretta a raccontare chi e' quell'uomo, lo
stesso che la perseguita per telefono: un anno prima la corteggio', lei minaccio' di chiamare la polizia, ma
invece quando lui penetro' in casa prese due pillole di sonnifero per non vedere. Confessa che lo
desiderava, ma al tempo stesso se ne vergognava. Rimorso e vergogna la deprimono, ma non puo' resistere
all'infinito ai sensi.
Novak e' bravissima nel recitare la parte della brava madre di famiglia che
vorrebbe soltanto badare alla sua casa, ma ha bisogno di affetto e di sesso, e la contraddizione la
Walter Matthau e' uno spregevole che, scoperto l'intrigo, cerca di sedurre la
brava moglie di Douglas, portandola al crollo nervoso perche' ora si sente anche lei trascurata, e quando
Douglas lo prende a pugni, gli fa notare che loro due hanno fatto la stessa cosa. Per salvare il suo focolare
Douglas decide di lasciare Novak. Si dicono addio fra le lacrime.
The World of Suzie Wong (1960) is the adaptation of
Paul Osborn's play.
Finally Quine returned to his favorite genre with
Notorious Landlady (1962), which is both a comedy and a thriller,
co-scripted again with
The film is set in London.
The first scene is a little masterpiece of black humour delivered through
visual and sound effects. An old lady in a wheelchair is shot by a child with
a toy pistol, but the shot makes the real noise. The lady guesses that there
was a real shooting nearby. The camera shifts towards a building where many
people are coming to the window. Some of them see someone drag a dead body
into a garage and then take off in a sport car. Therefore a murder has just
been committed, and it occurred precisely when the little child pointed the
gun towards the old lady.
Days later the widow has placed an advert in the newspaper looking for a tenant
but is having trouble finding tenants, because of her
reputation linked to the murder. Bill (Jack Lemmon) is a newly-arrived
USA citizen who works at the nearby embassy, and knows nothing of the incident.
He doesn't know that he is being followed when he approaches the house.
He insists with
the gorgeous blonde landlady, Carlyle (Kim Novak), that he must have the apartment.
At first she pretends to be British and insists that she does not want a single
in the house, but then confesses that she is from the USA too and that renting
to a single would further diminish her reputation. He not only convinces her
to rent him the flat but also obtains a date to dinner.
At work Bill introduces himself to the ambassador (Fred Astaire) and mentions
his landlady's name. The ambassador recognizes the name and his assistant
helps him remember the murder, but Bill has already left. At home Bill
tries to figure out what happened to her husband, but her replies are vague,
leading him to believe that she is separated.
Over dinner they are observed by someone. When they leave the restaurant,
that person leaves too. In the fog Carlyle is approached by someone who needs
to talk to her, but she tells Bill that it was just business. Bill is just a
playboy who tries to sleep with her, and she rejects him politely, preferring
to play her favorite instrument, a small organ, in the middle of the night.
The following day he is summoned in the office of the ambassador, who has two
people hiding and listening to the conversation: the man who followed Bill
and a Scotland Yard inspector. The ambassador informs Bill of the murder
and that she is suspected of having murdered her husband. The police is
convinced that she committed the murder, but they have never found the body,
and therefore they cannot arrest her. The ambassador introduces the British
inspector to Bill. The inspector, incapable of breaking the case, wants Bill
to spy on the woman. Bill protests the innocence of the woman but the inspector
provides overwhelming evidence against her. Bill still refuses to believe
that Carlyly could be dangerous. But the inspector casually mentions that the
blonde just purchases a large amount of arsenic. At home he finds a note
that a "P" left for Carlyle, and he interprets it as an invitation to commit
another murder in the house. While he is alone at home, he searches the house
and finds a revolver in her bedroom and imagines poison in the kitchen.
He is still searching the woman's bedroom when she walks in. He has to hide
in her closet and overhears a phone call in which she seems to consent to
a murder for money. When she cooks a romantic dinner for him, he panics.
The barbeque turns into a fire that requires the intervention of the fire
department. The following day the news of the fire involving a diplomat and
a suspected murderer is all over the newspapers, greatly upsetting the
ambassador. But then the woman in person shows up at the embassy and the
ambassador is suddenly converted to her case: in the ambassador's house,
she becomes the victim of a smearing campaign instead of a dangerous criminal.
The ambassador decides to investigate the case himself. At night in the fog
Bill follows the man who had a meeting with Carlyle outside the restaurant,
while the ambassador follows Carlyle. Bill ends up in a church: the mysterious
man is a priest, who has just purchased the organ from Carlyle. It was indeed
just business, as Carlyle originally told him. However, the ambassador sees
the woman meet with a man at a cemetery (before falling into an open tomb).
Bill now believes Carlyle's innocence and is in love again. Bill and the
ambassador discuss the case on the phone and agree on her innocence. The only
mystery left is the arsenic. She is listening on another telephone of the
house and simply tells them the she bought it to kill pests (thus embarrassing
the diplomats who were supposed to be talking in secret).
That night, though, Bill hears noises upstairs and then a shooting. He runs
upstairs and finds Carlyle standing in front of a dead body. She tells him
that it's... her husband. She is arrested and in court she tells her version
of the facts. A flashback shows her husband breaking into the house and seizing
Carlyle. He tells her that he faked the murder to get away. In fact, someone
wanted to kill him for a theft he had committed. Instead he killed the hitman
and only pretended to have been killed. Now he's back and, first of all, he
would like to make love to her. The flashback ends and she concludes the story
by quickly claiming that they fought and he was killed accidentally. The story
is not credible, so Bill tries to place the blame on himself. His story
is debunked by the inspector, who also reveals that Bill had been working
as an undercover agent and spying the woman. The revelation shocks Carlyle,
who now feels betrayed by the only man she thought she could trust.
It looks like the case is closed, but a witness, her neighbor Agatha,
suddenly shows up claiming
to have seen the whole scene from the window of her apartment, and she
confirms Carlyle's version of the facts. Carlyle is released.
Back at home Bill overhears Carlyle talking to the witness. The witness
is happy to have obtained something for her testimony and behaves as if she
now owned the house. Bill confronts Carlyle, but she doesn't trust him
anymore. He breaks into the bathroom where she is taking a bath and refuses
to leave until she tells him the whole truth. Another flashback shows what
really happened. Her husband demanded the candlelabr. She had no idea that
he had hidden the loot in the candlelabr. So she had pawned it the night that
the ambassador followed her at a pawn shop near the cemetery. He demanded the
pawn ticket but she didn't have it. Agatha has testified in her favor
in order to obtain from her the pawn ticket, redeem the candlelabr and live
rich for the rest of her life. But then Carlyle suddenly realizes that this
neighbor could not have possibly seen her and heard them: so how did she know
about the candlelabr? She must have heard of it from the old lady of the
first scene, who used to live in the apartment facing hers, but she just moved
to a place for elderly people.
They rush to the pawn shop but find the pawnbroker
murdered and the candlelabr on the floor. Unbeknownst to them, Agatha is
listening from another room. The inspector, having found another dead body,
alerts the police to arrest them on sight. Now they are chasing Agatha while
being chased by the police. They rush to the train station and head for the
location where the old lady in the wheelchair has retired, while the inspector
and the ambassador take the helicopter. Agatha gets there first and plans
to throw the old lady on a wheelchair off the cliff. In a farcical scene with
no word, Bill runs to stop the wheelchair before it flies off the cliff while
Carlyle runs to catch Agatha and, after a clumsy fight, knocks her off.
When the helicopter lands, the old lady supports their version, and Agatha's
purse full of jewels proves the point. The ambassador sends Bill back to the
USA, where Carlyle will follow him. As they talk, the wheelchair slips away
and they all start running after it along the promontory.
Paris When It Sizzles (1964),
a remake of a French film, Julien Duvivier's La Fete a Henriette (1952),
e' una commedia sentimentale per la
sognatrice Audrey Hepburn: uno sceneggiatore Casanova lavora assiduamente con la sua segretaria e i due
finiscono per sognare le avventure che scrivono e per innamorarsi.
Duvivier's meditation on cinema (a film within a film, in which a character
even argues with the screenwriter who has created him) is turned into
a light-weight comedy.
In a luxury tourist resort pool by the French riviera two producers
are playing cards, surrounded by gorgeous girls in bikini. One of them, Alexander
writes to Hollywood that he has hired a famous screenwriter for his new film.
The new screenwriter is an incorregible and alcoholic playboy, Richard
(William Holden), who
lives in a hotel suite in Paris. A nice young girl, Gabrielle (Audrey Hepburn),
is sent to him as a typist to help him write down the script.
She is surprised to hear that, two days from the deadline, he has not written
a single line. However, he tells passionately the love story of
"The Girl Who Stole the Eiffel Tower" and even kisses her to make it sound
After trying different stories, Richard chats with the typist, who tells him
how she moved to Paris for a study on depravity (and never went to bed before
sunrise) and how she has a date on Bastille's Day with a young struggling actor.
This gives Richard the idea for a film that takes place in just one day,
Bastille's Day, and is the love story between a simple girl, Gaby
(Audrey Hepburn herself), and a poor actor, Maurice (Tony Curtis).
Richard is jealous of the young man who has a date with the typist, and
his jealousy is reflected in the story that he is imagining: Maurice leaves
the scene and an older gentleman takes his place, a USA secret agent
(William Holden himself).
However, Richard doesn't like it. So they start again. This time the girl
is charmed by a veteran safe cracker, Rick, a crook and a liar. Now Gabrielle,
who has been drinking with Richard on a sofa,
starts contributing to the story, injecting her perspective into the
screenwriter's amoral world. She gets so involved in her own story that
she confesses of being in love with the dirty scoundrel and starts crying.
She goes to sleep, tired and drunk, but he has found the inspiration to type
a story. The following morning she reads the script and we see the equivalent
scenes. It's still Rick the criminal and Gaby the innocent girl.
But now he, a wealthy man who rides in a Rolls Royce, is interested in Gaby only because he needs a cover for his
masterplan. What he doesn't know is that the girl works for the police,
and is in charge of finding out the plan. The chief inspector sends a young
ambitious agent (Tony Curtis) to help her. During the heist, he realizes that
she is signaling to someone and understands that she is doublecrossing him.
She runs away, he chases her, she corners him with a gun...
At this point Richard and Gabrielle have a discussion on how to continue.
He decides that she has to be a prostitute with a heart of gold.
So the crook and the spy come to an agreement. He manages to take away in
his Rolls Royce what he wanted (a film titled "The Girl Who Stole the Tour
Eiffel") and decides to attend a costume party at the Tour Eiffel.
He dresses like a cowboy, she dresses like a Frontier prostitute.
In the Rolls Royce he doesn't resist her and kisses her...
Richard and Gabrielle are kissing in real life in his room.
In the film, instead, Rick is clearly being duped by Gaby, who is extracting
from him the truth: he has stolen the reels of the film and he will blackmail
the producer at the costume party. There Gaby delivers the news to her boss,
the chief inspector. Rick approaches the producer, dressed like a Roman caesar
(Noel Coward again), but he is simply amused: the film is a disaster and he
would just be too happy if Rick destroyed it. In fact, he offers him 50% of
the insurance money if he does so. After picking on the producer he hates so
much, Richard picks on Gabrielle's date: Maurice (Tony Curtis) is now Philippe,
a police officer working for the inspector, and Richard openly addresses him
as a dull character. When Richard calls him "Maurice,
the character corrects him by protesting that he is Philippe, and that
he deserves a better part. Richard (voice-over) replies to his character that
he is such an unimportant character that his name does not matter.
However, it is precisely this minor character who kills Rick as he and Gaby
are about to board a plane.
Gabrielle is not happy with this tragic ending, that basically reflects
Richard's low self-esteem.
In fact, she apologizes to her for seducing her and sends her away.
She leaves, but the following day, Bastille Day, he goes and looks for her.
Gabrielle asks him if the new movie that he is going to write will have
a happy ending. He agrees.
Sex And The Single Girl (1964) e' una commedia ad equivoco che trascende in
una farsa ad inseguimento.
The owner of a sleazy magazine calls a meeting to congratulate his executives
for the sudden rise in circulation due to... a collapse in journalistic
standards. The magazine is pure trash, and the owner praises one by one the
writers who write such ridiculous stories. He is particularly proud of
Bob (Tony Curtis), who has a reputation for inventing false stories.
Bob is now working on a piece about
a young gorgeous psychiatrist, Helen (Natalie Wood), the author of a runaway
bestseller on "Sex and the Single Girl", that reveals she is
a... virgin. That destroys her reputation in her field, and her patients
cancel their appointments. She is furious.
Bob, whose secretary Susan is a dumb blonde with whom he has obviously been
intimate, calls Helen to apologize and invite her to dinner. She ignores him,
and that arouses his pride.
Meanwhile, Bob's neighbor Frank (Henry Fonda) is having yet another argument
with his wife Sylvia. He is a faithful middle-aged husband but Sylvia is constantly jealous.
Frank is proud of the stockings that his company manufactures and sells, but
the problem with his ten-year old marriage is ruining his life.
Bob suggests that Frank sees a marriage counselor, but super-busy
Frank can't find the time. Then Bob has an idea to solve both their problems:
he pretends to be Frank and asks for an appointment with Helen. He tells her
Frank's problem with his wife, and accurately acts like Frank.
To interest her as a psychologist he even pretends that he is semi-impotent,
and that his wife's jealousy is caused by his "inadequate" performance.
She is clearly struck by the gentleman.
Helen is pursued by a coworker, Rudy, who has become infatuated with her after
reading Bob's infamous article. She tells him that she's not going to get
married for love, sex or romance, because she can have all of those outside
Just then Bob comes up with a new idea: he calls her pretending that he's about
to commit suicide. She jumps into a taxi and gets to the place where he is about
to jump. Relieved that he's alive, she hugs him and he kisses her. Shocked,
she caused both of them to fall in the river for real. When they reemerge all
wet, she has no choice but to invite him to her apartment. There he proceeds
to get her drunk and to kiss her more and more passionately. Initially she, half drunk,
explains to him that he is not kissing her but his wife Sylvia, but eventually
she realizes that she is losing control. She kicks him out and then calls her
mother crying, and admits that she has fallen in love with a married man.
Helen regains control and visits Sylvia. Sylvia is surprised to hear that
Frank has been seeing a psychologist.
Sylvia is determined to stop all contacts with the man she believes to be
Frank, but Bob threatens to commit suicide again and obtains a date with her
at the zoo. Bob tells her he loves her and invents yet another false story,
that he and Sylvia are not legally married and that Sylvia would be happy
if he ran away with another girl. He sweats that this is as true as that his
name is Frank (which it isn't). Helen is skeptic and demands that Sylvia in
person comes to her office to tell her all of this. Bob enrolls a friend who
is a cabaret singer, Gretchen, to impersonate Sylvia, unaware that Helen already met
the real Sylvia. Helen calls Sylvia to make an appointment. Sylvia tells her
that she has never been happier with Frank.
To make matters worse Bob's smart friend Gretchen flakes out and Bob has to send the
dumb Susan to impersonate Sylvia. However, at the last minute Gretchen decides
to do her friend that important favor after all.
Thus three women show up at Helen's office impersonating Sylvia: the real
Sylvia, who declares her love for her husband and confirms that they are
married, Gretchen, who tells her what Bob told her (they are not married
and she doesn't love him), and finally Susan, who is even more casual about
her relationship with Frank. Helen breaks the news to Sylvia that she is not
the only one married to Frank.
Frank is arrested for polygamy, which is the only thing that saves him from
Sylvia's determination to kill him. Helen visits Sylvia again and sees a
photograph of the real Frank. Helen is initially happy to realize that her
Frank is not Sylvia's married Frank, but then Sylvia recognizes
her neighbor Bob, the infamous journalist, and Helen realizes that she has
been used and that Bob is writing an intimate piece on her.
Helen decides to leave for an exotic vacation with her suitor Rudy.
Meanwhile Bob, who has been under pressure for some time to publish his
scandalous story, refuses to publish the piece and is fired by the magazine's
owner. Minutes later his secretary Susan is already in the arms of his substitute. Bob rushes to see Helen and learns that she's taken off.
Bob and Gretchen run after Helen and Rudy
while Sylvia runs after Frank, who has been released from jail and thinks she
wants to kill him. The long and confused double car chase ends at the airport,
where the couples are reconciled: Sylvia and Frank make peace, Helen accepts
Bob's love, and Rudy consoles himself taking Gretchen on his exotic vacation.
How To Murder Your Wife (1965) e' una delle sue commedie piu` ciniche,
non solo parodistica (del maschilismo) ma al tempo stesso ferocemente misogina,
Stanley (Jack Lemmon) e' un disegnatore di fumetti, scapolo impenitente,
che vive in un lussuoso appartamento in compagnia del fedele maggiordomo.
I due girano scene d'azione in giro per New York che poi lui trasforma
Il suo amico e avvocato e` scandalizzato dal suo stile di vita, ma
Stanley si gode la vita e non ha nessuna intenzione di sposarsi.
Stanley e` invitato a un banchetto di addio al celibato, ma il fidanzato
annuncia ubriaco che la fidanzata ha deciso di non sposarlo. Gli invitati
si danno alla pazza gioia. Al culmine della festa una ragazza splendida
(Virna Lisi) esce dalla torta. Quella notte il maggiordomo ha gli incubi.
La mattina dopo Stanley e` sposato alla ragazza. Stanley tenta invano di
spiegare alla ragazza che si e` trattato di un errore, causato dal fatto
che lui era ubriaco, ma lei e` italiana e non capisce una parola di inglese.
Il maggiordomo, disgustato, e` pronto dimettersi, ma Stanley lo supplica
di rimanere con la promessa che divorziera` immediatamente.
Divorziare non e` cosi` semplice, prima di tutto perche' il suo avvocato non
coopera e poi perche' la moglie e` affettuosamente scatenata.
Esasperato dalla nuova padrona di casa, il maggiordomo lascia l'appartamento.
Stanley diventa suo malgrado un marito, ma non sopporta la vita da marito.
In combutta con il maggiordomo decide allora di attentare alla vita della
moglie, usando tecniche efferate come quelle dei personaggi dei suoi fumetti.
La moglie vede i fumetti e capisce che lui la odia: gli restituisce
l'anello e se ne va.
Stanley non ha modo neppure di iniziare le ricerche: qualcuno si accorge
della verosimiglianza dei suoi fumetti e della scomparsa della donna.
La polizia lo arresta. Al processo l'amico avvocato lo preferisce colpevole
(sua moglie e` uno dei principali testi d'accusa)
e la testimonianza del maggiordomo e` controproducente (si congratula con
Stanley per l'omicidio).
Stanley ricusa l'avvocato e lo chiama come teste per la difesa, usandolo per
tenere un panegirico contro il matrimonio. Alla fine confessa di aver
ucciso la moglie e chiede alla giuria (tutti maschi sposati) di ammettere
che tutti i mariti odiano la moglie e vorrebbero ucciderla, e di conseguenza
lui va assolto. La giuria entusiasticamente lo assolve.
Scarcerato, Stanley confessa al maggiordomo di non averla uccisa.
Il maggiordomo lo consola ricordandogli che in America un uomo non puo` essere
processato due volte per lo stesso crimine: se la moglie ricomparisse, lui
potrebbe ucciderla davvero.
Tornano insieme a casa. E trovano le scarpe e il costume della donna, che
infatti lo sta aspettando a letto. Il maggiordomo carica la rivoltella e
la offre a Stanley.
Stanley entra in camera da letto e restituisce l'anello alla moglie,
Per il maggiordomo le cattive sorprese non sono finite: in casa si e` sistemata
anche l'italianissima mamma della donna. Il maggiordomo decide di far buon viso
al cattivo gioco e si chiude in camera con la mamma.
Then came the drama Synanon (1965),
Hotel (1967), an adaptation of Arthur Haley's novel,
Oh Dad Poor Dad (1967), an adaptation of the Arthur Kopit play,
the western parody A Talent for Loving (1969), from a Richard Condon novel,
The Moonshine War (1970), an adaptation of the Elmore Leonard novel,
the psychological thriller W (1974),
The Prisoner of Zenda (1979), yet another adaptation of the
Anthony Hope novel but with comedian Peter Sellers,
and the farce The Fiendish Plot of Dr. Fu Manchu (1980), another Peter Sellers vehicle.