Sir Alfred De Carter (Sir Rex Harrison) suspects his wife of infidelity. While conducting a symphony orchestra, he imagines three different ways of dealing with the situation. When the concert ends, he tries acting out his fantasies, but things do not go as well in reality as they did in his imagination.
John Oswalt <[email protected]>
User Reviews: Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
I’ve never quite loved Preston Sturges as a director or Rex Harrison as an actor, so having the two of them together here didn’t bode well, and I thought I’d announce my bias. And sure enough, on this second viewing I was reminded of a kind of crisp calculation that both of them have. Sturges makes amazing movies, no question, and the best of them (Palm Beach Story is my favorite) are hilarious classics. To see this one for what it offers you might first see a classic Sturges screwball from 1941 or 1942. But even those are clinical at heart (if they have a heart), so it’s a little like sipping a very dry, clean martini and getting drunk. Alone. No olives. Wit and sophistication do better in the hands of Cole Porter, somehow, but see for yourself.
Harrison the actor overcomes his harsh demeanor in a movie like My Fair Lady because the music and the style there give him some kind of liberty, but here he is supposed to be sympathetic in his demented cruelty, and I only wish him failure. He is, to be sure, plotting the death of his wife. Three times. And then the fourth, beyond the symphony podium, with its madcap bedlam. It’s funny in that zany way you have to laugh at. And you will laugh.
I love classical music and like the structure of the film, but as usual with Sturges, this structure makes the whole process detached and too too clever. Sturges himself wrote the screenplay for this idea way back in 1932, and if it had been shot then, before the Hays code, before the real rise of screwball, we would have had a very different movie. But what we have here is admirable and interesting, for sure, if not the zinger it could have been with a different tilt.