[Film Review] Unfaithfully Yours (1948)

Unfaithfully Yours poster.jpg

Title: Unfaithfully Yours
Year: 1948
Country: USA
Language: English
Genre: Comedy, Music, Romance
Director/Writer: Preston Sturges
Cinematography: Victor Milner
Cast:
Rex Harrison
Linda Darnell
Rudy Vallee
Barbara Lawrence
Kurt Kreuger
Lionel Stander
Edgar Kennedy
Al Bridge
Julius Tannen
Torben Meyer
Rating: 7.8/10

Unfaithfully Yours 1948.jpg

Golden-Age Hollywood screwball fabricator Preston Sturges’ last feature film worthy of his caliber, UNFAITHFULLY YOURS stars Rex Harrison as a renowned conductor Sir Alfred de Carter, on the eve of his concert, he is deviled by the paranoia that his much younger wife Daphne (Darnell) might have an extramarital affair with his personal secretary Anthony Windborn (Kreuger) thanks to his philistine brother-in-law August Henshler (Vallee)’s presumptuous misconstruction.

The apprehension and exasperation of being cuckolded hangs like a rock over Alfred’s mind and Sturges only knows all too well, that for a man of Alfred’s Brobdingnagian ego, the last thing to do is to lay bare his suspicion point blank in front of Daphne, from blunt rebuke to mounting curiosity, until firmly convinced by the circumstantial evidence, it all comes down to an increasingly fractious Alfred envisages three possible outcomes when wielding his baton in front of a full symphony orchestra and a full-house audience.

Every scenario is pertinently induced by a different classical piece from romantic-era he conducts and introduced by a cracking zooming-in shot right into Alfred’s eyeball, the overture of Rossini’s baroque SEMIRAMIDE triggers a murderous plan A which a framed Anthony to take the rap, yet what Wagner’s operatic TANNHÄUSER suggests is a plan B with lenience and munificence, whereas plan C of a Russian roulette derring-do is influenced by Tchaikovsky’s symphonic poem FRANCESCA DA RIMINI, a special treat for musos and cinephiles alike.

Sardonically, reality is, more often than not, not exactly what we have imagined, so during his execution of one of the plans after the concert (interestingly, the choice of the plan betrays Sturges’ arch amalgamation of comedy and morbidness), a knockabout transpires in a slightly labored fashion which plays up to Alfred’s clumsiness, and he is merely stuck in the preparatory step with the “so-simple-it-operates-itself” home recording unit when Daphne returns, thus an air-clearing finale is all we need to put everything back to the status quo.

A motor-mouthed Rex Harrison simulates a great impression as a conductor and relishes Sturges’ long-winded screenplay which jollily throws barbs to the folly of machismo, meanwhile, Linda Darnell is hobbled as a virtuous beauty with a little more to act (albeit it is all in one’s figment), yet, quintessentially it is Sturges’ trademark witticism and sleight-of-hand that marks this oldie a treasure to be appreciated by posterity and here is the takeaway quip to round off my review – “If there is one reassuring thing about airplane, they always come down.”

referential point: Sturges’ SULLIVAN’S TRAVELS (1941, 7.1/10); David Lean’s BLITHE SPIRIT (1945, 7.3/10).

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