Dedications: My four late friends Rory, Stan, Bryan, Jeff - shine on you crazy diamonds, they would have blogged too. Then theres Garry from Brisbane, Franco in Milan, Mike now in S.F. / my '60s-'80s gang: Ned & Joseph in Ireland; in England: Frank, Des, Guy, Clive, Joe & Joe, Ian, Ivan, Nick, David, Les, Stewart, the 3 Michaels / Catriona, Sally, Monica, Jean, Ella, Anne, Candie / and now: Daryl in N.Y., Jerry, John, Colin, Martin and Donal.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

1964 again: Sex and the single girl ...

Another 1964 sex comedy ? After GOODBYE CHARLIE (below), I thought SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL would be amusing again now - I know I saw it back then, when 18, but its never popped up since. In fact I hated it so much I can hardly bring myself to speak of it. Shall we just ignore it and it will go away again ...... well, lets say a few words. 

On the plus side: Natalie Wood never looked better than here, it is her great period, and she wears some nifty outfits too (Edith Head). Neal Hefti did the score, and Count Basie also appears. Its another Richard Quine comedy - Quine had a good run in the 50s: his films with Kim Novak, like BELL BOOK AND CANDLE which we like a lot (see Novak label), that musical I was praising recently: MY SISTER EILEEN, melodrama like STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET, and that nice one with Doris and Jack: IT HAPPENED TO JANE in 1959. The Sixties though were different: the limp NOTORIOUS LANDLADY, I never saw PARIS WHEN IT SIZZLES but seems it fizzles. HOW TO MURDER YOUR WIFE was a hit though.

A womanizing reporter for a sleazy tabloid magazine impersonates his hen-pecked neighbor in order to get an expose on renowned psychologist Helen Gurley Brown.

Using the title of the best-seller a script was fashioned by Joseph (CATCH 22) Heller, but it is all so unfunny and dated in the worst way. I liked GOODBYE CHARLIE recently but at least that was from a George Axelrod play, but this one is just laboured and dull as publisher Curtis, on autopilot here, tries to compromise author Dr Brown. Natalie certainly throws herself into it, with lots of long scenes and endless speeches. Left on the sidelines are Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall as the warring neighbours whose problems Curtis uses to woo Wood. It must have been a difficult time for Bacall - still a working actress but not yet a Broadway legend and a long way from HOW TO MARRY A MILLIONAIRE or DESIGNING WOMAN. In fact Curtis, gallant as ever, accused her of being an older star trying to hang out with the younger ones, when in fact she was just one year older than him, but had been in movies earlier. She seems exasperated here while Fonda just looks embarrassed. Theres also Fran Jeffries who gets to sing a bit (as she did in THE PINK PANTHER in '63), Leslie Parrish, Mel Ferrrer, Edward Everett  Horton. Larry Storch, Stubby Kaye - all wasted.

As an IMDb reviewer put it: Here is a movie that could have been a 60s classic lampooning tabloid journalism, skin-deep psychology, proto-feminism, marital problems, hypocrisy, and sexual freedom. Instead, it is a cartoonish pastiche of amateurish slapstick, poorly-time jokes, silly contrived situations, and one of the most idiotic and long car chases in the history of cinema. The idea of a sleazy editor doing a hatchet job on a 23-year-old virgin psychologist who has written a bestseller affirming the sexual lives of single women should certainly have hilarious possibilities - specially if he is a liar, she cannot handle her own feelings, and they are sexually attracted to each other. However, the script is ludicrous and inconsistent often degenerating into total silliness.

It must have been a difficult time for sex comedies as the swinging decade had yet to get underway ... the Rock and Doris comedies were sheer class, COME SEPTEMBER, THE THRILL OF IT ALL, THE PINK PANTHER, WHATS NEW PUSSYCAT? are perennial favourites and even 1964's GOOD NEIGHBOUR SAM had its moments, but SEX AND THE SINGLE GIRL is just painfully unfunny and dated now. That scene where they (Tony and Natalie) fall into the water and try to stay afload is not funny at all now. Then they all go zooming off to the airport (cue lots of back projection) in a silly ending. Its certainly one I do not want to re-visit or even think about ever again, and I thought PRUDENCE AND THE PILL was bad ! Super Trash then.

Soon: Tony and Janet in the long-unseen 1958 comedy THE PERFECT FURLOUGH (or STRICTLY FOR PLEASURE), I loved that as a kid, will I still like it now ? 


  1. Michael! Give "The Notorious Landlady" at second chance. Please. The script by Blake Edwards and Larry Gelbart, by way of a short story by Margery Sharp, is urbane and witty. Quine's Hitchcock references are astute and the Gilbert and Sullivan finale is priceless. -J

  2. Thanks, I do have a copy filed away, been ages since I have seen it. London set American films are always amusing as to how they present life here, and usually with some interesting supporting players ...