The last of Sturges's Hollywood films, and one of his finest. This farce of misconceptions, infidelities, and murder is a brilliantly stylish work that imaginatively squeezes everything it can from the film medium.
Harrison, in a marvelous performance, is a famous British conductor married to Darnell. The two are much in love, but, when Harrison returns from Europe, a seed of jealously is planted in his mind by his brother-in-law, Vallee. It seems that Vallee had a private detective, Kennedy, follow Darnell
through her daily activities, and his report, which Harrison refuses to look at, suggests that Darnell indulged in some extracurricular activities with Harrison's private secretary, Kreuger, when the conductor was abroad. Harrison tears up the report and throws it out of his hotel room, but
eventually the pages are put back together and wind up back in Harrison's hands. This time Harrison burns the document, nearly setting his dressing room ablaze. However, Harrison slowly begins to think there just might be something to the report, so he goes to Kennedy's office. Kennedy, it turns
out, is a big fan of Harrison (who loves how the conductor "handles Handel") and dredges up the original report from his files. Now Harrison's jealous imagination goes wild. That night, as he begins conducting Rossini's "Semiramide" overture at a concert, the camera zeros in on Harrison's eye. The
scene flashes to Harrison and Darnell as they return to their hotel room. As part of an elaborate plan, Harrison has arranged for Darnell to spend a night on the town with Kreuger. Using his straight razor, Harrison murders his wife, then sets up the room so Kreuger will appear to be the culprit.
Harrison's plan works to perfection, and the conductor laughs maniacally when Kreuger is found guilty of the crime. The music comes to a conclusion, and the camera pulls away from Harrison's eye, back to the concert. The entire scenario has taken place in his mind, as do the next two sequences. To
the accompaniment of Wagner's "Tannhauser" overture, Harrison imagines writing a fat check for Darnell, enabling her to run off with her young lover. Finally, with Tchaikovsky's "Francesca da Rimini" wafting in the background, Harrison challenges Darnell and Kreuger to a game of Russian roulette.
He ends up with a bullet in his temple as the concert comes to an end. Harrison, now convinced that Darnell and Kreuger are dallying behind his back, returns to his hotel room and tries to set up the murderous plan he imagined during the concert. His real-life plans are a disaster, and Harrison
finally realizes that Kennedy's report was the result of many misconceptions.
UNFAITHFULLY YOURS is a near perfect combination of sound and image. Sturges orchestrates the fantasy sequences with care and precision, using editing and performance rhythms that are in perfect synch with the underscoring music. Harrison is a sheer delight, turning in a devilish performance
brimming with wit and style. Darnell, Kreuger, Vallee, and Lawrence fill out the lead roles with elegance and wit, while consummate character player Kennedy adds a nice touch of buffoonery. Sturges had gotten the idea of music affecting the conductor's thoughts while writing the screenplay for THE
POWER AND THE GLORY. "I had a scene all written and had only to put it down on paper. To my surprise, it came out quite unlike what I had planned," Sturges said later. "I sat back wondering what the hell had happened, then noticed that someone had left the radio on in the next room and realized
that I had been listening to a symphony broadcast from New York and that this, added to my thoughts, had changed the total." (Quoted in James Curtis, Between Flops.)
Despite many critical plaudits, UNFAITHFULLY YOURS never caught on with the public--an undeserved fate for a film of such brilliance. It was remade in 1984 by Howard Zieff with Dudley Moore and Nastassja Kinski as leads.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The last of Sturges's Hollywood films, and one of his finest. This farce of misconceptions, infidelities, and murder is a brilliantly stylish work that imaginatively squeezes everything it can from the film medium. Harrison, in a marvelous performance, is… (more)