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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A GUIDE FOR THE MARRIED MAN (1967)

It’s all downhill once The Turtles finish the catchy title tune in this broadly played MAD MEN-era sex farce about the Joys of Infidelity. Walter Matthau, the sheepish husband of Inger Stevens, is tutored by randy Robert Morse, his more experienced pal, on the safe & respectful way to cheat on your wife. But the film’s big gimmick is having a bunch of famous comics make cameo appearances for each lesson. If only the skits were funny or stylish or hip or even surprising, but Frank Tarloff’s sketches wouldn’t make the cut on LOVE, AMERICAN STYLE. Jack Benny & Phil Silvers survive, they’re more or less indestructible, and Joey Bishop, of all people, gets the one funny bit. Go figure. Gene Kelly’s megging is coarser than it needs to be, with depth-free staging that his fancy camera tricks do little to hide. Yet, the basic idea was naughty enough to make this a commercial hit, big enough for Kelly to get HELLO, DOLLY! as his next gig. That pretty much finished him off.

CONTEST: Make the connection between this film and Frtiz Lang’s 1931 classic M to win a MAKSQUIBS Write-Up of any NetFlix DVD.

WATCH THIS, NOT THAT: If you want to see Bobby Morse in full MAD MEN regalia, check out his signature role in Frank Loesser’s satirical musical HOW TO SUCCEED IN BUSINESS/’67. And you can see Matthau making the suburban sexual rounds for real in Richard Quine’s heartfelt STRANGERS WHEN WE MEET.’60 which stars Kirk Douglas & Kim Novak, both at their best.

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