Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Kiss Me, Stupid

Kiss Me, Stupid; Comedy, USA, 1964; D: Billy Wilder, S: Ray Walston, Kim Novak, Dean Martin, Felicia Farr Cliff Osmond, Skip Ward, Barbara Pepper

Dino is a famous playboy singer who is only interested in women. On his way to Hollywood, he stops with his car in a small provincial town, Climax. There he gets recognized by auto mechanic Barney and his friend Orville who want to sell him their songs in order to achieve a great music career. Orville takes Dino to his home, but fearing his Casanova mentality he sets up a fight with his wife Zelda in order to remove her to a "safe place". Instead of her, he hires the prostitute Polly to play his wife, letting Dino seduce her in order for him to buy his song. Dino really lands with Polly in bed, but Orville suddenlly changes his mind and throws him out of his house. Accidentally, Dino meets Zelda and thinks she is a prostitute. She then persuades him to buy a song. That way Orville still becomes famous.

"The doctor forbid me to drink alcohol. That's why I now freeze my drinks and eat them like an ice cream", says the character of Dino in the exposition of the film on stage, causing the whole audience to laugh - except one waiter who doesn't get the joke. Unfortunately, a large part of the audience will also feel just like him because there isn't much to get in the incoherent structure of one of Billy Wilder's lesser films, "Kiss Me, Stupid". Back in 1964, some critics were completely wrong to attack the film as 'immoral', but their critiques weren't without a reason since many felt cheated because Dean Martin was announced as the main protagonist in the film - even though he is only a supporting character. And a bad guy on top of that, the sleazy playboy Dino. In reality, the main protagonist is the smutty Orville, a fanatic musician who even wears a photo shot of Beethoven on his shirt and is terribly jealous (in once scene he calls the dentist and asks him if his wife is with him. The dentists, stoned from laughing gas, asks him with laughter: "Who is there?", upon he replies with: "Her husband!"). Peter Seller's heart attack prevented him to play Orville which is a shame since the comedian could have added a better spark to the role than Ray Walston - it's obvious that the part was originally meant for a big comic star, and while Walston does his best, he is simply not gifted enough as a comedian. But the main problem is the film's ridiculous plot tangle in which Orville chases away his wife in order to hire a prostitute to play her, 'just in case' that Dino plans to seduce her, since it's simply too chaotic to work, bringing out Wilder's worst flaws.


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