Monday, January 14, 2013

The outlier among Sturges' masterpieces

I've become engrossed with the films of PRESTON STURGES early in 2013, having received a clutch of the writer-director's classic films on DVD for Christmas.
"UNFAITHFULLY YOURS" is what you would call the "outlier" of the bunch.
Fantasy scenes and nastiness punctuate this 1948 film, unlike the screwball comedies Sturges made earlier in the decade.
REX HARRISON is wonderful as a famous conductor who suspects his loving wife has been cheating on him with his personal assistant.
While conducting, Harrison imagines a variety of scenes in which he humiliates her, stuns her with grief, or kills her.
Audiences apparently balked at this side of Sturges, and "Unfaithfully Yours" languished enough to effectively curtail his American career.
Sturges was dead of a heart attack 11 years later.
Now, critics laud "Unfaithfully Yours" as a misunderstood masterpiece.
I like it, too. Harrison is especially good as a highly valued artist whose artistry and fame enables him to get away with public behavior for which the rest of us would be penalized.


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