13 March 2006 | grahamclarke
Unlikely coupling sparkles on screen
Sophia Loren and Barbara Nichols as best buddies ? Tab Hunter and Sophia as a couple ? You have to admit it has a ring of absurdity about it and yet not only does it work, it works quite magically in this modest, extremely winning film.
From its earliest days the movie industry plucked from obscurity those blessed with good looks, thrusting them to instant stardom. Besides their physical attributes, some had an innate ability to act, others were coached and with time learned their craft, while many simply never quite got the hang of it. Sophia Loren clearly belongs to those for whom acting came as natural as did her beauty. "That Kind of Woman" was made in the period of her first English language films. By this time she had an easy command of the language and complete command as a starring screen presence.
From his earlier films it's pretty evident that Tab Hunter did not quite possess an innate acting ability, although he certainly deserves full marks for effort. However, after seven years in the business he had acquired some skills and under Sidney Lumet's direction he delivers an excellent performance. It's nicely underplayed, combining just the right balance of strength and vulnerability. He was also in the prime of his legendary handsomeness.
The success of screen romances is largely based on chemistry. From their very first scene together, there's a surprisingly genuine chemistry between Loren and Hunter which is the very core of the story.
There's wonderful support from George Sanders, Barbara Nichols, Keenan Wynn and a terrific, young Jack Warden.
All in all, a somewhat forgotten but immensely enjoyable film.