23 April 2003 | gregcouture
An unexpectedly pleasurable gem!
I wasn't quite prepared for how much I enjoyed this sophisticated (but certainly not too much so) romp when I caught it during its first-run release. I thought it so well-executed in every department that I was delighted to note that it's now available in a DVD edition with its Panavision widescreen ratio restored. But unfortunately the audio element is so bad (requiring turning the volume way up to even begin to hear the dialogue, and a music score that's mangled beyond belief) that I had to return the disc for a refund. Fortunately Turner Classic Movies recently showed it and the soundtrack was not a problem, making possible a fairly decent high-fidelity VHS recording.
The two young actresses who played the very natural but entirely madcap duo who precipitate most of the plot's ins-'n-outs are completely charming and they are supported by an extraordinarily well-chosen cast of top-notch professionals. Angela Lansbury, never an actress to shrink from the somewhat less savory aspects of a character she's playing, strikes just the right note as a socialite whose maternal instincts are close to non-existent. I do remember wishing that Paula Prentiss had been given more to do, but I suppose getting mistaken for Jayne Mansfield (in one of the film's funnier sequences) wasn't something to be sneezed at. As the film's title character, Peter Sellers wasn't permitted by director George Roy Hill to unbalance the proceedings. And it certainly seems that scenarist Nora Johnson had inherited more than a modicum of her father Nunnally's professional good taste. This one is a treat for all but the dyspeptic and the excessively demanding.