10 September 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
Saw 'Drop Dead Darling' as part of my Tony Curtis completest quest after being recommended many of his films here in the recommended for you section. It was not something that was intended initially but actually it has proven to be a generally worthwhile experience, even with a couple of missteps.
While there were and are better actors about and he didn't always look comfortable in his early films, Curtis was always immensely likeable and had a charming charisma with many good and more performances under his belt. The cover and premise (haven't admittedly read the source material) were great and the cast is a talented one, have always liked Lionel Jeffries in particular.
'Drop Dead Darling' turned out to be watchable with enough strengths to keep it afloat, but it did disappoint and could have been much better.
The cast is its main selling point and the best thing about it. Curtis exudes both charm and creepiness in a despicable "Bluebeard" sort of role, with enough to him to make it easy to see what others see in him, one doesn't associate with him. Rosanna Schiaffino is an alluring presence and is no slouch in the acting stakes. Jeffries could have had more to do but makes much of what he has. Zsa Zsa Gabor, in briefly but one of her better performances actually, and Anna Quayle bring some welcome very funny light-heartedness, especially Quayle.
Other than those two's scenes, the other highlight is the tense chemistry between Curtis and Schiaffino, followed by the croquet match. There are enough moments of amusement, especially in the first half. 'Drop Dead Darling' looks good, with beauty and atmosphere in the way it's shot.
However, 'Drop Dead Darling' fares less good in the darker elements, where there is not enough tension or suspense let alone creepiness or surprises. It feels bland and sometimes tasteless, and some of the final act is aimless. Tonally the film feels muddled, mixing light hearted comedy with a dark undercurrent that jars too much and makes it all rather mean-spirited. The comedic scenes fare better but are similarly uneven and could have been more. While the cast are more than game, Nancy Kwan has practically nothing to do and makes no impression at all.
Found the script weak in spots, with some clumsy attempts at breaking the fourth wall. The direction is workmanlike at best with no real distinction or inspiration. The music does its job alright on its own, but it's also somewhat forgettable and didn't seem to fit particularly well or be harmonious with the film's tone. The pace can be dreary in the latter stages.
In summation, not bad but nothing special. The cast and some good scenes make it watchable, it's just let down by most of everything else. 5/10 Bethany Cox