8 September 2018 | TheLittleSongbird
A few flying moments but never properly leaves the ground
Saw 'Not With My Wife, You Don't!' 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 was also appetising, George C Scott was one fine actor and the story, while unoriginal, seemed really interesting. So there were all the ingredients here for it to work and really wanted to like it.
Unfortunately, 'Not With My Wife, You Don't!' didn't do anything for me. A few good things but what had the potential to fly high doesn't properly leave the ground. As said Curtis had missteps in his career, 'Not With My Wife, You Don't!' is one of them.
'Not With My Wife, You Don't!' as aforementioned has good points. It's a great-looking film and beautifully filmed in quite ravishing but never too glossy Technicolor. There are a few good scenes, with a colourful opening sequence, the temporarily gone blind one and especially the Italian film spoof (do agree that it is the highlight of the film).
Virna Lisi, sensuous and charming, gives the best performance. The music score is pleasant enough if not exactly memorable.
However, was disappointed in the big names. Curtis is in a role that on paper was in his comfort zone and one he should have been perfect for, his performance here felt stale, with a surprising lack of zest in his comic timing and the charm being missing, and like he was struggling to properly keep up. Was more let down by Scott, here cast in an atypical role and badly out of his depth with him trying far too hard and being too intense. Have absolutely nothing against actors being cast against type, there have been some great examples but Scott's very vast experience in intense heavyweight roles feels ill-suited for a lightweight film. The chemistry between the actors lacks sparkle.
The lack of sparkle is also present in the script. apart from the odd amusing line there is a lack of zest and wit and what might have been racy at the time comes over as tame and bland. It may not be as fluffy and smutty as one would fear, but it's nowhere near saucy enough and gets silly and limp. The direction is hardly inept, but it's not particularly distinguished or inspired, almost too safe. The story can be sluggish and content-wise it's far too slight, it needed a much lighter touch in a film that should be lightweight fluff but played and taken too seriously and it's pretty contrived.
In conclusion, lacklustre and a disappointment while with its moments. 4/10 Bethany Cox