Kiss Me, Stupid is not likely to corrupt any sensible audience. But there is a cheapness and more than a fair share of crudeness about the humor of a contrived double adultery situation that a husband-wife combo stumble into. In short, the Billy Wilder-I.A.L. Diamond script - the credits say it was triggered by an Italian play, L'ora della fantasia by Anna Bonacci - calls for a generous seasoning of Noel Coward but, unfortunately, it provides a dash of same only now and again.

Kiss Me, Stupid is not likely to corrupt any sensible audience. But there is a cheapness and more than a fair share of crudeness about the humor of a contrived double adultery situation that a husband-wife combo stumble into. In short, the Billy Wilder-I.A.L. Diamond script – the credits say it was triggered by an Italian play, L’ora della fantasia by Anna Bonacci – calls for a generous seasoning of Noel Coward but, unfortunately, it provides a dash of same only now and again.

Wilder, usually a director of considerable flair and inventiveness (if not always impeccable taste), has not been able this time out to rise above a basically vulgar, as well as creatively delinquent, screenplay, and he has got at best only plodding help from two of his principals, Dean Martin and Kim Novak.

The thespic mainstays are Ray Walston and Cliff Osmond, while Felicia Farr registers nicely as the former’s attractive and sexually aggressive wife.

Wilder has directed with frontal assault rather than suggestive finesse the means by which Walston and Osmond, a pair of amateur songwriters in a Nevada waystop – called Climax – on the route from Las Vegas to California, contrive to bag girl-crazy star Martin and sell him on their ditties. Idea is to make Martin stay overnight in Walston’s house, to get latter’s wife out of the way by creating a domestic crisis and substitute as wife for a night of accommodation with the celebrity a floozy (Novak) from a tavern.

The score, which figures rather prominently as story motivation and is orchestrated appropriately under the baton of Andre Previn, carries the unusual credit of songs by Ira and George Gershwin. Introed are three unpublished melodies by the long deceased composer to which brother Ira has provided special lyrics.

Kiss Me, Stupid

Production

Phalanx/Minsch. Director Billy Wilder; Producer Billy Wilder; Screenplay Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond; Camera Joseph LaShelle; Editor Daniel Mandell; Music Andre Previn; Art Director Alexandre Trauner

Crew

(B&W) Widescreen. Available on VHS, DVD. Extract of a review from 1964. Running time: 126 MIN.

With

Dean Martin Kim Novak Ray Walston Felicia Farr Cliff Osmond Barbara Pepper
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