Sex and the Single Girl (1964)

Sex and the Single Girl (1964)


Bob Weston (Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones) is the managing editor of the sleazy magazine ‘Stop’. After Weston writes a hit piece on psychiatrist Dr. Helen Gurley Brown (Natalie Wood, West Side Story), the author of the current best-seller ‘Sex and the Single Girl’, he realizes that the chances of getting an interview with Brown are slim to none, so he contacts Brown under false pretenses. Then Weston starts collecting information (aka dirt) for another nasty article on the unsuspecting doctor.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Sex and the Single Girl, directed by Richard Quine (How to Murder Your Wife), is a purposely silly retreat to the heydays of the screwball comedies.

The title is deceiving — the film is quite coy and prudish. Oh yes, there are lots of sexual innuendos, but there is not a single frank conversation about sex in the entire film. It wants to capitalize on the changes in American values, but it is afraid to explore new sexual trends. Joseph Heller co-wrote the script, but you won’t find any of the brilliant satire that distinguishes his immortal classic Catch-22.

The cast tries (sometimes too) hard to make up for the absence of grit. Curtis and Wood are charming, but they lack the comedic timing of Rock Hudson and Doris Day. However, there is a hilarious running gag about Curtis being mistaken for actor Jack Lemmon (a nod to Billy Wilder’s 1959 classic Some Like it Hot). Interestingly, Wood, Curtis and Lemmon would appear together next in Blake Edwards’s live-cartoon The Great Race (1964).

I sort of felt bad for Henry Fonda (Jezebel and Jesse James), Lauren Bacall (Designing Woman and The Fan) and Mel Ferrer (War and Peace), who are totally wasted in secondary roles. Fonda allegedly was ashamed of his performance. He’s okay; the script and director Quine’s heavy-handed touch are to blame for the occasional mishap. Veteran character actor Edward Everett Horton (A Pocketful of Miracles) steals every scene he’s in, and sexy Fran Jeffries performs a few songs.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Sex and the Single Girl is merely amusing. The final surreal chase sequence is an unexpected gift in this silly, erratic farce. Otto Kruger’s (High Noon) final film. Color, 110 minutes, Not Rated.


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