Sex and the Single Girl (1964)

Sex and the Single Girl (1964)

Synopsis:

Bob Weston (Tony Curtis, The Defiant Ones) is the managing editor of a sleazy magazine. After writing a hit piece on Dr. Brown (Natalie Wood, Splendor in the Grass) and her bestselling book Sex and the Single Girl, Weston realizes that the chances of getting an interview with Brown are slim, so he contacts Brown under false pretenses. Then Weston starts collecting “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 retreat into the heyday of the screwball comedy. It’s a bit sloppy and not funny enough, but the leading actors are good and the supporting cast is interesting.

The title is deceiving: Sex and the Single Girl is old-fashioned, even prudish. Oh yes, there are lots of sexual innuendos, but there is not a single frank conversation about sex in the entire film. The film wants to capitalize on changes in American values, but seems afraid to offend viewers.

The cast tries to make up for the absence of pluck. Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood make a nice screen couple. There is a hilarious running gag about Curtis being mistaken for actor Jack Lemmon. Interestingly, Wood, Curtis and Lemmon will appear together next in Blake Edwards’s live-cartoon The Great Race (1964), a truly great comedy.

I sort of felt bad for actors Henry Fonda (The Grapes of Wrath), Lauren Bacall (To Have and Have Not) and Mel Ferrer (Knights of the Round Table), great actors who deserve better — they are totally wasted in secondary and superfluous roles.

Veteran character actor Edward Everett Horton (Here Comes Mr. Jordan and Arsenic and Old Lace) fares much better than Fonda, Bacall and Ferrer — he steals every scene he’s in. Sexy Fran Jeffries (The Pink Panther) performs a few songs. Otto Kruger’s (Duel in the Sun and High Noon) final film. The script and director Quine’s heavy-handed touch, not the actors, are to blame for the frequent mishaps.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Sex and the Single Girl is merely amusing. The film has a pretty good plot, but execution leaves a lot to be desired. I did love the final surreal chase sequence — it was an unexpected gift in this erratic sex farce. Author Joseph Heller (Catch-22) co-wrote the script. Color, 110 minutes, Not Rated.

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