I had my first belly-laugh within seconds, a wonderful sight gag, and was chortling all the way through this London-set battle-of-the-sexes comedy. Rock Hudson is a high-flying businessman who needs to win back long-estranged wife Gina Lollobrigida in order to gain promotion in a family-conscious oil company. Initially, Hudson re-discovers the reasons he had first fallen in love with her but then, of course, only too bitterly, why they split. Hudson and La Lollo had previously teamed up for Come September (1963) and Hudson had spent most of the early 1960s in romantic mishap with Doris Day so he could call on an extensive range of baffled and enraged expressions. Lollobrigida is an artist-cum-political-firebrand which sets up hilarious consequence. Gig Young is on hand to act as referee.
There’s some marvelous comic invention, a conversation between the two principals relayed through taxi controllers turns into a masterpiece of the misheard and misunderstood. Complications arise from Lollobrigida’s fiance Edward Judd (First Men on the Moon, 1964), also an activist, but on the pompous side, and an Italian lothario. Taking advantage of the less than congenial London weather, there are jokes aplenty about umbrellas and in a nod to farce occasions for Hudson to lose his trousers and share a bed with the fiance. Smoldering sexual tension also kindles many laughs. By the time the film enters its stride it’s one comedic situation after another. It being England, naturally enough Lady Godiva is involved.
Hudson in suave mode trying to cope with the feisty Lollobrigida is an ideal comedy match. Costume designer Jean Louis has swathed the actress in a stunning array of outfits, some of which leave little to the imagination. When Doris Day got angry you tended to laugh, not quite believing this was anything more than a moderate hissy fit, but if you crossed Lollobrigida you were apt to get both barrels and it never looked like acting, she was a very convincing when she switched on the fury engine, plus, of course, whatever she threw added both to the comedy and her character’s conviction. Both have terrific comic timing.
Writer-director Melvin Frank was something of a comedy specialist, a dab hand at suiting comedy to screen persona having previously set up Road to Hong Kong (1962) and Mr. Blandings Builds a Dream House (1948). Terry-Thomas makes an appearance as a comic mortician and there are parts for English comedian Arthur Haynes and Dave King. Hudson and Lollobrigida exude screen charisma and while not in the class of Come September this delivers enough laughs to make you wonder why they don’t make them like that anymore.
You should find this in Amazon Prime.
4 thoughts on “Strange Bedfellows (1963) ****”
This sounds better than might be expected, good cast too. I guess this hasn’t aged well in the public mind, so worth setting the record straight….
When Doris Day split with Hudson screenwise I think the critics sided with Day. I was surprised to enjoy it so much and will check out Come September at some point.
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Have always enjoyed this and Come September. Gina was also entertaining in Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell with Lawford, Silvers n Savalas. Gina was fabulous in most of her movies!
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Glad this went down well. I’ve got Come September on my list for review as well as Buona Sera plus Man’s Favorite Sport and Woman of Straw. Not sure when, but at some point.