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Unfaithfully Yours

By Cole Haddon | Posted 10/8/2008

Writer/director Preston Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours would be an ambitious piece of comic moviemaking in any decade, but it's all the more impressive for the fact that it first hit screens in 1948. Starring Rex Harrison as celebrated symphony conductor Sir Alfred de Carter, the story begins conventionally enough with Alfred, on the day of a big concert, unwittingly discovering his wife, Daphne (Linda Darnell), is having an affair with his secretary, Anthony (Kurt Kreuger). Alfred quickly plans the perfect revenge murder that sees him, with macabre glee, slash Daphne to pieces and perfectly frame Anthony for the crime. That's when Sturges pulls out from Alfred's smile and you discover he's in the middle of that performance he was stressing over. Alfred, it seems, is plotting his wife's demise as he conducts. Next, he imagines another alternative: pretending the situation away in order to go on with his life with Daphne. Next: killing himself by Russian roulette. By the time the concert finally ends and Alfred decides to choose fantasy No. 1, he botches every element of it. The degree of Hitchcockian sophistication he imagined vanishes, and he's revealed as a bumbler. The black comedy, which frightened audiences at the time, feels fresher than ever today--up until the late '40s-appropriate resolution.

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