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I was about thirteen when I saw Unfaithfully Yours in a nearly empty movie theater. My cousin and I would go see anything that played at our local theater, and this week it was Dudley Moore's turn. I had no idea the film was based on an earlier work, let alone one directed by someone called "Preston Sturges," but I actually enjoyed Unfaithfully Yours -- despite that fact that easily 75% of the PG-level sexual innuendoes flew right over my head.
So here we are, 21 years later (damn I'm old), and ready for a revisit with the non-Sturges Unfaithfully Yours -- and let's just say time has not been kind to the film. (Full admission: I've still not seen the original version!) The central problem, and it's one that nags at you for the entire movie, is that we're meant to believe Nastassja Kinski (and keep in mind we're talking about the early-80s Nastassja Kinski) is deeply and passionately in love with Dudley Moore. Yes, that Dudley Moore. Don't get me wrong, the guy's done some brilliant comedy work, but he'll never be confused for someone that Nastassja Kinski could fall in love with.
So Dudley is all-but-entirely convinced that Nastassja is cheating on him with the hunky Armand Assante. In Dudley's corner are the whining ball of neuroses that is Albert Brooks and a mumble-mouthed Italian stereotype played by Richard Libertini. Dudley goes from mildly skeptical to wholly maniacal with no rhyme or reason, and the whole thing finishes up with an elaborately incongruous dream sequence about vengeful murder ... that yields a brief (and fairly desperate) finale full of blunders and buffoons.
I might be getting a bit nastier than Unfaithfully Yours really deserves. To the film's credit, it does move forward at a brisk clip, and a few of the supporting performances elevate the tedium just a bit. (Brooks, as usual, is a particular standout.) But Unfaithfully Yours, as directed by Howard (Private Benjamin) Zieff, is firmly rooted in an early-80s mindset. Apparently, in those times, there was nothing funnier than the topics of divorce, adultery, and male midlife crisis -- but nowadays these movies seem permanently stuck in antiquity. The fact that Moore's character could simply ASK his lovely young wife about her extra-curriculur activities is something that nags at you for the entire 90-some minutes.
Adapted from Mr. Sturges' original screenplay by Robert (Weekend at Bernie's) Klane and the then-married screenwriting duo of Valerie Curtin & Barry Levinson (yes, that Barry Levinson), Unfaithfully Yours offers what, at the time, was a "modern" spin on the age-old issue of marital infidelity -- but what happens when "modern" isn't modern anymore? You're left with a slow trickle of a sex farce, a movie that's not exactly awful, although it is exceedingly dry and consistently desperate.
Video: You choose between a Widescreen Anamorphic (1.85:1) and Fullscreen (1.33:1) aspect ratio, and while the Widescreen is (obviously) the way to go, the transfer doesn't exactly scream quality. Focus on the background of any particular scene and you're bound to notice a granular tackiness that all but permeates the whole movie.
Audio: One of the film's more noteworthy qualities is the music. Moore plays a respected composer, so there's plenty of chances to hear some great classical music. The Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo track, while no great shakes, is solid enough to enjoy the rapid-fire dialogue and the orchestral music sections. Also included are Mono audio tracks in English, Spanish, and French. Ditto subtitles in the same languages.
Extras: The original theatrical trailer.
As soon as the original version of Unfaithfully Yours is released on DVD, I'll be among the first to check it out. But I need not see the original to accurately judge the remake, and I'm a bit disappointed to note that Unfaithfully Yours was considerably funnier in my memory than it is in actuality. You could do a heck of a lot worse, I suppose (heck, Dudley Moore's done a lot crappier than this!), but unless you're already a huge fan of the flick, I can't recommend this one with any sort of enthusiasm.