Tuesday, March 1, 2022

Rex Harrison and Linda Darnell in Preston Sturges's "Unfaithfully Yours"

Unfaithfully Yours (1948) is a black comedy written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Rex Harrison and Linda Darnell. Rudy Vallee and Barbara Lawrence costar.

Sir Alfred de Carter (Harrison) is a famous conductor who is suspicious that his beautiful, young wife, Daphne (Darnell) has been unfaithful while he was away on tour. So obsessed is he about the possibility that she might be unfaithful that he fantasizes about how he might possibly avenge her betrayal.

Is Sir Alfred correct in his suspicions or has Daphne been faithful all along?

Linda Darnell and Rex Harrison

Preston Sturges (1898 - 1959) was an American playwright, screenwriter, and film director. Sturges was one of the first film directors to direct his own screenplays, opening up the door for Billy Wilder and Joseph L. Mankiewicz to do the same. Sturges was a successful playwright and Hollywood screenwriter and script doctor. As a writer-director, Sturges had an amazing output of films in a period of five years, all considered classics today. These films include The Great McGinty (1940), Christmas in July (1940), The Lady Eve (1941), Sullivan's Travels (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), Hail the Conquering Hero (1944), and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944). After leaving Paramount Pictures in a dispute with upper management, Sturges's career declined and he never produced anything close to the quality of his earlier successes. In spite of this decline, Sturges is considered one of the greatest talents to come out of Hollywood.

Rex Harrison (1908 - 1990) was an English stage and screen actor. He won a Best Actor Academy Award for his role as Professor Henry Higgins in My Fair Lady (1964). He created the role of Higgins on Broadway in 1957. Harrison established himself as a film star in England in the 1930s but he also found success in Hollywood in films like Anna and the King of Siam (1946), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), Cleopatra (1963), Doctor Dolittle (1967). He was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1989.

Linda Darnell (1923 – 1965) was an American film actress. She signed a contract with 20th Century-Fox at age 15 and became a star almost overnight. She was immediately cast opposite Tyrone Power in Day-Time Wife (1939). She made two films with Power in 1940: Brigham Young and The Mark of Zorro. In 1941, she was again paired with Power in Blood and Sand, which also starred an up-and-coming Rita Hayworth. Darnell’s most famous role was that of Amber St. Clair in Forever Amber (1946), which turned out the be the biggest hit of the year. The role of Amber was the most sought-after female role since the casting of Scarlett O’Hara in Gone with the Wind (1939). Other important films she starred in include Unfaithfully Yours (1948), A Letter to Three Wives (1949), and No Way Out (1950). She died tragically at age 41 in a fire while visiting friends in Glenview, Illinois

Unfaithfully Yours trivia
  • Linda Darnell was so excited at the prospect of working with Preston Sturges that she accepted the role of Daphne without seeing a script.
  • Darnell and Barbara Lawrence played sisters again in A Letter to Three Wives (1949).
  • Darnell played one of Harrison's many wives in Anna and the King of Siam (1946).
  • The film is considered a classic today but was a bit of a box office disappointment when released.
  • Harrison was having an affair with actress Carole Landis who committed suicide supposedly because he would not divorce his wife to marry her. This may have contributed to the film's performance at the box office.
Why watch this movie?
  • Any film written and directed by Preston Sturges is worth watching.
  • This was one of Rex Harrison's early Hollywood films.
  • Linda Darnell gets to show off her versatility as an actress and not just a great beauty.
  • Like all Sturges films, it is populated with a great supporting cast and bit players.
  • Unfaithfully Yours is often overlooked when reviewing the films of Preston Sturges.

To watch the film on YouTube, click on the link below.

To join the discussion on March 7, 2022, at 6:30 p.m. Central Time, click here. Once you RSVP, you'll receive an invitation with a link to the discussion on Zoom.

Discussion questions
  1. What genre would you categorize this film?
  2. What do you think motivated Harrison's character to think his wife is unfaithful?
  3. Was Harrison believable as a symphony conductor?
  4. What did you think of Darnell? 
  5. Did this film remind you of other films you've seen?

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