So, like most people, when I see a film called Sex and the Single Girl, I simply must watch it! Especially when the director is Robert Quine. While Quine is no Billy Wilder, he was the director behind many a decent film. My Sister Eileen, It Happened to Jane, and How to Murder Your Wife, all boasted a nice pairing of Quine and Jack Lemmon, and pretty decent storylines. Heck, if it worked with Jack Lemmon, it would definitely work with Tony Curtis, Right? Wrong.
The story has potential. A LOT of potential. And yet even with funny little quips about Jack Lemmon, the exquisite pairing of Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall and not horrid acting from Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis, there is still minimal enjoyment gained from this film. Based on the book of the same name by Helen Gurley Brown, one hopes to find an edgey, fun film in the vein of the Rock Hudson-Doris Day rom coms. But we can’t blame the actors for nothing more than perhaps not reading the script before accepting the roles. The plot is weak at best. Taking the role of Bob Weston, a tabloid writer, Curtis slowly evolves from a man who puts his trashy career first, to one willing to throw it all away for the possibility of Helen and Love. But there are some holes here that need filling. First being, Bob Weston is the proud owner of a lovely girlfriend named Gretchen, who is involved enough in the life of Bob, to know all about the menacing neighbors, Bacall and Fonda. Helen, played wonderfully by Natalie, goes from the smart, bestselling author to believing fake suicide pleas by a man supposedly in love with her. And did I mention Bob is pretending to be his hosiery-selling neighbor in order to get advice from Helen, and make everything seem kosher? The mind reels.
Again, there are holes. Whats worse is the attempt to tie up the loose storylines, which finally seem to resolve themselves in a half hour car race attempting to steal thunder from other excellent screwball comedies where car races actually belong. While there are some classic hollywood buffs that will find no fault with a film that attempts to relive the chemistry found in Curtis and Woods ” The Great Race,” this classic hollywood buff could find little more than the humor of the farcical exploitation of the consumer activated automat.
And the real kicker here is that Joseph Heller, the illustrious author of Catch-22 fame, wrote the screenplay. One must ask is this a classic multi-faceted screwball comedy or just bad?