Vegas crooner Dino is ambushed in Climax, Nevada by wannabe songwriters Orville J. Spooner and Barney Millsap, who pass off local hooker Polly the Pistol as Spooner's wife in the hope of seducing the singer into buying a few ditties.
Critics and the Catholic Legion of Decency had a field day over this shameless sex comedy. But had these people not seen The Seven Year Itch, The Apartment and Irma La Douce?
Billy Wilder had been steadily building up to this assault on the Production Code in order to expose the real morality of Kennedy-era America that was so teasingly alluded to in the coyly suggestive romps that Doris Day was making for Universal. Indeed, she might have been a shrewder choice than Kim Novak, who threw everything but talent at the part of the nasally congested, clumsily erotic Polly the Pistol, although the role really needed the kind of sensual vulnerability that only Marilyn Monroe possessed. Wilder was frustrated by casting problems throughout this withering satire on bourgeois mores and the balance of marital power. Although he secured Jack Lemmon's wife, Felicia Farr, for Zelda, a scheduling conflict meant that he had to plump for Peter Sellers as the amorally scheming piano teacher. But then, four weeks into shooting, Sellers suffered a series of massive heart attacks and Wilder had to bring in Ray Walston, who was so keen to play against the image created in TV's My Favorite Martian that he overdid the cruelty towards both Zelda and Polly and earned the film its misogynist reputation. Some of the gags fall flat and others seem unnecessarily provocative. But there's much to enjoy in this bold adaptation of Anna Bonacci's play. Like Gloria Swanson before him, in Sunset Blvd, Dean Martin heroically lampoons his Rat Pack persona as the bibulous, womanising crooner, while Farr was never better than as the housewife who teams with the whore to turn the tables on her chauvinist husband. Alexander Trauner's sets were a triumph of tawdry backwater kitsch, while Gene Kelly supposedly produced the off-the-cuff choreography for `Silvia' while visiting the set. However, the film's true glory are the excruciating songs, which were penned by George and Ira Gershwin (who provided the new lyrics) when they were first starting out
Impressive cast in this patchy sex comedy with some cringy Gershwin tunes.