(thanks, Night of the Trailers!)
Yikes. Depending on your tastes, Norman’s Panama’s 1966 Sex comedy Not With My Wife, You Don’t! is going to be a very funny film or one you can’t stand. That’s because this sort of humor is SO dated that some will consider the film extremely sexist to a fault (it is) while others who can slip into the mood of the era comfortably will find it a rollicking good time with a nice all-star cast, some lovely Technicolor photography and a fun Saul Bass title sequence that’s one of his quirkiest (see below).
Me, I kind of straddled the fence before falling into the latter yard. While it has its moments and yes, some wonderful shots of Air Force jets in action that make it a must see, the film hasn’t aged well at all as it flops and flails about in too many attempts to be a slapstick comedy while tossing around its questionable content with the hope it always lands on its feet…
(thanks Movie Titles!)
Amusingly enough, I only saw this film again after so many years because a friend I’d recommended The Graduate to hated it (and his wife even more so). They’d never seen it before and approached it more from a modern perspective as opposed to looking at it as a product of its time. When I was talking to them afterwards, I said “well, it’s a good thing I didn’t tell you to watch “Not With My Wife, You Don’t!”, not realizing TCM was going to be running it less than a week later. Of course, as soon as I found out it was playing, I rang them up and told them to sit down to watch it and get back to me. The ended up liking The Graduate a lot more because it’s a far better film.
Granted, this one does have a fine cast: Tony Curtis and George C. Scott play Air Force pilots who, during the Korean War fall head over heels for a nurse played by the lovely Virna Lisi, Carrol O’Connor plays a somewhat odd General and there’s even a Bob Hope cameo with him telling jokes on a USO tour stop. The film has the snappiness and tone of one of the Hope and Bing Crosby Road movies, but thanks to that, it also feels dated and much of the humor way too forced. Everyone is mugging for the camera, there’s a wild bar fight and in general, all here hit their marks and get it done. On the other hand, if you take the plot apart, it’s very weird stuff indeed. The characters don’t seem to age much despite 14 plus years passing, Lisi’s nurse is in love with both men and there’s a great deal of wishy-washing about her whims while the guys try to one-up each other to get her in each others’ arms.
I suppose this was a hit back in 1966, but for me it’s a film where production values outstrip all else. As noted above, the Air Force jet sequences (done with actual planes and with the cooperation of the military) look amazing and there are some chuckles to be had provided you set your brain to lightly stunned. On the other hand, women in the film are all treated as sex objects to the point that the scenes leading up to the bar fight get you shots of butts and legs and one stupefying scene where the camera pans up two ladies to reveal one “normal” looking plain Jane homebody next to a stunning blonde that leads to the usual pesky dialog about who gets whom. Yikes.
Then again, this is supposed to be one of those many “lightweight” adult comedies that filled theaters during this period, so I know it’s not the worst one made. This flick at least shows you it cost a pretty penny to make and got some decently amusing performances from its cast. But don’t be surprised if you’re not in need of a shower when all is said and done. Or a better and more interesting sex comedy. Your parents might like this one however, and I won’t argue with their tastes in films at all…