Dean Martin Double Feature – DVD Review

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Who Was That Lady?
George Sidney

Tony Curtis….David Wilson
Dean Martin….Michael Haney
Janet Leigh….Ann Wilson
James Whitmore….Harry Powell
Larry Storch….Orenov
Simon Oakland….Belka

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents Who Was That Lady? Screenplay by Norman Krasna. Running time: 114 minutes. Unrated. Theatrical release April 15, 1960. DVD released Dec. 12, 2006.

How to Save a Marriage (And Ruin Your Life)
Fielder Cook

Dean Martin….David Sloane
Stella Stevens….Carol Corman
Eli Wallach….Harry Hunter
Anne Jackson….Muriel Laszlo
Betty Field….Thelma

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment presents How to Save a Marriage (And Ruin Your Life) Screenplay by Nate Monaster and Stanley Shapiro. Running time: 102 minutes. Unrated. Theatrical release Jan. 17, 1968. DVD released Dec. 12, 2006.

The Movies:

Dean Martin is the patron saint of swagger. He exudes such an authoritative cool that you think he knows everything. In both of these films, Dean plays the worst best friend you’ll ever have. It’s not that he’s evil. But he’s got so much smooth charm and confidence that his pals think he’s got the world figured out so they accept his advice. And it all goes bad.

Who Was That Lady? opens with David Wilson (Curtis) working in the chemistry lab at Columbia University. He ends up sucking face with an eager foreign exchange student. This would normally be a good thing for an academic in the swinging sixties. But his wife (Leigh) walks in on the fun and wants to walk out on their marriage. David turns to Mike Haney (Martin), his best friend, to get him out of this jam. Mike writes mystery TV shows for CBS. David wants Mike to create an excuse that will get him back in his wife’s arms and away from divorce court. The alibi devised is that David has been secretly working for the FBI and the foreign exchange student was an enemy agent. He was only tongue wrestling for the sake of American security! In order to sell the lie, Mike has a TV prop guy forge an FBI ID for his buddy. This however comes back to bite them on the ass as the real FBI gets involved in this domestic faux spy case.

The film plays out as if Billy Wilder made North By Northwest as a buddy comedy. Dean and Curtis have a great give and go as the friends. The end scene is brilliantly over the top as the two believe they’ve been captured by foreign spies and trapped inside a submarine. Plus Dean gets to sing the title song as he works his magic with the Coogle sisters during one of their “undercover” operations. And if you need more star power, the duo find themselves targeted by real foreign spies including Larry Storch and Simon Oakwood (best known for being Kolchak’s boss on Night Stalker).

How to Save a Marriage (And Ruin Your Life) has Eli Wallach beg his pal (Martin) to find out if his mistress (Jackson) is being faithful. Dean seduces the mistress to show Wallach that it’s not smart to leave his wife for her. Unfortunately the woman (Stevens) in Dean’s bed is not the mistress. But Wallach trusts his friend’s information and cuts off the relationship with his real mistress. Dean shacks up with Stevens. He enjoys keeping a mistress without having to go home to a wife. Of course the happiness can’t go on forever especially when Dean’s misunderstanding gets exposed. The highlight of the film is a proposed mistress strike in Manhattan.

The film does address the crisis of being a mistress in the big city. There is no job security in being a kept woman. However the movie was an anachronism when it was released. How can you make a sex comedy at the end of the ’60s that has no nudity? It was too clean for the times. But now that our sex comedies are fully clothed, this movie doesn’t stick out as square.

Both of these films are the kind of romantic comedy that could easily be butchered by Jay Roach with Ben Stiller, Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson taking the leads. These are two films that don’t get much airplay on today’s cable TV because who needs vintage light weight romantic comedies when they can beat us to death with Must Love Dogs? This is a shame since both are perfect lazy Sunday afternoon viewing. Both films remind us that while Dean Martin might be the coolest drinking buddy in the world, do not take his advice when it comes to your wife and mistress.

The DVD:

The Video:
Who Was That Lady? is black and white with a 1.85:1 anamorphic picture. How to Save a Marriage is color with a 2.35:1 anamorphic picture. Both transfers look crisp.

The Audio:
Both have English mono tracks with English subtitles.

Special Features:

The DVD Lounge’s Ratings for Dean Martin Double Feature
(OUT OF 10)