How to Murder Your Wife (1965)
Director: Richard Quine
Starring: Jack Lemmon, Virna Lisi, Claire Trevor, Eddie Mayehoff & Terry-Thomas
Released by: Olive Films
Reviewed by Mike Kenny
From the director of Sex and the Single Girl, How to Murder Your Wife stars Jack Lemmon (The Apartment) as wealthy cartoonist Stanley Ford, living the luxurious single life in Manhattan. After a drunken proposal takes place at a friend’s bachelor party, Stanley seeks an immediate divorce. Unfortunately, the new, strictly Italian speaking Mrs. Ford (Virna Lisi, The Secret of Santana Vittoria) will have none of it, taking over Stanley‘s life in the process. Frustrated and longing for his freedom, Stanley expresses his internal thoughts through his comic character who devises the perfect murder. Terry-Thomas (The Abominable Dr. Phibes), Eddie Mayehoff (Artists and Models) and Claire Trevor (Key Largo) co-star.
Scripted by George Axelrod (Breakfast at Tiffany’s), How to Murder Your Wife takes a man’s seemingly perfect existence and creates his worst nightmare after an excessive evening of drunken dabbling. Living in a gorgeous Manhattan townhouse adorned with Margaret Keane paintings, Stanley Ford (Lemmon) earns his riches penning the successful Bash Brannigancomic strip. Pampered by his loyal butler Charles Firbank (Thomas), Stanley takes great pleasure in his bachelor lifestyle with no intentions of settling down. While, attending a fellow bachelor party, Stanley, noticeably intoxicated, is overwhelmed by the sight of an Italian bikini-clad beauty emerging from a cake. Before long, Stanley awakes to learn that not only is he married to the bombshell but, she doesn’t speak a lick of English! Seeking help from his lawyer Harold Lampson (Mayehoff) to no avail and the new Mrs. Ford vehemently against divorce, Stanley finds himself in the biggest pickle of his lifetime. Desperate to return to his playboy existence, Stanley begins plotting ways to murder his wife through the help of his popular comic strip.
As its content would surely suggest a darker comedic tone, How to Murder Your Wife is played surprisingly broad with Lemmon’s likable personality allowing the viewer to playfully bask in the otherwise morbid plot. Defining beauty, Virna Lisi sizzles as Stanley’s Italian wife who although, not able to speak his language immediately, demonstrates a genuine affection for her American mate. As the marriage lengthens, Stanley’s world is turned hilariously upside down as he gains weight from his wife’s delicious, albeit fattening, home cooking and expelled from his all-male health club after Mrs. Ford’s abrupt appearance. In addition, Terry-Thomas serving as Stanley’s butler with a bitter distaste for his new bride is one of the film’s shining lights, weaving memorable comedic relief. While, Stanley uses Bash Brannigan to hatch a plan to pull off the perfect murder, Mrs. Ford takes notice of the not so subtle sketches. Heartbroken, Stanley’s wife disappears leading authorities to believe he committed actual homicide. Occasionally humorous with an overtly hokey courtroom sequence where Stanley defends himself to a jury of “lenient” married men, How to Murder Your Wife is a comical depiction of the arresting burden men feel towards marriage and the limits one soul will take to salvage his carefree lifestyle. Earning Jack Lemmon a Golden Laurel for his performance, How to Murder Your Wife is hardly a sidesplitting affair but, does make for lighthearted entertainment at the expense of marriage turmoil.
Olive Films presents How to Murder Your Wife with a 1080p transfer, sporting a 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Bursting with vibrant color and accurately relayed skin tones, How to Murder Your Wifeastounds with its clear picture, free of aging artifacts, and remarkable detail. Equipped with a DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono mix, How to Murder Your Wife compliments its splendid transfer with a mix of audible dialogue levels leaving little to no room for disappointment. Finally, an original Theatrical Trailer (3:55) serves as the disc’s only special feature.
Mildly amusing with appreciable onscreen chemistry between Lemmon and Lisi, How to Murder Your Wife won’t slay its audiences to extreme measures but, injects enough charm worthy of seeking out. Olive Films presents the Richard Quine comedy with a pristine transfer and satisfactory sound mix that should easily please viewers. Also including its original trailer, How to Murder Your Wife may be far from a comedic cornerstone but, still makes for decent entertainment.
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