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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Dean Martin Double Feature (Who Was That Lady?/How to Save a Marriage (And Ruin Your Life))

Dean Martin Double Feature:  Who Was That Lady?/How To Save A Marriage (And Ruin Your Life) (Sony)


Picture: B-     Sound: C+     Extras: C-     Film: C+



Sony has once again delved into the Columbia pictures catalog and come up with two decent films from the studios past, this time from the solo star period of Dean Martin.  The two comedies show how Martin survived his split with Jerry Lewis and how well he fared after leaving Paramount and going over to then-smaller Columbia.  In both, he tries to fix other couples’ relationships, only to cause more harm than good.


Who Was That Lady? (1959) offers Martin as a good friend of an assistant chemistry professor (Tony Curtis) caught kissing another woman at work by his wife (then real-life wife Janet Leigh at the time she was doing Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho) and is ready to leave him.  Mike (Martin) concocts a plan to convince Ann (Leigh) that David (Curtis) is really working for the FBI and the kiss was undercover.  When the real FBI gets involved (including James Whitmore as a good guy agent) and a couple of East Bloc spies (amusing turns by Simon Oakland and Larry Storch that could have been expanded and made more interesting) cause all to go out of control.  Another gag is that Mike has friends at CBS-TV, where they get some of the props to play FBI.  With a strange ending that is stranger thanks to 9/11 and Director George Sidney’s lite touch, the film is worth a look if not a spectacular comedy.


How To Save A Marriage (And Ruin Your Life) (1967) is a tad better as David Sloane (Martin) becomes interested in a department store worker (Stella Stevens) to the extent that he intervenes in the marriage of a friend thinking the worker is a mistress via lies from a higher-up (Alan Oppenheimer) who is harassing her.  He spends the film dealing with her, when he is parking up the wrong tree.  It won’t be long before he gets more involved with her than the situation, but despite the formula and predictability, is a pleasant piece thanks to capable Director Fiedler Cook and a supporting cast that includes Eli Wallach, Anne Jackson, Jack Albertson and Betty Field.


The anamorphically enhanced 1.85 X 1 image on Lady and 2.35 X 1 real anamorphic Panavision image on Save are from new digital High Definition transfers, though the films are a bit different.  Lady is a nicely shot black and white film with cinematographer Harry Stadling, who had been shooting monochrome stocks since the silent era.  He had also lensed several such Hitchcock films at the time, but this was made late in his career where he also became known as a master of color with Auntie Mame, Gypsy, My Fair Lady, Funny Girl, Hello, Dolly, On A Clear Day You Can See Forever and The Owl & The Pussycat.  Note that those last few films are early Barbra Streisand hits.  Save was also shot by a cinematographer at the end of a long career, Lee Garmes, who also worked with Hitchcock, in color (Gone With The Wind) and black and white Film Noirs and classics like the original Howard Hawks Scarface in 1932.  This film was in PathéColor (which Columbia was using at the time all over the place) and is very color consistent throughout.  This would sadly be his last feature film.


These films have not looked this good in decades, while the Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono for both are as clean and clear as can be expected for optical mono theatrical releases form their time.  Besides Martin singing where applicable, André Previn provides the score for Lady, while Save sports a score by Michel Legrand, two composers known best for their romantic works though they have scored other genres of film.


Extras are just about nil, save a few previews for other Sony DVD releases.  Also, you have to restart the DVD all over to get to the second/other film since the menus oddly do not provide a transitional icon.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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