During a high profile Mafia testimony case in California's Riverside County, a hired killer checks-in a hotel room near the courthouse while his next door depressed neighbor wants to commit suicide due to marital problems.
Dino, the charming and lecherous Las Vegas singer, stops for gas on his way to Hollywood in Climax, Nevada. The oily gas station attendant is Barney Millsap, a would-be lyricist who writes pop songs with Orville Spooner, the local piano teacher. By disabling Dino's car, Barney contrives a scheme to have Dino sing one of their songs on an upcoming TV special. To entertain Dino, Barney contacts the village tart, Polly, employing her to pretend to be Orville's wife, Zelda, for a night. She doesn't like Dino, but does love being Orville's surrogate wife. Dino goes to a bar, where he meets the real Zelda, and they spend the night together while Polly spends it with Orville. Written by
Some people still consider this movie a flop. Having just re-watched this movie for the first time in years, I can't see why. Perhaps Walston is a bit weak in a leading role (Sellers would have been fantastic), but the script is first rate, both funny and touching.
Dean Martin and Kim Novak are seriously under-rated actors in my opinion; here Dean sends himself up as 'Dino' and is not afraid to play himself as un-likable. Novak is, as always, wonderful. Sadly Kim never seems to get the appreciation she deserves, her performances in such movies as 'Vertigo' and 'Bell, Book & Candle' are never less than first class. While the lesser-known Felicia Farr comes across very well (she was also the wife of Wilder's frequent star, Jack Lemmon, I wonder how this film would have worked with Lemmon in the Walston role?)
This is a gem of a movie and one of Wilder's best.
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