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The stars that this movie features promise and deliver. I have never seen a sweeter woman than Natalie Wood here. Tony Curtis is the tabloid bad guy first, who becomes the romantic fool later. Henry Fonda manufactures pantyhoses and is happily, and many times sadly married to Lauren Bacall, once his secretary. The plot is wonderfully built around the developing romance between Curtis and Wood and its intertwining with the tensions between Fonda and Bacall. Curtis develops a scheme to bring Wood to admit that she did or didn't (you know what), the results of which will be published in STOP!, the worst tabloid. After he falls in love with her everything changes, but the problem is that the scheme included Fonda, and this is further complicated by Bacall's temperament. The complication produces many comical situations you will enjoy.
I actually find this scatterbrained 1964 comedy a surprisingly amusing
screwball farce all these years later despite its titillating title. So
apparently does director Peyton Reed since he based most of his 2004
comic pastiche, "Down with Love", on the storyline of this movie and
less so on any of the Doris Day/Rock Hudson romps of the same era.
Regardless, they all have the same brew of conjugal misunderstandings,
mistaken identities and leering though never explicit sexuality because
those were the days when a woman's virtue would never be compromised
for anyone but the right man. Directed by the heavy-handed Richard
Quine ("Paris When It Sizzles") and written by Joseph Heller (later the
author of "Catch-22") and David R. Schwartz, this ridiculous comedy
benefits from a game cast headed by Tony Curtis still riding high from
"Some Like It Hot" (which is referred to for easy laughs in the story)
and Natalie Wood who shows her comedy chops with dexterity here.
Curtis plays Bob Weston, a sleazy magazine writer for a men's magazine whose editors are intent on exposing Dr. Helen Gurley Brown as a fraud as a sex expert. Author of the best-selling "Sex and the Single Girl", Brown is not at all the clench-jawed celebrity author who wrote the real book and appeared on "The Tonight Show" constantly. Instead, she is a gorgeous, intellectually prodigious 23-year-old who extols female empowerment in the bedroom. Showing off his moral depravity, Weston steals the marital woes of her next-door neighbors, pantyhose magnate Frank Broderick and his acerbic wife Sylvia, and comes to see Dr. Brown as a patient. The rest is predictable but still a good amount of fun. Curtis was still at the top of his game here showing how he can easily elicit laughs from such a vile manipulator, but it's Wood who surprises as Brown. Displaying a nervous but infectious energy that feeds nicely into the two sides of the doctor, she is funny and sexy in a way that she could never quite balance as well again in her career. Witness the hilariously conflicted drunken scene in her apartment for evidence of her talent.
Quine was smart to cast three sharp stars in the key supporting roles - Henry Fonda as the put-upon Frank browbeaten into a sad man by Lauren Bacall pulling all the stops as the shrewish basket case Sylvia is, and Mel Ferrer as Brown's somewhat ambiguous colleague. Add a sultry Fran Jeffries who performs two numbers (including the title tune) for no apparent reason except to sell records, an even sexier Leslie Parrish ("The Manchurian Candidate") as Weston's secretary, and a genuinely funny extended car chase scene, and you have the makings of an under-appreciated sex comedy. The 2009 DVD, part of the six-disc "The Natalie Wood Collection", includes a Warner Brothers cartoon ("Nelly's Folly") and the original theatrical trailer.
I've seen this one a few times over the years and wish it would come
out in DVD. Natalie Wood was never more beautiful, and the battle of
the sexes was never more fun. It's great to see a love story that
doesn't resort to foul language or adult humor, but simply witty dialog
and the vagaries of human nature.
Tony Curtis plays a tabloid reporter trying to get the goods on Helen Gurley Brown (played by Natalie Wood) and her personal life to find out if she actually knows anything about sex and relationships. To this end, he impersonates an acquaintance (played by Henry Fonda) whose having problems with his jealous wife (played by Lauren Bacall) so that he can pose as a patient and seek her advice.
The confusion caused by this impersonation just leads to more problems. However, this is just a sideshow to the reporter's seduction of Dr. Brown and the glorious mayhem that ensues.
Her constant comparisons of Tony Curtis to Jack Lemmon (Curtis' co-star in Some Like It Hot) will appeal anyone who's seen that classic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I had not been a big fan of Natalie Wood but have become interested in
her since meeting young Natalie who reminds me very much of the
actress. So I have been seeing some of her old movies here and there.
This one has been released on DVD and it is a very nice one.
Tony Curtis stars as Bob Weston, the most sleazy writer for the magazine "STOP" that prides itself in sleazy reporting. He has done an article on 23-year-old single therapist, Natalie Wood as Helen Gurley Brown, who wrote the book "Sex and the Single Girl." The article went on to ridicule the young therapist by saying a young, single virgin could not be a very credible sex therapist. Quickly she found her appointments being canceled because of the article.
But Bob Weston has an even grander plan, he will romance the young doctor and get enough inside information to write an even harder-hitting expose'.
Bob's neighbor and friend is ladies hosiery manufacturer and sales manager Henry Fonda as Frank Broderick. Frank's wife is Lauren Bacall as Sylvia.
As soon as Bob realizes that Helen knows who he is and will not let him even in the same room, he hatches a plan, he will pretend to be his neighbor, Frank, and ask for help with relationship issues between himself and his wife. But Frank and Sylvia know nothing about this.
The interplay between Curtis and Wood is great, and many very funny situations result. When Helen eventually finds out what is really going on she decides to skip out to Fiji with an admiring co-worker, but Bob, Frank, and Sylvia all end up in a madcap chase scene on the Los Angeles freeway system, that also involves a cab driver, an ice cream vendor, and a motorcycle cop. It is madcap, and it is funny.
Nothing in the story is plausible but it doesn't have to be. It is just a funny story with funny characters. A classic from the 1960s.
Despite all his critics,"Sex and the Single Girl" is a delight,a pure entertainment film with a marvelous cast giving very good performances. This movie deserves to be released in DVD here Tony Curtis and Natalie Wood are better than in "The Great Race".Henry Fonda found in Lauren Bacall one partner in the same caliber of Bette Davis or Katharine Hepburn and the two made a terrific team.Mel Ferrer contributes with funny moments in a rare comedy performance.The screenplay are witty and gave to us highlights like Quine homage to Billy Wilder during a Tony Curtis/Natalie Wood seduction scene.Of, Course Mr. Wilder is a renowned director,Quine don't have the same status but in this movie and several in his filmography he shows a great talent special for comedy and develop a friendship with the late Jack Lemmon who once said Quine is one of most underrated directors in this business.Mr. Quine bought to us:"Bell,Book and Candle","Notorious Landlady","Strangers When We Met" and "How to Murder Your Wife" plus "Operation Mad Ball" the movie Wilder saw and invite Lemmon for the Classic "Some Like Hot". Mr. Jack Lemmon and "Some Like It hot" are often celebrated in "Sex and the Single Girl".For all this reasons watched It!
Here is a movie that could have been a 60s classic lampooning tabloid
journalism, skin-deep psychology, proto-feminism, marital problems,
hypocrisy, and sexual freedom. Instead, it is a cartoonish pastiche of
amateurish slapstick, poorly-time jokes, silly contrived situations,
and one of the most idiotic and long car chases in the history of
The idea of a sleazy editor doing a hatchet job on a 23-year-old virgin psychologist who has written a bestseller affirming the sexual lives of single women should certainly have hilarious possibilities - specially if he is a liar, she cannot handle her own feelings, and they are sexually attracted to each other. However, the script is ludicrous and inconsistent often degenerating into total silliness: at first, the story appears to take place in New York, then all the characters end up at the L.A. airport; a woman is singing with the Count Basie Orchestra and trying to land a recording contract, then she wants to fly away with any man anywhere; a man struggles with his business and marriage, then he just decides to fly away to Hawaii or Fiji.
The inept direction give us the sad spectacle of screen giants Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall doing the twist while the Count Basie Orchestra is performing a swing song! They try saying their idiotic lines with utter lack of conviction - probably this movie was an embarrassment to them. Natalie Wood and Tony Curtis also fail at being funny although that is the script's fault and not their own. In the long run, it is hard to watch so much stupidity and wasted talent on the screen. Avoid it at all costs.
It is the revolutionary decade of the 1960's, and you are a successful
career girl, a devoted young sex therapist (aka Helen Gurley Brown).
The intriguing conundrum being "Does she or doesn't she" You have been
ravaged by a salacious tabloid which thrives on malignancy!! It boils
down to a choice between a sleazy columnist concealing himself as a
married man, (Tony Curtis) or a confidant who is merely seeking a
stilted arrangement, (Mel Ferrar) Your clothes are from Bonwit Teller
which insinuates that you are masquerading a pretense of sophistication
and elusive composure!! Such a wardrobe suggests a disconcerting
demeanor about "Being Above Reproach" So!! as a result, sex with whom
you think is a married man, (Tony Curtis) is just not in your
cosmopolitan repertoire..but then again, he does that "Thing with the
Ear"...We are not talking about putting his mouth over it like a pet
terrier or a grandparent or something, we are talking about a
"penetrating slither"... Lauren Bacall and Henry Fonda's marital
problems are what instigate the plot in this movie!! Tony Curtis
pretends to be Frank Broderick,(Henry Fonda's character) with ulterior
motives to unearth a gossip ridden story about a prominent therapist's
(Natalie Wood) virginity status!! An oversexed male who delves into the
recreation of sexual depravity is callous in his rudimentary pursuit of
"basic needs". These urges are best paralleled with feeding time at the
zoo!! While you are at the zoo, you might want to check up on how this
evolutionary ladder thing is progressing!! Cleverly receiving an
invitation to her apartment, she (Natalie Wood) thinks this for
purposes of acting as a therapist and assuming a surrogate role,
anything to help, right? How foolish!! Tony Curtis winds up wearing an
upper middle class woman's bathrobe (fondly reminiscing about the days
of "Some like it Hot") and now!! it is time to get down to business!!
The bottom of the earlobe is everyone's nemesis, and not just a sexual
deviate's!! Heavy breathing on your ear, especially after a couple of
martinis, gives your professional resolve all the longevity of a
Popsicle on a hot July afternoon!! Your befuddled verbosity which
contains an onslaught of analytical euphemisms is a subterfuge for your
maverick curiosity, and that pejorative confusion inevitably translates
to your desire for "Sex"!! Everyone lights a cigarette while they have
another cigarette going already!! This precarious mannerism purports a
potpourri of falsehoods everybody seems comfortable with!! Lying about
things has now become second nature to people, as a matter of fact, it
is kind of fun!! This allegedly married man you are cavorting with has
a good head on his shoulders, but he is not thinking with his
head...What he is thinking with is not very swift at all!! BELIEVE ME!!
Such a lewd fiasco comprises the aggregate compendium of you as the
prototype for woman's liberation in the 1960's!! Finally, recrimination
has evoked a bittersweet awakening to you!! It is now become very
obvious to you that first hand consequences are dreadfully different
from that article you read in Reader's Digest" on "THE DON JUAN
COMPLEX" To top it all off, you fall in love!! Natalie Wood is
sensational in this role...Originally known as the adorable little girl
on "Miracle on 34th St" not much has changed since then!! She may still
believe in Santa Claus because he is the only man who keeps his
The movie "Sex and the Single Girl" has an amazing array of talent, Natalie Wood, Tony Curtis, Lauren Bacall, Henry Fonda, Mel Ferrar, and a whole list of others!! It depicts a scenario that the sexual revolution comes in blue and pink, and it is here to stay for good and keeps, it is just a matter of how effective and ubiquitous it will be on the various individuals involved!! Body parts like knees and ear lobes are vulnerabilities for the consummate carnal's double-entendre!! This film amusingly resonates itself to a common sixties style movie, and winds up having a matchmaker's version of a happy ending!! Most significantly, everybody has flippantly and metaphorically acknowledged that Eve ate the apple. the Greeks were indeed, perverted, and a person by the name of Sigmund Freud did actually exist!! Funny movie!!! Why? It is a comically realistic illustration of men's over active hormones that are incorporated into a screwball comedy!!...I liked this movie!!
Henry Fonda gave an interview with Canadian television channel TVO in
which he discussed the "compromises" an actor has to make in order to
keep his career alive, in his case, in order to be able to make quality
films such as Twelve Angry Men and The Oxbow Incident. Looking
chagrined, he revealed that Sex and the Single Girl was a movie he made
in order to have a box office success and keep his name in the Win
column of the studios. He said he was ashamed of Sex and the Single
Girl, calling it a box office success but "dreadful"--so ashamed that
he didn't like even mentioning its name. I'm not sure I'd go that far,
but this is certainly far from a good movie.
http://ww3.tvo.org/ video/182894/ henry-fonda-compromise-making-bad-movies
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Sex comedies from the sixties may seem a trifle dated now: it's a long
way since Rock Hudson and Doris Day made their way through the
seduction game. But what it loses in accuracy (if it was ever
accurate), it wins back in appealing, innocent charm. This one was made
in 1964, and follows the regular storyline: a guy who's strongly
described as a womanizer, decides to make love to an inexperienced
young woman, but she confuses him with someone else and the two fall in
love in the process. This time, the guy is a newspaper man, from a
tabloid (directed by Edward Everett Horton, who hasn't changed a bit
since Fred Astaire) and the girl, a psychiatrist loosely based on the
journalist Helen Gurley Brown- in fact that's her name, but the rest is
fiction. There's also a shade of The Moon Is Blue, with everyone
wondering if Helen is or not a virgin.
The film itself is not very long and you have sometimes the feeling it lasts forever- and sometimes you wish it could. In the pivotal part, Natalie Wood is plain exquisite. She seemed to have grown more and more beautiful with each film she made, and it's no exception. She also manages to be terribly funny, without turning ridiculous, childlike and touching yet never losing her sophisticated seduction. Wood was about 26 then and to me that makes the film work much better than the Day-Hudson comedies. Who could believe a thirty-ish, attractive woman with an interesting job and an independent mind wouldn't meet any man before Rock decides to come along? As for Tony Curtis, he's very fine as the seducer. He has the chance to play a few wacky comedy scenes as well, jumping in the river with Natalie in his arms, and dressing as a woman to get out of her building- a Some Like it Hot joke he even explains to the audience. There's no Tony Randall here but Henry Fonda is the best friend, a fussy, middle-aged, depressed lingerie manufacturer, who can't seem to make things right with his wife, blasé Lauren Bacall. The real magic of the film is anytime Wood and Curtis interact, flirt and seduce each other, but the two older stars make for a very enjoyable counterpart. Fonda, claiming he will "never laugh again" then giggling over a racy tabloid is priceless. So is Bacall, opening her door to Natalie an early morning, with her legend husky voice. We've also got Mel Ferrer in a highly unexpected turn, as the light-hearted and pro-dancer psychiatrist Rudy and Fran "Meglio Stasera" Jeffries has a small part as Tony's casual girlfriend -and of course getting to sing the title song.
Richard Quine gave a less dynamic direction than usual, but his emphasis on the easy life of the early 60's well-offs is still pretty funny to watch: the buildings, dresses, dances, dates come all from better days, probably idealized even then by the gentle eye of Cinemascope. The car chase near the end is uneven as well, with dragging bits against genuine laughter. Another pleasant point, still is the very breezy music written by Neal Hefti, the man responsible for The Odd Couple and Barefoot in the Park. A short piece devoted to accompany the two young leads 'romance, "The Game" is probably the sweetest Hefti ever get. Don't forget to check the in-jokes; Quine makes repeated allusions to one of his favorite actors, Jack Lemmon, who would a year after co-star with both Curtis and Wood in comedy masterpiece The Great Race. "When you smile like that, you do look a lot like Jack Lemmon", remarks a smitten Natalie through mid-film. He does not by the way, but who cares ? Lemmon's subtle yet persistent shadow on the film is another little thing that makes Sex and the Single Girl very lovable indeed.
In-name-only movie-version of Helen Gurley Brown's book, a glossy but fairly unamusing comedy which begins as a semi-sophisticated battle-of-the-sexes, eventually becoming a ditsy slapstick outing which treats its characters as overage juveniles. Gossip-magazine editor Tony Curtis lands on Natalie Wood's couch--but sex is the furthest thing from her mind, as she's playing a psychologist. Gurley Brown was probably red-faced at having her title (and name) utilized for nothing more than another '60s bedroom farce (one wherein the bedroom is kept strictly under wraps). Curtis and Wood look great in their prime, but their characters are all talk, little action. The funniest material is saved for alternate couple Henry Fonda and Lauren Bacall. *1/2 from ****
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