Today ilovedinomartin takes you to the self-tagged blog, "Bobby Rivers TV," where Mr. Rivers a "Former VH1 VJ and celebrity talk show host. A native Los Angeleno, I had great teachers and family support. I am a veteran network TV host (VH1, Food Network), entertainment reporter and film reviewer (USA Network, ABC News/LifetimeTV, CNN, Premiere Radio) and TV commercial spokesman (Showtime, Starz)" holds forth.
Rivers post, "Loving Kim Novak," begins with Kim's starrin' role in Hitchcock's classic "Vertigo," and then wanders into a bit of Dino-territory speakin' of Miss Marilyn Monroe and our most beloved Dino in the never finished "Something's Gotta Give," and then moves on to Miss Novak starrin' with our great great man in the epic sex comedy, "Kiss Me Stupid."
Bobby shares a lovin' pose of our Dino and Miss Marilyn from the ill-fated flick and what was to be the poster for advertizin' it. Likes just seein' this powerfully provocative poster with extremely evocative poses of our Dino, Miss Marilyn, and Miss Cyd with the tag "sexsational" is well worth the price of admission.
From there Mr. Rivers goes into a very scribed and highly supportive review of KMS sayin' a number of great thin's 'bout our great man. We tagged this Dino-gram with Bobby' highest of high Dino-praise...."
Dean Martin, as himself, spoofs his own Rat Pack hipster image -- and he's a hoot." His other tellin' Dino-remark chocked full of Dino-knowin' is "Swinger Dino has finished a sold-out engagement. Now he wants a few drinks and some horizontal recreation."
ilovedinomartin shouts out our appreciato to Mr. Bobby Rivers for accentin' our King of Cool in such cool ways and encouragin' others to checks out one of our Dino's most underated performances in "Kiss Me Stupid." To checks this out in it it's original format, simply clicks on the tag of this here Dino-report. Dino-psyched, DMP
Dean Martin was following Cary Grant in the perplexed husband role.
After Monroe's untimely death, the project was repackaged, recast and retitled. It became the Doris Day and James Garner hit, Move Over, Darling. Monroe's death also changed Billy Wilder's plans. He was writing a new comedy with her in mind for the female lead. The comedy was Kiss Me, Stupid. Kim Novak took on the role, opposite Dean Martin. It wasn't one of Wilder's critical hits but I feel it rates a look. Kim Novak gave the warmest, most surprising and funniest performance of her screen career in Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid. She played Polly the Pistol, the Nevada cocktail waitress and occasional hooker who longs for the life of an average housewife. I didn't see this movie until the 1980s when I rented it on VHS. I could not believe I was watching the same actress from Vertigo. She was so ditzy, so different, so endearing. Her look and her sound were new. You should make this a half of a double feature one weekend and watch it right after Vertigo.
I was a Catholic youngster in L.A. when this movie was in production, when it was released and when Catholics were forbidden to see it. Seriously. Peter Sellers was playing the hyper and suspicious piano teacher husband, Orville, who's half of a struggling songwriting team in Nevada. He had a mild heart attack and had to withdraw from the project. He was replaced by Ray Walston, seen in Wilder's The Apartment. Dean Martin, as himself, spoofs his own Rat Pack hipster image -- and he's a hoot. Kiss Me, Stupid also lampoons Kubrick's Lolita. We see a sign for a town called "Climax" and there's a phallic-shaped cactus plant in a front yard.
Swinger Dino has finished a sold-out engagement. Now he wants a few drinks and some horizontal recreation.
But he's stuck in a non-swinger town. The teacher/songwriter's loving wife is a huge Dino fan. Her Dino crush makes her husband jealous.
Orville''s songwriting partner, Barney, hatches a scheme. If they can get hipster Dino to hear one of their songs -- and if he likes and records it -- they'll be made. If they can coax Orville's wife to leave for the night, they can get Polly the Pistol to pretend she's Orville's wife. Then they can invite Dino over for dinner, play him their music -- and let him play with "Mrs. Spooner." Polly goes along with Barney's plan because she's tight on cash and could use the extra money.
Dino comes over, Polly pretends to be Mrs. Orville Spooner and Dino tries to get his hands on her when Orville isn't looking.
Like in Vertigo, there's a duality to Kim Novak's character in Kiss Me, Stupid and a marriage is involved. And sex. While Polly plays her part, she discovers something. She really likes having a wedding ring on her finger.
She likes doing those ordinary domestic things, like making dinner for her husband and holding his hand. There's broad burlesque humor in this sex satire and that's mostly what critics, at the time, didn't like. Who really hated it? The Catholic Church. I remember my parents talking about this. A Catholic newspaper called The Tidings had movie listings with ratings for Catholic moviegoers.
Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid was rated "Condemned" by the Catholic Legion of Decency. Catholic moviegoers were told that they would be committing a major sin if they went to see it. I kid you not. Catholics were essentially told that if they saw this sexy comedy and, afterwards, died of a sudden heart attack before confessing to a priest that they'd seen Kiss Me, Stupid, their souls would go directly below. You could be in Eternal Damnation sitting on a hot bench right next to high-ranking Nazi officers simply because you saw Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid.
All the suggestiveness and the risqué sight gags seem tame today in comparison to what we've heard on a typical episode of Two and a Half Men, the prime time CBS sitcom that's been on for over 10 years. I think that Vatican veto on Wilder's movie came because Kiss Me, Stupid has a happy ending. No one got hurt. Fantasies came true. Love prevailed. If Polly the Pistol had been killed by a drunk driver as drove back to work at the cocktail lounge, the church would've been satisfied. The "woman of loose morals" would've been punished. But that didn't happen. She was treated with humanity. She was treated sweetly. That's the way she treated Orville.
Is Kiss Me, Stupid in a class with Wilder's The Apartment, Some Like It Hot or the first Hollywood film he directed, The Major and the Minor starring Ginger Rogers? No. But it's not totally bad. I've seen worse. One example is Need For Speed, a movie I paid to see this year so I could review it on TV. I'd rather keep a dental appointment during a New York City snowstorm than sit through that clunker again. I believe that the Catholic Legion of Decency action plus the critics' displeasure kept folks from seeing Kim Novak stretch herself as an actress and show a talent for screwball comedy that was never tapped during her Columbia Pictures time in the 1950s. Never before was she as outgoing, kooky and lovable in a role as she was for Wilder. Novak created a nice character. Polly the Pistol may not be the brightest bulb in the lamp, but she is honest. And kind. There's a radiance about Polly when she's wearing a simple dress and acting like a housewife in the kitchen. And, I'll admit it, my heart is touched watching Polly when Orville sits at the piano, plays and sings the tender Gershwin tune, "All The Livelong Day." Novak and Walston play that scene beautifully. Polly loved her temporary time as a housewife.
When I've heard people criticize Kiss Me, Stupid in conversation, I've never truly felt that they were speaking from an honest place. I always had the feeling they were repeating reviews they'd read by noted critics and wanted to come off as urbane instead of forming their own opinions and independent observations.
I saw actor Laurence Fishburne in a special TCM conversation with film critic Elvis Mitchell. Fishburne praised Dean Martin's performance in Kiss Me, Stupid. How refreshing it was finally to hear another viewpoint about something relative to that Wilder comedy. He spoke from an honest place. Given that Kiss Me, Stupid was a scandalous comedy for its time, I'm surprised it hasn't been remade. Maybe it's just as well is hasn't been redone. A Kiss Me, Stupid remake would probably cast Vince Vaughn in the Dean Martin role. Vince Vaughn as Vince Vaughn from Swingers. Heaven only knows how today's Hollywood would re-imagine the Ray Walston and Kim Novak characters.
I'll stick with the original, imperfect as it is. Give Billy Wilder's Kiss Me, Stupid a look -- after you see Kim in Hitchcock's Vertigo.