Filmsite Movie Review
Unfaithfully Yours (1948)
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Unfaithfully Yours (1948) is a wonderfully stylish and witty fantasy-screwball comedy, with a non-linear story line, from director-producer-writer Preston Sturges - it was the last of his Hollywood films.

The black comedy was unsuccessful at the time of its release, possibly due to the scandalous circumstances surrounding the suicide of star Rex Harrison's lover - troubled actress Carole Landis, when he refused to get a divorce and marry her.

The funny comedy was remade in 1984, also unsuccessfully, with Dudley Moore in the lead role.

The Story

The splendid, fine farce is the tale of British, middle-aged symphony orchestra conductor Sir Alfred de Carter (Rex Harrison) who suspects his lovely younger wife Daphne (Linda Darnell) of infidelity. During a visit to England, his brother-in-law August Henshler (Rudy Vallee), due to a misunderstanding, had hired private investigator Detective Sweeney (Edgar Kennedy) to follow Sir Alfred's wife around in his absence.

After reading the report upon his return, the jealous and self-assured Sir Alfred suspects that Daphne is having an affair with his own young private secretary, Anthony Windborn (Kurt Kreuger). Then, while leading his orchestra in three different pieces, Sir Alfred elaborately daydreams three very different versions or scenarios of how he will solve the problem of his wife's alleged infidelity - each one accompanied by a classical music piece that matches the mood.

  • during the conducting of Rossini's overture to the opera Semiramide, Sir Alfred imagines himself, in a complex and ingenious revenge fantasy, murdering femme fatale Daphne by razor-slashing and plotting to frame and convict Windborn for the crime
  • while performing the second number, Richard Wagner's reconciliation theme from Tannhauser, Sir Alfred fantasizes about nobly accepting the alleged infidelity by writing Daphne a large check, forgiving the young couple, and allowing his wife to run off with her young lover
  • and while conducting the third piece in the finale, Tchaikovsky's tone poem Francesca da Rimini overture, he sees himself challenging Daphne and Tony to a fatal game of Russian roulette

While the plans work perfectly in his mind, he stumbles and bumbles his way through the preparations in real life to murder Daphne (the first scenario) with a complicated recording device. At last, realizing how deliriously silly and irrational he has been, he cheerfully embraces and kisses his loving wife, who has never been unfaithful, and is unaware of his plotting.

[Note: She reluctantly reveals that her sister Barbara Henshler (Barbara Lawrence) is suspected of having an affair with Tony.]

Sir Alfred tells Daphne as he hugs her:

A thousand poets dreamed a thousand years. Then you were born, my love.