UNFAITHFULLY YOURS. Directed by Howard Zieff; written by Valerie Curtin, Barry Levinson and Robert Klane; produced by Marvin Worth and Joe Wizan for 20th Century Fox. Starring Dudley Moore and Nastassja Kinski. Rated PG.
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Too bad "musical comedy" has to mean lots of singing and dancing. Otherwise it would be a perfect description of Unfaithfully Yours.
How about "comedy with music" or "comedy about musicians?" By whatever name, it's a delight.
Claude (Moore) is a famous symphony conductor. He has recently married Daniella (Kinski), a beautiful young Italian actress. They are very much in love. But following the first of many misunderstandings, Claude comes to believe Daniella is having an affair—and with his protege Max (Armand Assante), no less. So he plans to do away with them both.
As far as plot goes, that's just about it. What makes Unfaithfully Yours so entertaining is the style (light, not melodramatic) and the performances, which are uniformly excellent.
The same basic story was made into a Preston Sturges movie in 1948 and the current version retains much of the exuberance and crazy humor of '30s and '40s comedies.
There are many hilarious conversations at cross purposes, where the audience is the only party fully in the know.
And the contrast between Claude's murderous plan and what really happens is incredibly funny. He imagines it first, going off without a hitch, so we can enjoy the outrageousness without really fearing that anyone will be hurt.
Moore gives his best performance in years in Unfaithfully Yours. His timing is infallible, his body english hysterical. Wrestling with uncooperative furniture and dueling violins with Max are just two of his many great scenes.
Kinski is perfect as Daniella. Exotic, enthusiastic and gorgeous, she is a sympathetic and delightful character. And she looks terrific in those rich clothes!
Down the line, the supporting cast is superb. Assante is quite attractive and convincing. Albert Brooks (one of the funniest people alive) is somewhat subdued here. But he's good as Claude's manager. And Richard Libertini, Claude's chaffeur, cook, etc., is crazily funny.
There is nothing weighty or significant about Unfaithfully Yours. But it is one of those few movies I can recommend without reservation. To music lovers, comedy lovers, movie lovers, everybody!
February 15, 1984