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   ONCE MORE, WITH FEELING! (1960) 

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CAST
Yul Brynner
Kay Kendall
Geoffrey Toone
Maxwell Shaw
Mervyn Johns
Martin Benson
Harry Lockart
Gregory Ratoff
Shirley Anne Field

DIRECTED BY
Stanley Donen

PURCHASE


About Brynner




Time: 92 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Genre: Comedy/Romance


SYNOPSIS: The latest dalliance of the talented, but egocentric conducter Victor Fabian drives his wife Dolly away for good and his career into the toilet since she was the one who placated and charmed his sponsors. To regain his position in London, he and his agent pull out every trick in the book to soothe her anger and convince her to return for the sake of his career and their future happiness.

BOTTOM LINE: Though more than a bit contrived, I can't understand why this film isn't more well-known and popular. I guess because Brynner's career hasn't really held the public's attention like some of his other classic Hollywood contemporaries. Which is a real shame because he's a brilliant actor and in this case, quite an adept comedian. He plays a raging egomaniac that you can't help but love but should really hate. And you would, if Brynner wasn't so charming and convincing. His character is a self-centered louse, but he's always true to himself and the world as he sees it, which clearly revolves around him. His light touch keeps you on his side despite the trouble he brings to his poor wife at every turn. Kay Kendall has the thankless task of playing his exasperrated wife who's tired of cleaning up his messes, but is ultimately unable to resist his charm. She more than holds her own in every scene with Brynner, giving their coupling great energy and sex appeal. They make you believe they can't live without each other despite all the bickering.

When they're onscreen together, the film is fun, sexy and spirited. Unfortunately, the plot has them apart too much, which drags the energy down. It's also more than a bit contrived. They have to actually get married so Dolly can get divored and re-marry a more normal and caring man, who's not such a royal pain in the ass. Even though she and Victor were together for 8 years, they never got around to having a wedding and it wouldn't do for Dolly's fiancé or the symphony board of directors to find out that they were merely living in sin, so to speak. She agrees to actually marry Victor and then move in with him to play the doting wife to get his career back on track. Once this is accomplished, she'll get her freedom from his overbearing personality once and for all. Of course, he wins her heart back in the end, but the road to their final reunion is quite hilariously bumpy. I guess their unwedded bliss would have still been a big deal in the 60s, but it's tough to swallow in this day and age. The situation does provide quite a few of the film's cleverest and funniest situations, so it's best to just go along for the ride.


"Just my luck. My wedding night and who shows up? My wife's fiance."

Kay Kendall is a delight in this film and I'm sure she would have been a huge star, but unfortunately she died before the film's release – right as her career was taking off. Not many actresses could have pulled this role off with the grace, class and silliness required and it's worth watching this movie just to see her. Brynner is also quite good and clearly having a lot of fun. This role is sort of a comic take on his part as the King of Siam, though a bit more overtly sexual. Though the look and feel is a bit stagey, I have to give the art director and set designer kudos for their design of the Fabian's mansion. Every wall and table is covered with some picture or object in Brynner's likeness. They must have created hundreds of different statues and paintings and their efforts only add to the fun of this character's overblown ego. While not the most original romantic comedy, there's enough talent, charm and wit in this piece to make it worth watching.



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