I Can’t Believe it’s on YouTube! “Kiss Me, Stupid”
Story: When a heartthrob singer is stranded in a dusty town, an aspiring songwriter/ jealous husband offers to host; first sending his wife out of the house for the night, and hiring a cocktail waitress to pose as his beloved.
Why you should watch it: Dean Martin parodies himself as singer “Dino” – a guy who’s just gotta get laid or he’ll wake up with a splitting headache. This is exactly NOT the guest one Orville J. Spooner cares to have near his beautiful wife Zelda. Of course, as an aspiring songwriter, Orville realizes the opportunity. Hosting Dino can give his career a boost. This goal is in direct conflict with his jealous rage over any man who as much sneezes in his wife’s direction. The milkman, the dentist, even the scrawny piano student is a potential rake. But Dino? That would send Orville reeling.
He provokes a fight with Zelda, she runs to her Mother’s house in tears. Orville hires the cocktail waitress, Kim Novak, to pose as his scantily-clad domestic goddess. Orville’s plan is he’ll sell a few songs to Dino, and Dino will take Orville’s “wife” to delay his headache.
Billy Wilder and I.A.L Diamond’s “Kiss me, Stupid” is a delightful social satire. Not everyone thought so. The New York Times’ 1964 film review said KMS is “pitifully unfunny,” and a “pungent exercise.” The film was not released under United Artists’ banner as planned, but under their subsidiary Lopert Pictures dedicated for imported films. Billy Wilder was befuddled by this condemnation, telling biographer Ed Sikov, “I don’t know why the film shocked people. It’s the most bourgeois film there is.” I’m in love with how this film negotiates the housewife/whore switch-er-ooo with such ease. Is this a husband’s worst nightmare? That it wouldn’t take much for Beaver’s Mom to turn into Polly the Pistol, and vice-versa?
Truly, “Kiss me, Stupid” is a surprisingly tender story weaved so expertly, that when Orville has a clear sale, his marital vows get the better of him. He throws Dino out of his house, insulted Dino made advances on his “wife.” It feels as though the adulterous affair that ensues absolutely MUST happen if Orville is to continue to be the good husband.
Fun fact: Ira Gershwin used his late brother’s unpublished songs, adding lyrics.
At a time when TV couples were still sleeping in separate beds, I can’t believe this film was made – and I Can’t Believe it’s on YouTube!
Written by: Mich Medvedoff