DENNIS SCHWARTZ 
IS THERE ANY GOOD 
IN SAYING 
EVERYTHING ABOUT A MOVIE?

 
THAT KIND OF WOMAN (director: Sidney Lumet; screenwriters: Walter Bernstein/based on the story "Layover in El Paso" by Robert Lowry; cinematographer: Boris Kaufman; editor: Howard Smith; music: Daniele Amfitheatrof; cast: Sophia Loren (Kay), Tab Hunter (Red), George Sanders (The Man, A. L.), Jack Warden (Sgt. Kelly), Barbara Nichols (Jane), Keenan Wynn (Harry Corwin), Raymond Bramley (The General), Bea Arthur (WAC), John Fiedler (Soldier on train), Henry Morgan (Cameo); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Carlo Ponti/Marcello Girosi; Paramount; 1959)

 
"I kid you not, the teen heartthrob Tab Hunter and Sophia Loren are lovers."

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz 

Sidney Lumet ("Night Falls on Manhattan"/"Just Tell Me What You Want"/"12 Angry Men") directs this awful soaper, that's poorly written by blacklisted writer Walter Bernstein. He adapted it from the award winning story "Layover in El Paso" by Robert Lowry. The romantic drama is a remake of Potter's above average World War I romancer The Shopworn Angel (1938), which was a remake of the 1929 film that starred Gary Cooper. The unconvincing cliched love story is a barrel of laughs, but for all the wrong reasons since it was intended as a serious drama. But I kid you not, the teen heartthrob Tab Hunter and Sophia Loren are lovers. Whoever is responsible for teaming them up (supposedly the suits at Paramount and without any serious objections from Lumet), should be figuratively shot by a firing squad or, at least, forced to watch this flick several times to witness what they created. A crestfallen Tab cracked me up when he tells Sophia: 'All I can give you is me!' Not even an accomplished actor like George Sanders would get away with such a weak line, so you can't blame a miscast Tab (as the homosexual actor didn't seem to be up to playing the love scenes with conviction) completely for this bomb.

In 1944, during wartime, former Naples hottie Kay (Sophia Loren), now an American citizen, takes a troop train from Miami to New York. Kay is the kept woman of the wealthy and suave munitions manufacturer A. L. (George Sanders). Accompanying Kay on the train is her sugardaddy's flunky, Harry Corwin (Keenan Wynn), who is her chaperone, and the bimbo soft-hearted other kept woman named Jane (Barbara Nichols). The girls are kept to attract The Man's clients.

The attractive girls get picked-up on the train despite the protests of their frustrated keeper Harry. During the train ride, the two 82nd Airborne soldier pals, the grisly vet Sgt. Kelly (Jack Warden) and the naive Vermont farm boy Red (Tab Hunter), fall for the girls. Red wants to marry Kay. But once in NY and back in her luxury townhouse and fast lifestyle, she dumps the kid. But the kid never gives up and with the urging of his wise guy pal tracks her down and gets her to leave her cushy but loveless life to meet his folks in Vermont, before he gets sent back to the front.

Besides the unconvincing romance and leaden acting and false ad campaign that it was a racy story, its other flaws are that it's dated, dull and ridiculous. The flat black-and-white film was a failed attempt by Sophia's hubby producer Carlo Ponti to turn her into a U.S. film star. That would come later. Lumet insists he shot an intimate pic, using the NYC locations for the lovers to carry on their affair (like Central Park and a coffee shop in Little Italy), but the suits at Paramount and Ponti (who had final cut) cut the film to shreds in the editing room to make it Sophia's pic.

REVIEWED ON 5/13/2011       GRADE: C-

Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"

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