The ingredients are all there for the perfect romantic comedy -- the incomparable Cary Grant who starred so delightfully opposite Rosalind Russell in "His Girl Friday", Grace Kelly in "To Catch a Thief" and Audrey Hepburn in "Charade", the exquisite Ingrid Bergman who partnered Bogart in "Casablanca" and Grant himself in "Notorious", the master Stanley Donen who made "Funny Face" and "Charade" (again both with Audrey Hepburn), "Singing In The Rain", "The Pajama Game" and later, "Blame It On Rio", a sophisticated and witty script by Norman Krasna, a backdrop of 1950s London, elegant settings and beautiful Christian Dior gowns -- what more could one want?
And yet... for me, it just doesn't come off. I, who loves a romantic comedy, found myself alternately frustrated, angry and bored by a film that simply didn't hit any of the targets at which it so obviously aimed (except for the gowns, perhaps). Other reviewers talk of the chemistry between Grant and Bergman, yet I saw nothing but a contrived attempt to suggest a spark that was totally lacking throughout. I assume we are meant to believe they fall for each other from the moment he first walks through her door, yet I was taken by surprise when they start addressing each other with endearments in those split-screen telephone conversation moments that had been so successful in "Pillow Talk" and would later be such a high point of "When Harry Met Sally". So many sparkling lines are ruined by an almost complete lack of comic timing, even Grant, though much better than the others, falling far short of his usual ability to make the most of a clever script and enhance it with witty ad libs. Cecil Parker and Phyllis Calvert, stalwarts of the British stage and screen, seem completely out of their depth in this droll comedy as the supporting cast playing Bergman's sister and brother-in-law. And when believability was almost achieved after Grant's secret is betrayed and Bergman is at last able to demonstrate her dramatic talent in the cat-and-mouse game she plays with him at the dance and especially after, the sudden limp resolution falls totally flat and I was left feeling I had wasted an hour and a half of my time which could have been so much better spent enjoying once again any of the great films I have referred to above.
It's obvious that others will disagree with me when I suggest that, apart from Cary Grant, for whom this script could have been a perfect vehicle, the film is sadly mis-cast. If the idea was to highlight the sophistication of the plot and the clever script by playing it straight, it failed for me: I kept wondering how Doris Day or Audrey Hepburn, or even the great Marilyn Monroe, who had starred opposite Grant in "Monkey Business" and would next year make "Some Like It Hot", and whose acting talents were much underestimated, would have made so much more of the opportunities presented by this film.
I suppose I should be glad to have seen it at last, not sure how I'm missed it all these years -- but I'm sorry, I shall not be watching it again.