Movie Mondays: Kiss Me Stupid 1964

Kiss Me Stupid was surprisingly well reviewed on Netflix, and even heralded as many reviewers’ favorite Dean Martin flick. Being a fan of the cheesy, Dino-always-gets-the-girls musical plots and 1960s style, I was intrigued and wondered why I had never seen this Billy Wilder movie form my favorite decade in film. I’ve always loved the beloved director’s off-beat comedic style of sardonic story-telling, and knowing the strength of the top billing actors, I was all set to enjoy this classic film. Though, honestly, I ended up walking away pretty disappointed.

The best part about the movie, in my opinion, is the unique angle where Dean Martin actually plays a version of himself- Dino- a famous nightclub singer and musical performer with an infamous reputation for the bottle and the babes. The story is set up by introducing us to small-town piano teacher, Orville, who writes fluffy love songs, dreaming of selling a hit song one day, and constantly worrying that his beautiful wife will realize what a flop he is and leave him for someone else.

Orville is beyond excited and hopeful with Dino actually stops into his town for a gasoline fill-up, and after having a friend tinker with Dino’s fuel line, the two concoct a plan t to host Dino at Orville’s house, and sell the famous singer on one of their songs while he’s stranded in their town. There’s just one problem- Orville’s beautiful wife, Zelda, admits to being head-over-heals for Dino, and Dino certainly doesn’t hide his curiosity about Zelda, using her curvaceous dress form as a hint of things to come. Orville has got to get his wife out of the house, and find a replacement for her, before Dino either sweeps his wife off her feet, or Dino leaves town and Orville’s chance of selling a hit song is gone forever.

The storyline is a great start for a fun film with plenty of situational irony, and with Billy Wilder at the helm, I didn’t think anything could go wrong. Especially not with the ever watchful eyes of a still-conservative 1960s movie studio, right? I suppose you could still say the story was expertly told with excellent acting and beautifully paced scenes. There was a little music, but I certainly wouldn’t call this a musical. All of the characters were likable and despicable in their own right. All of these are good things. I was just really disappointed by how so much of the humor revolved around marital jealousies and infidelities. The plot focused around how a scummy musical star’s visit to a small town sets everyone to spinning, and while the characters each grew in their own right, I just really hate the overall message that cheating is normal, and even funny. So there you have it. If you can personally get past that major aspect of the movie, I would say it’s a great piece of storytelling through film. But it just didn’t float my boat, and so I’ll count this one as a loss.

8 Responses

  1. Daphne says:

    WOW your blog is adorable!!!

  2. Kristian says:

    Sorry to hear it was a disappointment, but glad to know to skip it on my Netflix. I’m like you- a plot or hour that revolves around martial jealousies is just not my thing.

    Good review though.

  3. Courteney says:

    I know what you mean about story-lines that revolve around making infidelity funny. There are a few movies that have left me with the same sentiments. I do love Dean Martin though, so it’s too bad. :(

  4. Elizabeth says:

    This was a good review, because I know to skip it. I watched another old movie like that recently that left me feeling glum for the same reason, though I can’t remember the name.

  5. Suzy8track says:

    I’ve never seen this, but thanks for the tip, I’ll make sure I pass on this one!

  6. I was disappointed by this one too. I had seen clips of it on TCM for the longest time (I think it was the scene where Dean Martin sees the dress form) and got my hopes up, but it was just underwhelming. I wrote about it on my classic film blog years ago, and mentioned that I wasn’t fond of Cliff Osmond’s performance. Somehow he saw my post and wrote a note apologizing to me on my facebook page! I couldn’t tell if he was kidding or serious, but it was one of the oddest things that’s ever happened to me blogging!

  7. Hey pallie, likes Miss Mandi, how cool of you to put the accent on our most beloved Dino in this review. Never was, never will be anyone as cool as the King of Cool….oh, to return to the days when Dino walked the earth. Know that your KMS reflections are bein’ shared this day with all the pallies gathered ’round ilovedinomartin.