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U.S., 1964
Directed by Billy Wilder
Starring Dean Martin, Kim Novak, Ray Walston
Screenplay by Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, and Anna Bonacci
Approx. 126 min. 35mm.

"Billy Wilder’s relentlessly ribald 1964 comedy turns reality in on itself with the casting of Dean Martin as Dino, a big-time singer who is endowed with many of the real-life performer’s tabloid attributes, including his coziness with the Rat Pack and his appetite for wine and women. When a detour lands Dino in the small town of Climax, Nevada, two local songwriters—Barney Millsap (Cliff Osmond), a gas-station attendant, and Orville J. Spooner (Ray Walston), a supercilious piano teacher in a Beethoven sweatshirt—scheme to sell him their songs by plying him with sex, ostensibly offering him Orville’s wife (Felicia Farr), whom a prostitute called Polly the Pistol (Kim Novak) is recruited to impersonate. The results are less funny than they are surprisingly moving, as characters’ stifled dreams emerge with straightforward emotional force. Truffling the script with droll movie references, Wilder and I. A. L. Diamond, his co-writer, reveal their true subject: the power of Hollywood itself. In their view, the business is built on a rotten core of immorality—which is one of the most liberating things it has to offer." — Richard Brody, The New Yorker

Film Forum