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Film / Kiss Me, Stupid

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Kiss Me, Stupid is a 1964 Sex Comedy directed by Billy Wilder, written by Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond. It's an Americanized version of Anna Bonacci's 1944 Italian play L'ora della fantasia (The Dazzling Hour), which was also adapted into a 1952 Italian film, Moglie per una notte (Wife for a Night).

Orville J. Spooner (Ray Walston) is a church organist and music teacher in the small desert town of Climax, Nevada. He's married to the pretty Zelda (Felicia Farr) but is insanely jealous and suspects her of cheating behind his back. He also writes songs with gas station owner Barney Millsap (Cliff Osmond), though they've had no luck in getting any famous singers to perform the likes of "I'm a Poached Egg" or "I Left My Heart in San Diego".

A highway detour forces popular crooner Dino (Dean Martin) to stop for gas in Climax on his way from Vegas to Hollywood. Sensing a golden opportunity to pitch their songs, Barney practices Vehicular Sabotage on Dino's car, forcing him to spend the night at Orville's house. Once it becomes apparent that the amorous Dino expects to have a tryst with Zelda (who he hasn't met yet), Orville and Barney (but mainly Barney) cook up a scheme where Zelda is forced to leave the house and sexy cocktail waitress/prostitute Polly the Pistol (Kim Novak) poses as Orville's wife.

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Hilarity Ensues.

Very controversial in its day, sold as "Adults Only", and getting a Condemned rating from the Catholic Legion of Decency in the process. It's now considered an interesting curio in Wilder's later career.

Mel Blanc, far better known as the voice of almost all the characters in the Looney Tunes canon, has a rare live-action film role as Dr. Sheldrake the dentist.


I'm a Poached Trope:

  • Aborted Arc: The campaign by the local Moral Guardians to shut down the Belly Button (where Polly the Pistol works) and the revelation that the club's waitresses go to church every Sunday leads you to think there's going to be some kind of climactic clash between the two groups, but it gets completely lost in the shuffle.
  • Actor Allusion: Kim Novak plays a woman who accepts an offer from a man to pose as his wife, just like she did in Vertigo.
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  • Adam Westing: Possibly the Ur-Example for a full-length film. Dean Martin technically plays a character named Dino, but otherwise there's no attempt to suggest he's not appearing As Himself. He talks about the Rat Pack and his Signature Songs are "That's Amore" and "Memories are Made of This". But the real Dean Martin was a family man and moderate drinker. Dino is an Alcoholic and a Lovable Sex Maniac.
  • The Alcoholic: Dino.
  • Break the Cutie: Orville tries to do this to Zelda to get her out of the house, but she knows how to call his bluff, so it takes a lot of work on his part.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Orville, who falsely and viciously accuses the milkman and his adolescent piano student of having affairs with his wife.
  • Depraved Dentist: The Climax town dentist, Dr. Sheldrake (played by none other than Mel Blanc), is an aversion, since he tells jokes and is very generous with the laughing gas.
  • Everytown, America: Climax has this feel, but also has some specific Nevada elements, like a bar with slot machines and covert prostitution.
  • Fat Bastard: Barney sometimes comes off as one.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It's Billy Wilder, so naturally (starting with the story taking place in a town called Climax), but especially for a 1964 film it's quite frank about sex, to the extent that today it has a PG-13 rating.
  • Gigantic Gulp: That huge Chianti bottle fits this trope. They really did exist, by the way.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Not just Good Adultery, but totally condoned and ultimately the catalyst for the Happy Ending, which is why the Legion of Decency went after this film.
  • Happy Ending: For all the main characters: Dino opens his TV show with Millsap & Spooner's "Sophia" and tells the story of how he discovered the song, making them famous overnight. Orville and Zelda reconcile. Polly buys a new car and finally gets to leave Climax.
  • Henpecked Husband: Zelda's father (played by Howard "Floyd the Barber" McNear).
  • Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Zig-zagged with Polly the Pistol, who starts off with a Seen It All attitude, but Orville unwittingly brings out her warm, nurturing side.
  • Joisey: Polly the Pistol is from there, and has the accent to prove it.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Dino, who claims that if he doesn't have sex every night, he wakes up with a headache the next morning.
  • My Beloved Smother: Zelda's mother is the worst kind of nagging parent.
  • Personality Swap: The main thread in the second half of the film— Polly enthusiastically takes on the persona of being Orville's wife and living the domestic life, while Zelda ends up in Polly's trailer and has a one-night stand with Dino, who pays her $500.
  • Posthumous Collaboration: Ira Gershwin put together the songs written by Millsap & Spooner in-universe, writing new (and Stylistic Suck-y) lyrics to old unused George Gershwin melodies.
  • Really Gets Around: Dino and Polly.
  • Reverse Psychology: How Zelda finally gets Dino to agree to sing "Sophia".
  • Ripped from the Headlines: The film was shot around the time The Beatles were hitting it big in America, so the mention of them in the film was very topical, and Dino's dismissive joke reflected Martin's actual opinion of them.
  • Shout-Out: When he throws his teenage piano student out of his house, Orville calls him a "male Lolita".
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Neither Orville, Dino or Barney are very likable.
  • Title Drop: The last line of the film.
  • Zany Scheme: The plan to get Dino to sing one of Orville's and Barney's songs ends up becoming a bit convoluted.

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