Wife and Limb

It’s time once again for Forgotten By Fox, and as the series winds towards its conclusion, we reach Fox’s mid-life crisis in the 1960s (what a time to have one!)

Submitted for your possible approval: George Axelrod’s THE SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN WIFE. Here.

How can you resist?

8 Responses to “Wife and Limb”

  1. chris schneider Says:

    I haven’t seen SECRET WIFE, myself, but reading your piece makes me suspect that one of the influences is Wilder’s KISS ME STUPID. What with the housewife sleeping with the Great Star, and all that.

  2. chris schneider Says:

    Erratum: SECRET LIFE, that is to say.

  3. David Ehrenstein Says:

    Axelrod was a mad genius, deserving of intense further research. as a screenwriter he had a good relationship with director Richard Quine with whom he fashioned “How To Murder Your Wife.” His screenplay for “Breakfast at Tiffany’s is almost as exquisite as Audrey Hepburn (the charitable will overlook Mickey Rooney) His masterpiece is “The Manchurian Candidate” and “Lord ove a Duck” is in many ways its sequel.. The title “The Secret Life of An American Wife” was created by FOX management. Axelrod’s title was “The Connecticut Look” — which iswhat his heroine fears she’s getting as she approaches middle-age. The cast of Walter Matthau as a Warren Beatty-style lothario is the sort of joke Mrs. Matthau (so brilliant in Elaine May’s “Mikey and Nicky”) would doubtless have appreciated. It’s “Filmed Theater” very much in the manner of late period Alain Resnais. Not at all bad, but not his best. I went to high school with Howard Fast’s son. His mother was first married to Axelrod — who she invariably referred to as “George the Rat.’ Rat he may have been, but he was doubtless well aware of his limitations. The title of his last novel is “Where Am I Now When I Really Need Me?” He can also be seen in the home movies Roddie McDowell made on memorial day weekends at his place in Malibu. They’re on You Tube. George can be seen chatting with Lauren Bacall and of course Tuesday Weld

  4. “Guide for the Married Man” could be taken as a sequel to “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying”. Beside both films taking their titles from satirical books, the latter offers Robert Morse as a brightly amoral corporate climber and the former has him as an upper-class family man applying similar principles to adultery. Yes, Morse is a fun caricature in one and a real (in Hollywood terms) sleaze in the other, but there’s an arc of unethical striving that connects them.

  5. I liked Paris When it Sizzles more than I expected, and it’s hard not to see it as a glamorized self-portrait of a cynical screenwriter.

    Axelrod’s last scripts — though it’s hard to tell how seriously he intends The Holcroft Covenant — show pretty much the kind of decline you’d expect from Sizzle’s William Holden character (Joe Gillis, if he never got shot by Norma Desmond, and became successful), who is unconvincing only in his redemption.

    I think in this case, Fox’s title beats Axelrod’s, which is amusing only if you see the film — and is funny as a concept expressed by the Jackson character, but less so if it’s the title, expressing Axelrod’s own prejudices.

  6. David Ehrenstein Says:

    “Paris When It Sizzles” is a remake of Duvivier’s “La Fete a Henriette” I much prefer “How To Murder Your Wife” with Jack Lemmon overcome by the ineffable lusciousness of Virna Lisi — as Terry-Thomas (his manservant) looks on disapprovingly.

  7. Since I know an actual New York cartoonist, the suave lifestyle Jack Lemmon enjoys in HTMYW has always seemed the epitome of realism to me…

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