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Who Was That Lady? (DVD Review)

25 Feb, 2013 By: Mike Clark

Manufactured on demand via online retailers
Sony Pictures
$20.95 DVD
Not rated.
Stars Tony Curtis, Dean Martin, Janet Leigh, James Whitmore.

The other Janet Leigh movie of 1960 came out in the spring before Psycho summer, but it’s predominantly a boys-will-be-boys farce about a chemistry professor (Curtis) whose TV-writer pal (Martin) gets him out of a scrape involving a kiss by a comely student that’s unfortunately witnessed by spouse Leigh.

The offshoot is a bigger scrape emanating from the Dino Solution, which involves palming the two of themselves off as secret agents in the FBI, no less, who are working undercover against the Russians. Adapted from a Norman Krasna play that couldn’t have been as good minus the consummate Dino comic timing, this is agreeable fluff that gets a boost in the late going from a very funny scene involving a legitimate FBI agent (an ulcer-prone James Whitmore) and the era’s ultimate in buxom blondes: Barbara Nichols and Joi Lansing (an actress my younger son has only recently discovered for a visual payoff bringing bountiful joi to his world).

Martin sings the title tune here, which he performed on a January, 1960 NBC special I own — one that featured the consummate guest-star pairing of Andre Previn and Fabian (two names that have always been synonymous). This solo on-demand release was previously available only in a Dino two-fer with 1968’s cinematic flat tire How To Save a Marriage and Ruin Your Life, on which Martin and director Fielder Cook reportedly clashed over the number of takes (guess who wanted fewer), spurring Martin to refer to filmmaker as the “guy with the two last names.”

As for Lady director George Sidney, his late-year follow-up turned out to be the disastrous Pepe, the picture that may have caused Columbia Pictures accountants more strife than any release until 1973’s Lost Horizon.

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