How to Murder Your Wife (1965)

Directed by Richard Quine

A movie from 1965, How to Murder Your Wife looks it. If you can recall the period, you may be able to see how the film might have been entertaining back then, but now it is extremely dated. Jack Lemmon’s performance, however, is quite good and you can see how skillful a performer he was.

The biggest problem with this movie has to be the basic premise: Jack Lemmon, a playboy bachelor gets drunk and marries a beautiful woman who jumps out of a cake.

She speaks only Italian and, as mentioned, she is beautiful.

Virna Lisi plays the woman Lemmon marries and, let’s say it again, she’s beautiful. She’s thoroughly devoted to Lemmon as his new wife.

Jack Lemmon and Virna Lisi as Mr. and Mrs. Stanley Ford.

There is absolutely no apparent downside here for Lemmon. Yet we’re expected to buy into his obsession with getting rid of her as a wife.

I’m sorry, it just doesn’t fly. The movie simply fails to create any kind of credible motivation for Lemmon’s compulsion to rid himself of his wife.

And this is where the film is dated.

At the time the film was made, this would have been a cultural running joke — male dominated society shackled by “the wife.” The sensibility is anachronistic now and, because of this, the movie no longer has legs.

Virna Lisa as the wife Jack Lemmon's character wishes he was ride of.

You have to buy into this sensibility in order for the film to work, and it’s impossible.

And did I mention how attractive Virna Lisi is, or how charming the character she plays? It bears repeating. I just can’t believe any man could be so stupid, not without some compelling motivation.

So … it’s a pretty lame movie. But I’ll watch it again to see Virna Lisi.

Have I said she’s beautiful?

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