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20th Century Fox presents
A Guide for the Married Man (1967)

Paul: That's the trouble with Ruth. She's such a wonderful wife.
Ed: Look, Paul, if you care enough for your wife, you can always find something about her that you can't stand.

- Walter Matthau, Robert Morse

Review By: Jeff Wilson   
Published: September 14, 2005

Stars: Walter Matthau, Robert Morse, Inger Stevens
Other Stars: Lucille Ball, Jack Benny, Polly Bergen, Joey Bishop, Sid Caesar, Art Carney, Wally Cox, Jayne Mansfield, Hal March, Louis Nye, Carl Reiner, Phil Silvers, Terry-Thomas
Director: Gene Kelly

MPAA Rating: PG for adult themes
Run Time: 01h:31m:07s
Release Date: September 06, 2005
UPC: 024543190899
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ C+B-B+ D

DVD Review

Films like A Guide for the Married Man retain some small value in these days of just about anything goes because of their time-capsule-like properties. This was a film released by a major studio, with many talented, even legendary comedic performers taking part, all in the cause of what was ostensibly a saucy sex comedy. Needless to say, this film was probably tame when it first saw release, but the dated values and attitudes make for some amusing retro-minded viewing.

Based on the book by Frank Tarloff (who also is given screen credit as scriptwriter), Guide presents to us the education in adultery of Paul Manning (Walter Matthau), a well-to-do financial advisor who is married with child. His wife is the gorgeous Ruth (Inger Stevens), and for whatever unholy reason, he finds himself considering an affair. This despite a tasty opening sequence in which Ruth does her evening exercises in front of Paul, who only has eyes for his book, and who then passes up the chance for less literary endeavors with Ruth because he needs to finish his chapter. When buddy Ed (a lightheartedly scummy Robert Morse) asks Paul to cover for him after Ed's latest conquest, Paul becomes interested, and quickly moves into a role as Ed's student, learning the ins and outs of cheating on one's spouse. Ed's lessons are illustrated by vignettes starring the likes of Lucille Ball, Art Carney, Joey Bishop, Jack Benny, Terry-Thomas, and other comedians. Ed puts Paul through a strict program, all in the interest of keeping one's wife from finding out, because, as Ed repeatedly tells Paul, the true sign of love is to keep your wife from ever finding out you're cheating and making her deal with all that comes with that knowledge.

Legendary dancer Gene Kelly directed, and he keeps things moving at a spritely pace, happily filling our frame with a cornucopia of cleavage, legs, and derrieres. It's paradise for the leering animal in all of us (men, that is). Matthau is suitably clueless, though we never really learn why he would want to cheat on the virtually perfect Ruth; perhaps the point, if one is being made, is that Paul just wants to be hip, desperately so, and will even threaten his marriage to become so. Or it could just be lazy scriptwriting. In any case, the movie is quite cheerfully chauvinistic, and it's final homily to married life rings a bit hollow after the celebrations of infidelity we've just witnessed the previous 87 or so minutes. That said, some of the vignettes, are quite amusing, with Joey Bishop's example of a man practicing the credo of "deny, deny, deny" quite classic. A celebrated bit with Terry-Thomas and Jayne Mansfield was hardly as good as some have proclaimed it to be, but to each their own.

As noted above, the film's main problem is that it spends the better part of 90 minutes going over how to become a primo adulterer, only to cop out and make sure we all know that bad things happen when you cheat. The 1970s were just around the corner, and the lesson proffered by the film was ignored during that decade of hedonistic pursuits. If the film only had the courage of its initial convictions, or allowed the female characters to play on equal terms, it might have been something more memorable. There are still some fun moments here, but overall, this is a journey to the past that doesn't really lead anywhere.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: C+

 

Image Transfer

 OneTwo
Aspect Ratio2.35:1 - Widescreen1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyesno
Anamorphicyesno


Image Transfer Review: Generally okay, though there are plenty of shimmering lines throughout. I didn't find it too diverting from the action at hand, though others will probably feel differently. The film is presented in its original widescreen format of 2.35:1 and a pan-and-scan print for those who would rather the screen was not so filled with attractive women.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
MonoEnglish, French, Spanishyes
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: English 2.0 mono and stereo, and French and Spanish mono are your choices. I couldn't tell much difference between the two English tracks, to be honest. Either should suit for your viewing purposes. "Johnny" Williams' swinging score comes across nicely in each.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 20 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish
1 Original Trailer(s)
Packaging: Amaray
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: The trailer is all that's here, which isn't especially surprising. The trailer doesn't look as good as the film itself, but it is presented anamorphically.

Extras Grade: D

 

Final Comments

A fun piece of fluff until it cops out at the end, this won't be to all tastes, but it's worth a peep if you're a fan of Matthau. The DVD looks decent but has no real extras.

 


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