The Millionairess (1960)

ANTHONY ASQUITH

Bil’s rating (out of 5):  B

United Kingdom, 1960Twentieth Century Fox, Dimitri De Grunwald Production.  Screenplay by , adaptation by , based on the play by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

Abysmally confused adaptation of George Bernard Shaw’s play, about a wealthy heiress (Sophia Loren, whose delightfully intelligent humour can do very little to save the show) whose father leaves instructions in his will that she only marry a man who takes a sum of her money and multiplies it in a given period of time.  Her initial attempt at courtship with a tennis star fails miserably, leading her to an instructor she hires to make her appealing for marriage (yeah right), but he makes a play for her while also insulting the memory of her father, causing her to reject him and try to kill herself in the Thames.  This puts her in the way of an Indian doctor (Peter Sellers, also surprisingly not talented enough to make this worth watching) whom she decides to conquer but finds it difficult as he is uninterested in wealth and only wants to help the disenfranchised masses of London.  Sellers, it turns out, was also instructed by a deceased parent in marriage, his directive to only marry a woman who can survive on little money and turn it into a successful enterprise.  For Loren, this is a challenge to earn herself a worthy husband, so she takes over a pasta-making sweatshop owned by Vittorio De Sica and turns it into a successful enterprise while also building Sellers a brand new clinic with her plentiful resources.  Aside from the fact that Shaw’s original play, sort of a bawdier Pygmalion, has been shred to ribbons, it hasn’t been turned into anything that’s particularly palatable as a film even if you don’t mind that it has been adapted so loosely.  Sellers and Loren have subzero chemistry between them and the appeal for either of them to each other as characters is a complete mystery.  The delightful ditty “Goodness Gracious Me”, recorded to help sell tickets but not actually included in the film, is the only really good thing to come out of this disaster.

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