Pennsylvania, 1859. Railroad tycoon Brennan (Alan Hale) is muscling in on oil-drilling farmers, led by Peter Cortland (Randolph Scott). Cortland must try to save their oil business, while also saving his marriage to Sally (Irene Dunne).
Inspired by a performance of his favorite play, "Volpone," twentieth century millionaire Cecil Fox (Sir Rex Harrison) devises an intricate plan to trick three of his former mistresses into believing he is dying. Although the women are wealthy in their own right, all have good reason to covet his fortune. To assist him in his scheme, Fox hires William McFly (Cliff Robertson), a gigolo and sometime actor, to act as his secretary/servant. Fox is soon visited at his "deathbed" by the three former mistresses: Merle McGill (Edie Adams), a fading Hollywood sex symbol; Princess Dominique (Capucine), who once took a cruise on Fox's yacht; and Mrs. Lone Star Crockett Sheridan (Susan Hayward), a Texas hypochondriac who travels with an enigmatic nurse/companion (Dame Maggie Smith). As Fox and McFly act out the charade, things take an unexpected turn from comical farce to full-blown murder mystery.Written by
One wonders if the reviewer immediately preceding me saw the same film as did the rest of us. One look at previous reviews, however, and one gets the distinct impression that the reviewer either hasn't the ability to appreciate anything outside its time, or hasn't the intellect to understand that nonconformity and iconoclasm don't always signal independence and brilliance, but rather often signal conformity to boorish, would-be iconoclastic opinions, and dullness. (Just peruse a few of the reviews, and then tell me that I'm wrongly slinging hash.) This film is as witty and urbane as anything that issued from Hollywood during its era. (Note my lone qualification.) Harrison is nearly used to maximum effect, here. Robertson's never been a favourite, but he's good, here. The ladies' performances are all well done. It's also nice to see something from an era when big budgets yielded really solid pictures (if not always results).
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