Starring: Tony Curtis, Rosanna Schiaffino, Zsa Zsa Gabor
Director: Ken Hughes
Running Time: 100 mins
Drop Dead Darling is a British film about a man who hatches a plan to kill his wife for her money, but when she discovers the plot, she attempts to do the same to him.
Although it may not have the world’s greatest humour, nor a story that matches up to a unsettling string of wife-killing comedies in the mid-60s, Drop Dead Darling is at times a pretty entertaining watch. It’s not a raucous comedy, but with a really fun central performance from Tony Curtis and a generally light-hearted atmosphere, it makes for a simple throwaway watch.
On the whole, there’s not all that much to highly praise here, but one thing about the movie that I had a lot of fun with was Tony Curtis’ performance. In yet another effortlessly charismatic turn, Curtis is a heap of fun to watch from start to finish, and despite his rather unsavoury ways with regard to his marriages, he manages to bring you fully on side with all that suave and charisma.
And that makes the film a whole lot more fun to watch. Although it’s a better film, the often similar How To Murder Your Wife doesn’t always manage to provide the light-hearted fun it should simply because its protagonist, and the man planning the murder, just isn’t so likable, meaning that you’ve got the small moral dilemma nagging away in the back of your head when you should just be sitting back and enjoying the silliness on screen.
That’s not the case with Drop Dead Darling, however, simply because Tony Curtis is so charismatic that you can’t help but fall into his trap, which means that your fully with him in all his murderous plots and exploits despite it being something that you normally would immediately back away from.
Curtis is by far the stand-out of the film, but director Ken Hughes also manages to provide some fun with a pleasantly lightweight vibe that makes the story seem all the less morally dubious and the all the more enjoyable to sit back and watch.
Despite that, the same can’t quite be said for the screenplay. While the overall premise is pretty entertaining, the way that Drop Dead Darling pans out is rather dull and repetitive at times, with very little genuine or consistent character or plot development across the whole runtime, with the story only really sparking into life in a few short bursts.
What’s more is that the comedy just isn’t that funny. Again, most of the laughs come from the fact that watching Tony Curtis using the most outlandish methods to kill his spouse just seems so wrong, but when it comes down to the written gags, they rarely make you laugh out loud, and particularly in some of the film’s longer comedic sequences, where even a joke set-up doesn’t land, it’s really hard to stay interested in what can be a slightly dragging and frustrating watch at times.
Overall, Drop Dead Darling is a bit of a mixed bag. Yes, it’s got a really entertaining central performance fro Tony Curtis that provides a big chunk of the laughs, whilst its lightweight vibe means its flaws aren’t quite as painful. However, its lacklustre story and underwhelming comedy don’t do much to keep you fully enthralled, nor endlessly entertained, and that’s why I’m giving it a 6.9.