Let me begin by extending a warm thanks to the folks at Reel Life Video in Brooklyn, New York. Were it not for them, you would be reading a review of a current DVD release--maybe Resident Evil: Apocalypse, or perhaps the Final Destination Scared 2 Death Pack. Really, it could have been anything from the new release wall, but blind luck and a surly hipster video clerk conspired instead to deliver Preston Sturges's Unfaithfully Yours to my door, labeled both "Drama" and "New" and therefore able to pass undetected into my home by way of my well-intentioned (but not very film-knowledgeable) partner. The mix-up is to be expected – this particular film, plucked from the Sturges archives and revamped by the Criterion Collection in 2005, is as unplaceable as it is brilliant. It doesn't fit easily into any particular niche, and resists, as Sturges himself did, being labeled and shelved by folks who don't know nil from nought.
A fifty-eight year old film that confuses video clerks today surely flummoxed audiences then. Now more properly dubbed a "pitch-black comedy," Unfaithfully Yours announced itself to the world as "six kinds of picture in one!" and the trailer, a bonus feature on the Criterion Collection disc (and what should be a stock feature on any DVD of any film), zips from one clip to the next, rubbernecking the viewer with rapid fire promises of "Great music! Sheer terror! Hilarious comedy! Tense drama! Sparkling dialogue and high temperature romance!" I personally envisioned six frazzled 20th Century Fox studio executives, wagging their cigars at each other, spitting invectives and cursing Sturges's name. "Comedy!" one cried, "Murder!" cried another, "Screw it! Do 'em all!" cried the last.