The Millionairess Sophia Loren and Gary Raymond

The Millionairess

(film, comedy, 1960; 90 minutes; Twentieth Century Fox)

Cast (in order of billing): Sophia Loren, Peter Sellers, Alastair Sim, Dennis Price, Gary Raymond, Alfie Bass, Miriam Karlin, Noel Purcell, Virginia Vernon, Basil Hoskins, and Vittorio de Sica. Directed by Anthony Asquith.

Cinemascope Cinemascope? Drat. Gary Raymond gets cut out of the frame a lot if you don't have a letterboxed version.

In this 1960 comedy based on the play by the same name by George Bernard Shaw, Sophia Loren is a wealthy heiress who attempts to buy the love of a poor East Indian doctor (Peter Sellers) after her winsome young husband (Gary Raymond) leaves her for a down-to-earth poor girl. Overall, the production is a bit stagey and heavy, but there's a parade of marvelous dresses for Sophia. The humour is dry and witty -- it's Shaw, after all -- but Peter Sellers' performance (in, of course, Egyptian No. 5) didn't hold my interest.

Gary Raymond appears in only two scenes, both with Sophia Loren.

Scene 1: Epifania (Sophia Loren) has chosen to marry Alastair (Gary Raymond) because he's athletic, a first-class tennis player, a boxing pro, and because "unlike most handsome men, he strips so well, and I'm very susceptible to sex appeal." Nonetheless their first scene together finds them arguing furiously behind closed doors. He accuses her of treating him like a child. She shouts unintelligibly. We finally see him as she tosses him out of their room, on the grounds that he's a cold jellyfish interested in nothing but boxing. With an attempt to muster some dignity, he picks himself up off the floor, straightens his tux, and leaves.

Below: Sophia Loren and Gary Raymond (or, at least, their hands)

Scene 2: Epifania discovers that Alastair is having a chaste love affair with poor pretty Polly Smith (Virginia Vernon) from the bad side of town. She tracks them down and has it out with him. He can't stand up to Epifania in a fight, but Polly shows her how happy they are together -- Polly can make him laugh. In fact, they proceed to laugh hysterically. "When a nice ordinary fellow like Alastair tries to live with someone marvelous," explains Polly, "they just get completely eaten up."

14 February 1999

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