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Seeing it on a very old DVD practically on its last legs and as a fan of Ezio Pinza's voice, 'Strictly Dishonorable' was surprisingly enjoyable. Love classical music/opera/musicals and Pinza, but opera stars don't always work as well on film as they do on stage and am also taking into account the huge loss that 'Strictly Dishonorable' had on release.
Not a great film as such. The story is thin and sometimes unbelievable in its silliness. The Italian supporting actors tend to overact and mug, and not just mildly, we're talking embarrassingly broadly. The production values are less than lavish too, the film having a somewhat made in haste look.
However the music is lovely, both the songs written for the film and the operatic excerpts, Pinza singing "Le Veau D'Or" with terrifying virility. The script is witty fun and has a lot of charm and heart, not an amazing script but there's far worse around. The story isn't great here, but kept afloat by the magical chemistry of Pinza and Janet Leigh and by the energy and that it clearly knows what it's trying to be and do and doesn't try to be anything more.
Like as was said in my review for 'Mr Imperium' (a vastly inferior film), Pinza had a beautiful, noble bass voice (one of the most naturally beautiful of any operatic bass along with Nicolai Ghiaurov), and he sings sublimely, despite being retired from opera and shifting to Broadway his voice is one that you can listen to for hours and never tire of. He acquits himself much better in the acting stakes too, more natural, less over-eager, plus his chemistry with Leigh here is much better than the non-existent one with miscast Lana Turner in 'Mr Imperium. Leigh is a far more engaging leading lady, being incandescent and vivacious.
Gale Robbins is effective, while Millard Mitchell is suitably droll.
All in all, fun and in no way dishonourable if not exactly a film one would call great. 7/10 Bethany Cox
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