How to Murder Your Wife Again
The classic 1965 comedy starring Jack Lemmon and Virna Lisi will be revisited next month.
Several new film locations will be added to the original page with new and improved screen shots. In the film, Jack Lemmon plays Stanley Ford, a happily unmarried man with all the creature comforts one could desire, including a wonderful butler who takes care of all his material needs. At a bachelor party for a friend, Ford gets drunk and wakes up married to an Italian woman, played by the beautiful Virna Lisi, and who speaks nearly no English. It totally alters his life. He even changes the cartoon he writes and shifts it from a secret agent to a household comedy. When he begins to have trouble with all of these changes, he starts to plot that at least his secret agent cartoon will return to order and plans, in his daily comic strip, killing his wife. When she disappears, the cartoons are used as evidence at his trial.
There were only about ten different daily strips drawn for the movie. This sequence from early in the film, when Bash Brannigan was still a secret agent, you can instantly see what's going on as Brannigan's tracks down a stolen microfilm and dispatches the bad guys after it.
Another example from later in the film is when Stanley Ford played by Jack Lemmon outlines his murder plot in his comic strip. In this case, we see this sequence after its been acted out in the movie.
Virna Lisi was born 8 November 1936 in Ancona, Marche, Italy. She began her film career in her teens. Discovered in Paris by two Neapolitan producers, Antonio Ferrigno and Ettore Pesce, she debuted in La corda d'acciaio (The line of steel, 1953). Initially, she did musical films, like E Napoli canta (Napoli sings, 1953) and the successful Questa è la vita (1954, with the popular Totò). Nonetheless, her beauty was more valued than her talent, as seen in Le diciottenni and Lo scapolo films of 1955. Yet she filled demanding roles, particularly in La Donna del Giorno (1956), Eva (1962), and the spectacle Romolo e Remo (1961).
In the late 1950s, Lisi did theater at Piccolo Teatro di Milano in I giacobini by Federico Zardi under the direction of Giorgio Strehler. During the 1960s, Lisi did comedies and participated in television dramas that were widely viewed in Italy. Lisi also promoted a toothpaste brand on television with a slogan that would become a catchphrase among Italians: "con quella bocca può dire ciò che vuole".
Hollywood producers sought a new Marilyn Monroe, and so Lisi debuted in Hollywood comedy as a blue-eyed blonde temptress opposite Jack Lemmon in How to Murder Your Wife (1965) and appeared with Tony Curtis in Not with My Wife, You Don't! (1966). Lisi then starred with Frank Sinatra, in Assault on a Queen (1966), in La Ragazza e il Generale, co-starring with Rod Steiger, and in two films with Anthony Quinn, The Secret of Santa Vittoria, directed by Stanley Kramer, and the war drama The 25th Hour. She also gained attention for a photo of her 'shaving' her face that appeared on the March 1965 cover of Esquire magazine.
Indeed, to overcome her role typecasting as the Seductive Woman, Virna Lisi sought new types of roles, of evil women or of a lover in relationships of disparate age for example. In those years, Virna Lisi participated in Italian productions, in Casanova 70 and Le bambole (1965), Arabella (1967), and Le dolci signore (1968). Lisi also starred in The Birds, the Bees and the Italians (1965) which shared the Palme d'Or at Cannes that year. In the early 1970s, Virna Lisi decided temporarily to attend to her family, husband Franco Pesci and her son Corrado, born in July 1962. Nonetheless, a career renaissance occurred soon for Virna with a large list of productions, including Al di là del bene e del male (1977), Ernesto (1979), and La cicala (1980). For the film La Reine Margot (1994), Lisi portrayed a malevolent Catherine de' Medici and so she won both the César and Cannes Film Festival awards, along with a Silver Ribbon for Best supporting Actress.
Particularly since the late 1990s, Virna Lisi did many successful dramatic productions of television. In 2002, Lisi starred in her last film, Il più bel giorno della mia vita.
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