Unfaithfully Yours (1984) **

This is one of those heretic remakes, another being the Mel Brooks version of To Be Or Not To Be, that take on an original so acclaimed that it is impermissible to suggest revisiting it was even a good idea, and absolutely forbidden to dare admit that the interloper might be as good as its source.
The reason it is so imperative to deny any such thing, however, and in the case of both films, is because it is so manifestly true.
But Lubitsch and Sturges occupy a secure position in film history, and it will wobble neither's pedestal to concede that, in their very different ways, the remakes are fully comparable to the originals, and in some ways perhaps even superior.

The advantage this one has over its inspiration is that it streamlines the action. Sturges had an amazing comic imagination, but also a profligate and undisciplined one, which was fine when he was firing on all cylinders, but which at other times could leave the narrative feeling a little flabby and unfocused. The original Unfaithfully Yours, in which orchestra conductor Rex Harrison imagine three separate means of dealing with what he believes to be his wife's infidelity, is perhaps a good case in point. But here, Dudley Moore (so much more likeable than Rex) concocts only one plot, a hopelessly convoluted 'perfect murder', which then goes deliciously wrong at every step in a final third that surely eclipses the Sturges version on a purely laugh-count basis.
Forget the inherent heresy and you should find yourself enjoying a relaxed and charming comedy, almost certainly Moore's best post-Arthur vehicle, with enjoyable concert hall backgrounds and nice work from Armand Assante as the supposed rival, Albert Brooks as Moore's naive confidante, and Nastassja Kinski as his wife. The latter, an icon of early-eighties cinema, is here at the zenith of her mainstream popularity, stunningly beautiful, playing nicely against Moore, and clearly enjoying herself in a rare comedy role.