Saturday, July 2, 2016

A Flea in Her Ear

A movie returning to FXM Retro after a long absence is A Flea in Her Ear, which you can catch tomorrow ag 9:40 AM. (It'll be on again on Monday and then on July 14.)

The plot is one that sounds like a lot of fun. In Belle Époque-era France, upper-class housewife Gabrielle Chandebisse (Rosemary Harris) answers a knock on the door to find that a hotel has discreetly sent her husband, lawyer Victor (Rex Harrison), a package. The only thing is, that package obviously implies that Victor has been spending time at the hotel. So when Gabrielle goes to the hotel to find out what's up, she learns that it's the sort of hotel people go to to have romantic liaisons. Gabrielle unsurprisingly concludes that her husband may be having an affair.

But how to figure out what's really going on? Gabrielle meets her lady friend, Suzanne de Castilian (Rachel Roberts), and together the two come up with a brilliant plot. Suzanne will write a letter to Victor, getting him to meet her at the hotel, at which point Gabrielle will show up and confront Victor. That sounds like a reasonable plan, but of course it has a catch. Suzanne's husband Henri (Louis Jourdan) just happens to be a friend of Victor's. And when Victor gets the letter, he has no idea what's been going on, since it turns out he hasn't been going to the hotel (more on that in a bit). Victor shows the letter to Henri to ask for advice, and Henri gets the idea that his wife is cheating on him!

Back to the hotel and the package that was sent to to Victor. Victor had lent something to his nephew Pierre (Edward Hardwicke), who is the one who was going to the hotel; Victor was in fact perfectly faithful. Pierre, on the other hand, has issues. He's sex-obsessed, and and also has a cleft palate, which necessitates wearing a prosthetic palate or else he's unable to speak. Eventually, everybody winds up at the hotel, and complications ensue.

The idea behind the movie is a good one, but for me it ultimately fell down thanks to the characterization of Pierre. He's incredibly annoying, and the scenes with him are interminable. The ending is also a bit too zany and manic for my tastes. Still, there are some good points here, making A Flea in Her Ear something that could stand to be remade with a better script.

I don't think A Flea in Her Ear has been released to DVD, which means you're going to have to catch the FXM Retro showings. That's a bit of a problem too, since the last time they showed this one, it was in a panned-and-scanned print.

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