Friday, February 13, 2015

#1,642. My Brother's Wife (1966)

Directed By: Doris Wishman

Starring: June Roberts, Sam Stewart, Bob Oran

Tag line: "Sex was her master! Lust was her destiny!"

Line from the film: "I'm beautiful. I really am. Don't you want me?"

Frankie (Sam Stewart) has just arrived in New York City, and his first stop is to see his brother Bob (Bob Oren), who lives in an apartment with his young wife Mary (June Roberts). The moment Frankie lays eyes on the stunning Mary, he wants her, but she’s determined to remain faithful to Bob. That changes, however, when Mary realizes Bob, who’s much older than she is, will never satisfy her lustful desires, at which point she and Frankie engage in a torrid affair. What Mary doesn’t realize, though, is that Frankie is also seeing his old flame Zena (Darlene Bennett). In need of money so that he and Zena can leave town together, Frankie lies to Mary, telling her he wants to take her to Mexico, where she can get a quickie divorce from Bob so that the two of them can be married. Saying he needs money to set this plan in motion, Frankie tells Mary to turn over her and Bob’s entire savings, $2,000. Because she’s deeply in love with Frankie, Mary agrees, but will she learn the truth in time, or will Frankie skip town with her money, leaving Mary all alone?

Despite its steamy storyline, director Doris Wishman’s low-budget sexploitation flick My Brother’s Wife is nothing to write home about. For one, every single line of dialogue was dubbed during post-production, which leads to a few unintentionally hilarious “discussions” (Frankie and Zena somehow carry on an entire conversation while making out, their lips locked onto one another). Wishman also continues her obsession with inanimate objects in this film, occasionally panning away from the action to focus on an ashtray or a slab of sidewalk concrete. On a technical level, My Brother’s Wife is competently shot (a fight in a pool room, which kicks off the movie, is fairly well handled), and the story itself shows promise early on (giving off a vibe similar to that of the classic noir flick The Postman Always Rings Twice). And while its tale of deception does fizzle out a bit in the last act, the finale packs a wallop, finishing things in highly dramatic fashion. As far as the sex goes, My Brother’s Wife would best be classified as “adult lite”, with one memorable scene of nudity (Mary stands in front of a mirror, admiring her shapely curves) and a sexual encounter between Frankie and Mary that’s shown entirely in silhouette (another well-shot sequence). There’s even a bizarre lesbian encounter, which, though interesting, is entirely out of place in this film (besides, it isn’t the least bit erotic).

With a few scenes shot on the streets of New York (including a segment or two in Central Park), My Brother’s Keeper is, at the very least, a time capsule of a bygone era, but anyone in the mood for high drama or a little skin would be better served looking elsewhere.

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