That Kind of Woman (1959)

Genres - Drama, Romance  |   Sub-Genres - Romantic Drama, War Romance  |   Run Time - 92 min.  |   Countries - USA  |  
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The importance of true star power is amply demonstrated by That Kind of Woman. While Woman might have been mildly daring in its day, as it frankly acknowledges the existence of "kept" women who do more for their pay than just smile and look pretty, it is only Sophia Loren that makes it of any real interest to modern audiences. The screenplay isn't horrible, mind you, although it makes no real sense. Loren is established as a woman who is perfectly happy being kept, wants and needs the benefits that come with being kept, and is in a relationship that doesn't put a lot of demands on her that she wouldn't want. Yet, she gives it all up for "true love" -- and the audience just doesn't buy it. With Tab Hunter at his physical peak, it would be easy to believe she would be interested in his character sexually, but we just don't buy that she would risk and sacrifice everything for him. Still, with that major drawback aside, the rest of the screenplay is perfectly acceptable, if not original or exciting. Sidney Lumet directs in a surprisingly clumsy manner, sacrificing clarity and pacing in order to train the camera close up on his attractive stars. They certainly are pretty adornments, but Hunter's acting is straightforward and by the numbers. Loren blows him off the screen, turning in a star-powered performance that is not necessarily great acting but is a testament to her presence and charisma. She gets some fine support from George Sanders and Barbara Nichols and some exceptional support from Keenan Wynn and especially from a young Jack Warden. Their support is valuable -- but it's nothing compared to Loren's contribution.