The Secret Life of an American Wife


1h 32m 1968

Brief Synopsis

An insecure housewife has an affair with a well-known cinema actor, in order to prove to her husband that she's still a desireable woman.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Jun 1968
Production Company
Charleston Enterprises
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Synopsis

Victoria Layton, a suburban housewife devoted to her husband Tom, a harried public relations man, resents his statement that she could never have been a successful call girl. Exaggerated recollections of past sexual adventures serve further to convince her that life is passing her by. After bolstering her courage with several brandies Victoria calls her husband's biggest client, movie star "Charlie," and sets up a date with him as a $100 call girl. Instead of a mad sexual fling in Charlie's New York hotel suite, however, Victoria finds herself nursing his sinus attack. At first upset that the screen's famed lover finds her no more desirable than does her husband, Victoria is somewhat assuaged when Charlie confesses that his prowess as a lover is based on press releases. After exchanging confidences and discovering that they are compatible, Victoria and Charlie eventually make love; but their idyll is shattered when Tom telephones from the lobby and announces that he is on his way up. While Victoria hides in the bedroom, Tom storms in, tells off Charlie, threatens to quit as his press agent, and punches Charlie in the nose. After ministering to Charlie's wounds, Victoria returns home. As she leaves, Charlie slips her a $100 bill for cab fare.

Film Details

MPAA Rating
Release Date
Jan 1968
Premiere Information
New York opening: 25 Jun 1968
Production Company
Charleston Enterprises
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 32m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (DeLuxe)

Articles

George Axelrod, 1922-2003


George Axelrod, a writer whose sharp, cunning satires of the '50's and 60's influenced the more wry, pop-culture sensibility of modern filmmakers, died June 21 of heart failure at his Los Angeles home. He was 81.

Born June 9, 1922, in New York City to the son of the silent film actress Betty Carpenter, he had an eventful childhood in New York where, despite little formal education, he became an avaricious reader who hung around Broadway theaters. During World War II he served in the Army Signal Corps, then returned to New York, where in the late 40's and early 50's he wrote for radio and television and published a critically praised novel, Beggar's Choice.

He scored big on Broadway in 1952 with The Seven Year Itch. The comedy, about a frustrated, middle-aged man who takes advantage of his family's absence over a sweltering New York summer to have an affair with a sexy neighbor, won a Tony Award for its star, Tom Ewell, and was considered daring for its time as it teased current sexual mores and conventions. The play was adapted into a movie in 1955 by Billy Wilder, as a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, with Ewell reprising his role. Unfortunately, the censors and studio executives would not allow the hero to actually consummate the affair; instead, Ewell was seen merely daydreaming a few romantic scenes, a situation that left the playwright far from happy.

Nevertheless, the success of The Seven Year Itch, opened the door for Axelrod as a screenwriter. He did a fine adaptation of William Inge's play Bus Stop (1956) again starring Marilyn Monroe, and did a splendid job transferring Truman Capote's lovely Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). Although his relationship with the director Blake Edwards was rancorous at best, it did earn Axelrod his only Academy Award nomination.

So frustrated with his work being so heavily revised by Hollywood, that Axelrod decided to move from New York to Los Angeles, where he could more closely monitor the treatment of his scripts. It was around this period that Axelrod developed some his best work since he began producing as well as writing: the incisive, scorchingly subversive cold war thriller The Manchurian Candidate (1962), based on Richard Condon's novel about an American POW (Laurence Harvey) who returns home and is brainwashed to kill a powerful politician; the urbane comedy Paris When it Sizzles (1964) that showed off its stars William Holden and Audrey Hepburn at their sophisticated best; his directorial debut with the remarkable (if somewhat undisciplined) satire Lord Love a Duck (1966) that skewers many sacred institutions of American culture (marriage, school, wealth, stardom) and has since become a cult favorite for midnight movie lovers; and finally (his only other directorial effort) a gentle comedy of wish fulfillment The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968) that gave Walter Matthau one of his most sympathetic roles.

By the '70s, Axelrod retired quietly in Los Angeles. He returned to write one fine screenplay, John Mackenzie's slick political thriller The Fourth Protocol (1987) starring Michael Caine. He is survived by his sons Peter, Steven, and Jonathan; a daughter Nina; seven grandchildren; and a sister, Connie Burdick.

by Michael T. Toole
George Axelrod, 1922-2003

George Axelrod, 1922-2003

George Axelrod, a writer whose sharp, cunning satires of the '50's and 60's influenced the more wry, pop-culture sensibility of modern filmmakers, died June 21 of heart failure at his Los Angeles home. He was 81. Born June 9, 1922, in New York City to the son of the silent film actress Betty Carpenter, he had an eventful childhood in New York where, despite little formal education, he became an avaricious reader who hung around Broadway theaters. During World War II he served in the Army Signal Corps, then returned to New York, where in the late 40's and early 50's he wrote for radio and television and published a critically praised novel, Beggar's Choice. He scored big on Broadway in 1952 with The Seven Year Itch. The comedy, about a frustrated, middle-aged man who takes advantage of his family's absence over a sweltering New York summer to have an affair with a sexy neighbor, won a Tony Award for its star, Tom Ewell, and was considered daring for its time as it teased current sexual mores and conventions. The play was adapted into a movie in 1955 by Billy Wilder, as a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, with Ewell reprising his role. Unfortunately, the censors and studio executives would not allow the hero to actually consummate the affair; instead, Ewell was seen merely daydreaming a few romantic scenes, a situation that left the playwright far from happy. Nevertheless, the success of The Seven Year Itch, opened the door for Axelrod as a screenwriter. He did a fine adaptation of William Inge's play Bus Stop (1956) again starring Marilyn Monroe, and did a splendid job transferring Truman Capote's lovely Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961). Although his relationship with the director Blake Edwards was rancorous at best, it did earn Axelrod his only Academy Award nomination. So frustrated with his work being so heavily revised by Hollywood, that Axelrod decided to move from New York to Los Angeles, where he could more closely monitor the treatment of his scripts. It was around this period that Axelrod developed some his best work since he began producing as well as writing: the incisive, scorchingly subversive cold war thriller The Manchurian Candidate (1962), based on Richard Condon's novel about an American POW (Laurence Harvey) who returns home and is brainwashed to kill a powerful politician; the urbane comedy Paris When it Sizzles (1964) that showed off its stars William Holden and Audrey Hepburn at their sophisticated best; his directorial debut with the remarkable (if somewhat undisciplined) satire Lord Love a Duck (1966) that skewers many sacred institutions of American culture (marriage, school, wealth, stardom) and has since become a cult favorite for midnight movie lovers; and finally (his only other directorial effort) a gentle comedy of wish fulfillment The Secret Life of an American Wife (1968) that gave Walter Matthau one of his most sympathetic roles. By the '70s, Axelrod retired quietly in Los Angeles. He returned to write one fine screenplay, John Mackenzie's slick political thriller The Fourth Protocol (1987) starring Michael Caine. He is survived by his sons Peter, Steven, and Jonathan; a daughter Nina; seven grandchildren; and a sister, Connie Burdick. by Michael T. Toole

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

Location scenes filmed in Manhattan and New Canaan, Connecticut.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Summer August 1968

Released in United States Summer August 1968