In 1963, Paul Newman followed the superb, Oscar-winning drama “Hud” with a minor comedy, “A New Kind of Love,” produced, directed, and written by Melville Shavelson. He teamed for the fourth time with his wife, Joanne Woodward, in a film that was dismissed by most critics as too obvious and tasteless for the caliber of talent involved.
Frank Sinatra was hired to sing the title song, and Shavelson tried to infuse the lame scenario with sight gags and camera tricks, but to no avail; the film took all of 110 minutes to tell its slim plot.
Newman plays a ladies man newspaper columnist named Steve Sherman, who had been exiled to Paris for messing around with his publisher’s wife. On the plane, Steve meets Samantha Blake (Miss Woodward), a drab career girl, who is accompanied by her boss, Joseph Bergner (George Tobias) and store buyer Lena O’Connor (Thelma Ritter).
At first, Steve is repelled by Samanth’s dullness, and she thinks him an arrogant, alcoholic boor. Later, in Paris, the outwardly cool but inwardly love-starved Samantha finds herself at the St. Catherine’s Day celebration, where young unmarried girls pray for mates.
Samantha gets drunk, and imagines she has had a vision of St. Catherine, who gives her motherly advice on how to lure desirable males. Spiritually reborn, Samantha rushes out to a beauty parlor the next day and transforms herself from an ugly duckling to a swan. Sporting a blonde wig, trendy clothes, and a sophisticated attitude, she sets out to conquer the world. Meanwhile, Lena, who is in love with Joseph, watches him romance Felicienne (Eva Gabor), their French agent.
While encountering the new Samantha, Steve fails to recognize her, and she decides to promote his impression that she is a courtesan. He listens to her imaginative lies about her glamorous life as the Sultana of Sin, and uses them in his newspaper column, leading to great circulation numbers.
Predictably, the couple falls sincerely in love, and eventually Steve learns that the femme is no other but the drab Samantha. Meanwhile, Lena gets a contrite Joe on the rebound, when Felicienne rejects him, and all ends happily for both pairs of lovers.
Maurice Chevalier (guest star)
A Denroc Production.
Produced, directed, and written by Melville Shavelson.
Photography by Daniel Fapp. Music by Leith Stevens. Additional Themes by Erroll Garner. Title Song sung by Frank Sinatra. Art Direction, Hal Pereira and Arthur Lonergan. Set Decorations by Sam Comer and James Payne. Editor, Frank Bracht. Costumes by Edith Head. Paris Originals by Christian Dior, Lanvin-Castille and Pierre Cardin. Sound by John Cartier. Makeup by Wally Westmore. Assistant to the Producer, Hal Kern. Production Manager, Andrew J. Durkus. Assistant Director, Arthur Jacobson. Color consultant, Hoyningen-Huene.
Running time, 110 minutes.