That Kind of Woman (1959): Lumet’s Romantic Melodrama, Starring Sophia Loren and Tab Hunter

After a brilliant directing debut, Twelve Angry Men in 1957, Sidney Lumet made several weak films, including That Kind of Woman, a tedious, predictable romantic melodrama, starring Italian sex goddess Sophia Loren and the all-American hearthrob Tab Hunter.

The screenplay by Walter Bernstein, based on a short story by Robert Lowry (“Layover in El Paso”), bears some resemblance to the 1938 film The Shopworn Angel.

Set in New York City in June 1944, during World War II, the tale centers on Kay, a sexy Italian woman who’s a kept woman as the mistress of a Manhattan millionaire industrialist known as The Man.  Her sponsor is using her good looks to help him secure greater influence at The Pentagon.

The film’s first half takes place on a train, en route from Miami to New York City, where Kate and her friend Jane meet American paratrooper named Red (Hunter) and his sergeant George Kelly (Jack Warden).

Predictably, Kay falls for the naive and good-hearted boy, who refuses to see her for what she is.  Initially, she treats him as a boy (“Go back to your mother”) and rejects his davances.

However, in due time, she is torn between a lucrative upscale life in a Sutton Place apartment owned by George Sanders, and the prospects of true love with the young and sincere but poor GI.

Will she Kay join the soldier, who has never been in love before, that night when he leaves town by train?

The black and white film was shot on location in New York City and Long Beach, New York.

Realizing the weaknesses of the source material, Lumet relies heavily on close-ups of Loren and Hunter, who are stick with unbearably banal dialogue.

A critic and commercial flop, That Kind of Woman did not do anything to promote the Hollywood career of newcomer Loren. The beautiful and talented Italian would go back to Italy the following year to make De Sica’s grim neo-realistic drama, Two Women, for which she would receive the Best Actress Oscar.

Sophia Loren as Kay
Tab Hunter as Red
Jack Warden as George Kelly
Barbara Nichols as Jane
Keenan Wynn as Harry Corwin


Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by Marcello Girosi and Carlo Ponti
Written by Robert Lowry Walter Bernstein
Music by Daniele Amfitheatrof
Cinematography by Boris Kaufman
Edited by Howard A. Smith
Art Direction by Hal Pereira, Roland Anderson
Costume Design by Edith Head
Makeup by Wally Westmore