Unfaithfully Yours is a 1948 screwball comedy film written and directed by Preston Sturges and starring Rex Harrison, Linda Darnell, Rudy Vallee and Barbara Lawrence. The film is a black comedy about a man's botched attempt to murder his wife, who he believes has been unfaithful to him. Although the film, which was the first of two Sturges made for Twentieth Century-Fox, received mostly positive reviews, it was not successful at the box office.
Eventually, despite his efforts, he learns the content of the report directly from Sweeney: while he was gone, his wife was spied in a compromising situation involving Alfred's secretary, Anthony Windborn (Kurt Kreuger), a man closer in age to her own.
Distressed by the news, Alfred quarrels with Daphne before proceeding to his concert, where he conducts three distinct pieces of romantic-era music, envisioning revenge scenarios appropriate to each one: murdering his wife, nobly accepting the situation, and suicide by Russian Roulette. After the concert, Alfred tries to stage his fantasy of murdering his wife, but is thwarted by his own ineptness, making a mess of their apartment in the process. When Daphne returns home, he realizes that she really loves him, and learns that she is innocent of Sweeney's charges: it was her sister Barbara (Barbara Lawrence), August's wife, who was having an affair with Windborn. Alfred begs Daphne's forgiveness for his irrational behavior, which she gladly gives, ascribing it to the creative temperament of a great artist.
Preston Sturges wrote the original screen story for Unfaithfully Yours in – the idea came to him when a melancholy song on the radio influenced him while working on writing a comic scene. Sturges shopped the script to Fox, Universal and Paramount who all rejected it during the 1930s.
In , Sturges envisioned Ronald Colman playing Carter, and later initially wanted Frances Ramsden – who was introduced in Sturges' film The Sin of Harold Diddlebock – to play Daphne; but by the time casting for the film began, he wanted James Mason for the conductor and Gene Tierney for his wife.
Studio attorneys were worried about the similarity between Sturges' "Sir Alfred de Carter", a famous English conductor, and the real-life famous English conductor Sir Thomas Beecham, and warned Sturges to tone down the parallels, but the connection was noted in some reviews anyway. (Beecham's father was Sir Joseph Beecham, a pharmacist who invented "Beecham's Pills", a laxative. It's speculated that Sturges named his character "Carter" after "Carter's Little Liver Pills".)
Unfaithfully Yours, which had the working titles of "Unfinished Symphony" and "The Symphony Story", went into production on 18 February , and wrapped in mid April of that year. By 28 June the film had already been sneak previewed, with a runtime of 127 minutes, but the film's release was delayed to avoid any backlash from the suicide of actress Carole Landis in July. It was rumored that Landis and Rex Harrison had been having an affair, and that she committed suicide when Harrison refused to get a divorce and marry her. Harrison discovered Landis' body in her home.
The film premiered in New York City on 5 November , and went into general release on 10 December. The Los Angeles premiere was on 14 December. It was marketed with the tagline: Will somebody "get her" tonite?
In February of , after the film was released, William D. Shapiro, who claimed to be an independent film producer, sued Fox and Sturges with a claim that the story of the film was plagarized from an unproduced screen story by Arthur Hoerl, which Shapiro had been intending to produce. The connection was supposedly composer Werner Heymann, who frequently worked with Sturges and who Shapiro had interviwed to be the music director on his film.
The studio-quality tape recorder that cut vinyl records seen in the film is similar to ones used to secretly tape Horowitz and Benny Goodman during their concerts at Carnegie Hall and on the NBC Radio studios at Rockefeller Center. These rough cuts were later mastered into LPs which came to be considered classics. Arthur Rubinstein owned three of these devices, but contrary to what is shown in the movie, they were difficult to use and required professional technicians to man them.