This movie had the misfortune of being released just around the time of JFK's assassination, where it got swallowed up in the general grief of the time. It did not do well at the box office, and one of its publicity stunts backfired when Dallas police saw personal ads in the newspaper signed by "Lee" and asking to meet up at an appointed place. The police thought it might be a Lee Harvey Oswald connection, not a Lee Remick stunt -- and spent some time chasing down this blind alley.
I caught the film while flipping channels in the middle of the night and quite enjoyed it.
Laurence Harvey plays an airline pilot/owner who loses out when a two-days' late insurance premium lets his insurance company deny his legitimate claim after he crashes his plane in the sea, narrowly escaping with his life. An honest guy with a love of risk-taking and a mutually reciprocated passion for his beautiful wife, Lee Remick, he decides to get back at the insurance company by faking his own death, with his wife's reluctant collusion. She hopes that this will get his anger out of his system and give them enough money to live comfortably, which seems to be why she goes along with the scheme. But at heart she just wants a quiet, comfortable life, an "ordinary life", she tells him. He, however, takes to life at the edges quite wonderfully, and pretty soon he's all about living the high life and risking their freedom with additional swindling schemes.
Alan Bates plays the insurance investigator who comes round to the wife asking questions after her husband's "death". He has a whole Columbo thing going on, asking questions in an affable, bumbling way that always seems to indicate he knows more than he is letting on. He turns up again in Malaga, Spain, where the couple has gone with the insurance money to start their new life. Again, he's got the questions that could be innocent or could be a dogged inspector following his prey.
Harvey decides that the best way to keep an eye on Bates is to invite him along to enjoy the Malaga sun and surf with the two of them. The three of them hang out together, swimming and eating and drinking and enjoying what Bates says is his vacation time and Harvey claims is a working vacation. Remick is supposed to be the new widow, technically single, who gravitates to the orbit of the Australian rich guy that Harvey is impersonating.
At the movie's emotional core is, yes, a love triangle, as Lee Remick grows disenchanted with her husband's attraction to the James Bond lifestyle while discovering that Alan Bates likes museums and quiet walks, like she does, and seems to like her.
So it's cat and mouse between the two guys on two levels -- over the insurance money and over the woman. The Malaga locations are glorious and reminded me of the villages in Romancing the Stone where Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas run across weddings, dancing, and general romantic danger.
The movie doesn't take itself seriously, and the characters are conflicted in a way that you don't know what to hope for and what the final moral and romantic resolutions will be. Will the husband redeem himself? Will the wife stay true to him or fall in with the man who is on his tail? Harvey is not irredeemable and we do feel sympathy for him, and see that he is more oblivious to his wife's unhappiness than deliberately mean. He treats her as an extension of himself and just doesn't recognize that she has no interest in playing Bonnie to his Clyde.
Good flick. Not great, but good.