Samantha Blake (Joanne Woodward) – in her mid-twenties and working as a fashion buyer for a leading New York store – hides her femininity under a plain raincoat, a pull-on hat and a pair of dark glasses.
Her boss, Joe (George Tobia), decides to take her on a business trip to the fashion centre of the world, Paris. With them goes Lena O’Connor (Thelma Ritter), another of his fashion buyers.
On the plane to France, Samantha meets an American newspaper reporter called Steve Sherman (Paul Newman), a rakish cad who is going to work in Paris. Her dark glasses and pull-on hat lead him to address her seriously as a man, and she – annoyed by his slightly tipsy state – retorts by telling him to ring Alcoholics Anonymous once he gets back to New York.
At Orly Airport, Samantha’s party is met by Felicienne Courbeau (Eva Gabor), who is to be their guide around the Paris fashion houses. She also appoints herself as Joe’s personal guide around the Parisienne night spots.
Joe falls for Felicienne’s powerful Gallic appeal, which is rankling for Lena, who for fifteen years has never lost hope that Joe might one day show an interest in her.
Lena pretties her middle-aged self up and goes out alone in the hope that some French man might appreciate her company. Samantha also sallies forth, but with no prettification. In fact, a street girl, seeing Samantha from the back as she stands on a bridge, approaches her ostensibly for a light and, suddenly realising she’s accosted one of her own sex, runs off into the night with a shriek of “Sacre bleu!”
Later in her solitary sightseeing tour, Samantha catches a glimpse of Steve in an open horse-drawn carriage from which two pairs of ladies legs are kicking gleefully. Samantha is a tiny bit envious; the romantic atmosphere of the City of Love is beginning to have an effect on her.
It finally wins her over during the St Catherine’s Day celebrations in which unmarried girls of 25 take a day off work and pray to St Catherine for a husband.
Placing flowers at a shrine to St Catherine, Samantha believes she hears a saintly voice with Irish intonations advising her to repair to the nearest branch of Elizabeth Arden for a facial overhaul. She goes in like a lamb and comes out – after extensive grooming – more like a lioness!
Steve doesn’t recognise her with her long blonde tresses and an even longer cigarette holder when he sees her sitting at a pavement cafe. She pretends to be a notorious lady of loose morals who can give Steve sensational copy on the indiscretions of Paris society.
Samantha spins him fantastic yarns that he prints in his column. There are hilarious romantic ups-and-downs between them before he tumbles to her deceit, and, furious at being taken in, Steve sets about deceiving Samantha in return.
Maurice Chevalier has a guest spot in the St Catherine’s Day celebrations, singing some of the songs from his famous musicals. Also heard is Frank Sinatra, who sings the title song against the credits. Jazz pianist Erroll Garner wrote the background music.
A New Kind of Love is not an art piece, a great classic, or a stellar example of brilliant filmmaking. But the film is cute, charming and clean, and New York City and Paris look gorgeous in the 1960s.
Robert F. Simon
Frenchman at Restaurant