What a Way to Go!
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A flabbergasting parade of Edith Head outfits keeps MacLaine hopping, and each segment has a Hollywood fantasy based on MacLaine's vision of her passing marriages (silent comedy, sexed-up foreign flick, splashy musical). Typical of a certain kind of super-production of the era, the film is impressive rather than entertaining, busy rather than funny. Perhaps hiring J. Lee Thompson, who directed The Guns of Navarone, was not the best idea for this Comden-Green script. It snuck in as one of the top ten box-office grossers of 1964, and it has one great surrealist sequence where Gene Kelly orders his house and grounds to be painted entirely pink. --Robert Horton
Top Customer Reviews
Here it's all about timing, reaction and pace. All of witch Miss MacLaine is an expert. It is a sheer joy just to watch her take a thin story and make magic out of it. Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, and Dean Martin aid her in her romp across the cinemascope screen.
There are two standouts in the husband department for me, first, Paul Newman as an ex-patriot American artist in Paris. Rarely do we get to see him execute a comic turn and here as Larry Flint he is both sexy and funny. And Robert Mitchum as Rod Anderson, the maple syrup king is a delight.
The cleverest aspect of the story is the use of Louise's remembrances of each marriage as a different genre of film from the silent screen to the big splashy musicals of the 1950's. The funniest occurs when she is married to Mitchum. It is a Lush Budget production all the way. Also of note is the big dance number with Gene Kelly, in and of itself a lampoon of Mr. Kelly's famous routines over at M.G.M. a decade before.
Also of note is the superb color and cinematography of Leon Shamroy fresh off his Oscar win with "Cleopatra" the year before. (Note the in-joke jabs at Cleopatra and Richard Burton in two segments.) And glittering right up there with her best work are the stunning costumes of Edith Head.Read more ›
Shirley MacLaine made several screwball comedies in the 60's such as Woman Times Seven, John Goldfarb Please Come Home, and The Bliss Of Mrs Blossom, but What A Way To Go is one of the best. She is helped immeasurably by a galaxy of stars portraying the men in her life - smooth and oily Dean Martin, rubber-faced and loose-limbed Dick Van Dyke, bearded and self-spoofing Paul Newman, surprisingly charming Robert Mitchum, the always delightful Gene Kelly, and a somewhat manic Robert Cummings. As an added treat, the Marx Brothers' old foil Margaret Dumont is wonderfully over-the-top as MacLaine's dragon of a mother. You just don't get casts like that anymore.
Another nice touch is the way several genres of film are spoofed as MacLaine wistfully recalls the best days of each of her marriages. The musical extravaganza with Gene Kelly, in particular, is a real joy. Kelly was over 50 but still had all the moves while MacLaine reminds us what a fantastic dancer she was - with equally fantastic legs. I also loved Paul Newman as the world-weary abstract artist. Many people forget that he made a number of comedies way back when, and that he was pretty good in them.Read more ›
A tale of an innocent who dreams of a 'simple life', marrying progressively richer men who leave her an ever richer widow, is the kind of tongue-in-cheek farce that European filmmakers relish, but was unfamiliar to American audiences of the early sixties. Writer Gwen Davis' original story was written to satirically echo Monroe's own marital misadventures, and might have provided the star her best vehicle since "Bus Stop". But Monroe's career took a tragic nosedive, culminating with her death, at 36, in 1962, leaving Fox with a script, a director (J. Lee Thompson), and a film in preproduction.
Gifted songwriting team Betty Comden and Adolph Green, fresh from transferring their B'way hit, "Bells Are Ringing" to the screen, saw the script, and were invited to rework it as a comic vehicle for MacLaine. The talented actress, who had achieved major stardom in "The Apartment", was being given a major build-up by Fox, who wanted to showcase her untapped skills as singer/dancer, as well as in comedy. Thus a lighter, more dazzling "What a Way to Go!" was born.
Fox spared no expense on the production, with over 70 Edith Head costumes, choreography by Gene Kelly, and a new song by Jule Styne...but they balked over Frank Sinatra's salary demands, to play one of the husbands (he was replaced by Robert Mitchum).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is one of my favorite movies for many reasons. The cast is iconic Hollywood and the Fashion is beyond ! If you ever questioned your fate and destiny ... Read morePublished 7 days ago by David F. Reposar
Kinda campy, and old Hollywood with many classic movie stars. Great costumes and just a light-hearted fun movie with a happy ending.Published 22 days ago by Catherine Bodenstedt
One of my favorite movies - funny, clever, and with an all-star cast. It's one of those movies I watch now and then - as opposed to once. Read morePublished 23 days ago by Barbara Hegedus
It's been one of my favorites for a long time. I could watch it a hundred times and never be tired of it.Published 2 months ago by Brian E Matico
This was one of my favorite movies as a kid. I love the plot and seeing Shirley Maclaine sing and dance and get married to pretty-much every leading man of the day - is a lot of... Read morePublished 3 months ago by P. LAMASTER
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