What A Way To Go
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Paul Newman, Shirley MacLaine, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin. With a cast list too long to mention, MacLaine plays the very wealthy widow Louisa Foster. After her four husbands died trying to make and keep all their riches, Louisa decides to rid herself of millions in an attempt to avoid their fate. 1964/color/111 min/NR/widescreen.
People who cherish the post-Terms of Endearment, post-reincarnation phase of Shirley MacLaine's career might be surprised to discover just how sexy and kooky she was in a past life--that is, the first few years of her movie career. After the triumphs of Some Came Running and The Apartment, MacLaine had a run of starring roles, including this elaborate comedy vehicle. What a Way to Go! cast MacLaine as an unlucky bride whose husbands meet early deaths, leaving her wealthy but unhappy. Gimmick casting of the hubbies adds a bit of dash: Dick Van Dyke as a simple country storekeeper, Gene Kelly as a two-bit entertainer, bearded Paul Newman as a Brandoesque, bohemian painter in Paris. In the movie's best turn, Robert Mitchum gets to play a Howard Hughes character, and Dean Martin and Robert Cummings are around for the ride.
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
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All Louisa May Foster (Shirley MacLaine) wants in life is a loving husband and a simple life, free from the trappings of wealth. But when Louisa marries Edgar Hopper (Dick Van Dyke) he becomes so obssessed with the almighty dollar, success quickly leads to his early demise. The story is played out several more times as Louisa falls in love with passionate painter Larry Flint (Paul Newman), brash playboy Rod Anderson (Robert Mitchum) and hoofer Pinky Benson (Gene Kelly), and each of her husbands succumbs to the same fate, leaving her with more money than she knows what to do with. This movie is an absolute romp!
Shirley MacLaine glitters in no less than 78 fabulous Edith Head/Moss Mabry-designed outfits (who were wisely Oscar-nominated for their efforts). Also on hand are Bob Cummings (Louisa's flustered psychiatrist) and Dean Martin.
This DVD includes a beautifully-restored anamorphic print, with some great bonus features highlighted by newsreel footage of the movie's lavish Worlds Fair premiere, audition footage for the role of `Frida the Chimp', and copious trailers of other classic releases from Fox.
What a cast! What a movie! What a way to go!
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