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Thursday, October 16, 2014

What A Way To Go! (1964)

A wealthy four times a widow (Shirley MacLaine) feels she is a jinx as each of her four marriages has ended disastrously. She started out as a simple country girl with no interest in money and fame yet her all husbands ended up as millionaires even if they didn't start out that way. This big budget comedy is a satire on movie conventions while playing into those conventions so completely that it seems that the film makers lost their way and have become the very thing they're parodying. As a comedy, it's very hit and miss and never as funny as it tries to be which is disappointing because its screenwriters, Betty Comden and Adolph Green wrote the ultimate movie satire SINGIN' IN THE RAIN! MacLaine imagines each of her marriages as a film genre: Her marriage to Dick Van Dyke is seen as a silent movie, her marriage to Paul Newman is seen as a B&W foreign film, her marriage to Robert Mitchum as a lush Sirk like Technicolor drama and her marriage to Gene Kelly as a big budget MGM musical. Some of the stuff works, some of it doesn't. The film's real star is Edith Head whose exaggerated eye popping costumes are among her best and most imaginative work. Directed by J. Lee Thompson whose filmography (GUNS OF NAVARONE, CAPE FEAR, TARAS BULBA) doesn't suggest he has the requisite touch for a comedy like this. With Dean Martin, Robert Cummings, Margaret Dumont (in her final film), Reginald Gardiner, Fifi D'Orsay and Barbara Bouchet.

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