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Move Over Darling

Posted: 25 Feb 2006, 21:58
by Ralph

Review by Bosley Crowther
New York Times (1963)

More than 23 years ago, Cary Grant, Irene Dunne and Gail Patrick made that rollicking romantic farce called "My Favorite Wife" a deserved favorite of moviegoers. Now, this feeble frolic simply proves that merry marital mixups must either be a state of mind or an extremely fragile framework for a film.

Metamorphosed into "Move Over, Darling" as the vehicle for Doris Day, James Garner and Polly Bergen, which made a Christmas Day landing at the Astor and other theaters, "My Favorite Wife" not only is showing her age but also has turned out to be a largely unfunny ear-bender.

For the record, it should be noted that "My Favorite Wife" was being remade, and scrapped, last year as "Something's Got to Give," starring the late Marilyn Monroe. Essentially, however, it is still the screwy saga of a man who remarries, thinking his wife is dead, and the wacky involvements that follow when the first wife turns up just as he is about to start on his honeymoon. With or without comparisons with the original, however, "Move Over, Darling" appears to be straining and shouting for effects that should be natural and uncontrived.

A viewer is constantly belabored by the obvious and the punches and punch lines are nearly always telegraphed. Will the hotel manager be confused by the presence of one seemingly upstanding citizen with wives in two adjoining suites? He is. Will the second wife's honeymoon hunger remain unrequited? It does. Will a handsome, rugged gent show up as the first wife's companion on that Pacific island for the five years she was thought to be dead? He does. Will it all turn out neatly for all concerned with an assist from mother-in-law? It does, with all the certainty that the principals will live happily ever after in a beautiful Beverly Hills manse complete with two lovely little daughters.

The trouble in this second-hand paradise is that Doris Day, as the first wife; Polly Bergen as the frustrated second wife and James Garner, as the confused man-in-the-middle, spend most of their time being loquaciously redundant and overly energetic in situations that cry for defter and lighter touches.

Under Michael Gordon's direction, a few sight gags are mildly comic, but the supporting cast including Chuck Connors, as Miss Day's desert island man; Fred Clark, as the hotel manager; Don Knotts, as a timid shoe clerk and Elliott Reid, as a psychiatrist, have mighty little to do effectively.

Edgar Buchanan gets a laugh or two as a bumbling, irascible judge and Thelma Ritter is a properly lovable curmudgeon of a mother-in-law. At one point, when some of Miss Day's gambits to recapture her spouse have failed, Miss Ritter acidly suggests, "better think of something else." That advice could apply to "Move Over, Darling," too.

Posted: 26 Feb 2006, 09:33
by jmichael
The tone of Bosley Crowther's review is a tad snarky but I have to agree that Michael Gordon's direction and the script pushed the cast overboard (no pun intended) to grab the laughs. You could see Doris, Garner and Bergen straining at times to overcome the predictablity of the story. And as others have commented Doris's wig in the hotel scenes became a distraction becase it did not match between shots. Someone in continuity must have been asleep. I do find several scenes a hoot though: the car wash proved again that Doris could handle physical comedy with the best of them; the scene with Doris and Don Knotts (God rest his soul) at the department store was priceless; and the courtoom scenes with Edgar Buchannan.

Posted: 26 Feb 2006, 10:58
by Ken
I enjoyed the movie very much and found it entertaining from start to finish. I found the car wash scene very funny. Thelma Ritter was excellent along with the other funny cast members.

Move Over, Darling

Posted: 26 Feb 2006, 11:30
by Ralph
When I saw that Don Knotts passed, I found this review from the New York Times and decided to share it. I've read many reviews of "Move Over Darling" and not many are favorable. Crowther was, at the time, the most powerful of movie critics. He wasn't one of those that hated Doris Day, for he praised her many times.

I personally felt that this was a low point during Doris' reign at the boxoffice and I blame it on the director, Michael Gordon, who was obviously so dazzled by Day's super stardom, that he failed to direct her properly. But, then, the script was not that strong either. At Day's level of power, the best writers should have been hired to write great scripts for her, or to adapt Broadway plays for the screen. What was Marty thinking when he looked at "Move Over," "Do Not Disturb," "Where Were You...," etc.? :roll: The world's biggest female star was acting in movies that wasted her time and talent.

"Move Over Darling" might have been fine for Marilyn Monroe, but it wasn't worthy of Doris Day.

A "good" film

Posted: 26 Feb 2006, 12:19
by howard
I really like MOD. I give it a (strong) "good." I don't find it to be over the top at all. I think the situations call for that nutty, slapsticky feel. I laughed throughout, and as I recall it, the audience was in stitches. It was a tremendous box office hit, despite the mosty mixed reviews. DD's scenes (both of them) with Don Knotts are priceless. Her timing and her expressions added immeasurably to the fun, and I can't see another female star doing as good a job. I liked the clothes, and I really didn't notice the hairdo faux pas (sp?). I thought DD looked fantastic in the movie, the clothes really showed off her wonderful figure (LOVE that Adam and Eve scene!) and overall, it was a HIT in my eyes, despite the critical drubbing!

Honeymoon Hotel

Posted: 26 Feb 2006, 13:55
by Ralph
Howard wrote:

I liked the clothes, and I really didn't notice the hairdo faux pas (sp?).

Hi, Howard. Do you have the film in your collection? I think what happened is that they filmed the scene more than once with different wigs and then took the best of both takes and spliced them together. This wig "faux pas" was most obvious in the hotel room with James Garner when she asked him, "did you tell her that you loved her?" If I recall correctly, the phone rang, she answered it with a different wig. Anyway, it was in that scene.

And yes, you spelled "faux pas" correctly.

car wash

Posted: 27 Feb 2006, 01:18
by howard
Lauren: That car wash was just a few blocks west of the 20th Century-Fox Studio. I believe it was (still is!) on Olympic Boulevard in Beverly Hills.

Posted: 28 Feb 2006, 07:18
by jmichael
Lauren makes a good point about the critics confusing script and direction problems with their perception of Doris. By the time MOD came out she was so big and so popular with the romantic comedies that some critics started to nitpick and look for flaws. There's always a critical backlash of some sort when a performer gains the kind of stature that Doris accomplished. This is where her management team should have realized the forumla for success needed a new twist and gotten her better scripts that would have built on her natural talent and allowed her to move into more demanding roles. She could have done wonders with the Patricia Neal role in "Hud" (albeit supporting) or the Audrey Hepburn lead in "Wait Until Dark" among others.

What a great ad lib that was in the car wash by the way.

Posted: 01 Mar 2006, 00:31
by jmichael
Well I guess I should have said her "mis-management team." Agree that it was all about the money but Marty Melcher was foolish not to see that Doris could have continued to command big bucks by changing with the times and tackling more demanding roles in better films. God knows she had the acting chops to deliver.

Posted: 13 Mar 2006, 12:32
by c.j
Car wash scene is the funniest!!

Posted: 17 Apr 2006, 14:17
by Debbi Austen
I'ts usually not a good idea to remake a screwball comedy that originally had big stars like Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Fortunately I didn't know this was a remake the first time I saw it and thought it was cute . The plot is a little lame, but I think Garner and Day made it unique with thier own comedy style.

I laughed out loud when Doris was giving Polly a "Swedish Massage". I too enjoyed when Garner was envisioning Doris and Chuck on the island. I'm am glad Doris got a chance to do this film.


Posted: 17 Apr 2006, 15:51
by webmaster
Nothing in life - or art - is perfect but at least we have a record of Doris and James Garner doing their best to entertain us in a film that the public, at the time, went to see in huge numbers. I'd rather see a 'bad' Doris Day film than much of what Hollywood produces now - ie, over-the-top violence and sex.
I'm by no means a prude but whatever happened to allowing the audience to use their imagination?

Posted: 18 Apr 2006, 08:41
by Debbi Austen
Agreed Bryan.

Posted: 30 Nov 2006, 12:55
by Tanja
The new DVD Cover:

Light Blue terrycloth robe?

Posted: 26 Jan 2007, 16:30
by ray
I have seen photos of Doris in movie books with the bulky light blue terry cloth robe on with Thelma Ritter, but bever saw Doris wear it in the movie scenes. Did I miss the scene? Didn't Marilyn wear the same kind of robe for Somethings Got To Give?

Re: Light Blue terrycloth robe?

Posted: 26 Jan 2007, 18:25
by John M
ray wrote:I have seen photos of Doris in movie books with the bulky light blue terry cloth robe on with Thelma Ritter, but bever saw Doris wear it in the movie scenes. Did I miss the scene? Didn't Marilyn wear the same kind of robe for Somethings Got To Give?
No Ray, you didn't miss a scene. There was a sequence filmed where Doris takes a bubble bath to get ready to go up to Monterey, and then puts on the terry robe and talks with Thelma Ritter on the side of the bathtub. It came between the scene in which Doris first meets Thelma again and when she arrived at the hotel in Monterey, but it was cut out for time. There's also a famous picture of Doris in the bubble bath from the set, with her legs crossed and her toes sticking up out of the bubbles. It's adorable.

That bath pic!

Posted: 29 Jan 2007, 09:40
by Jas1
Thanks John and Ray - for clearing this up. I thought that picture of Doris in the bath was from MOD - pity the scene couldn't be included in Xtra features in the new DVD.


Posted: 29 Jan 2007, 10:59
by joe t.
At the time it was announced, I thought it was a bad idea that Doris was going to do a movie that Marilyn had started and then died while in the middle of filming it. I thought it was in poor taste.

I recall reading that MOD was part of a deal with 20th Century Fox that Doris would get to do "Sound of Music" if she agreed to do MOD. That story didn't play out but it didn't upset me because I found SOM to be too sugary and Doris didn't need any more of that shtick.

I also did not like the idea of another remake. She had done remakes with "Young At Heart" and "Man Who Knew Too Much". The film critics always spent half their reviews comparing the new movie with the older one and concluding that the older one was better. I suspected the new MOD would not compare well with the original with Cary Grant and Irene Dunne.

But after the freshness, wit and chemistry of Doris and Garner in "Thrill Of It All", I found MOD to be tired and disappointing for all concerned.

I know people enjoy MOD very much, and I agree there were some funny scenes, but I am in Ralph's camp on this one.

Posted: 30 Jan 2007, 15:20
by LuckyDay
Check your mail, folks. I received my copies of the 20th Century Fox Doris Day collection. The studio out did themselves.

They do have a Doris vs Marilyn Featurette but that's like comparing apple and rhubarb.

Polly Bergen looks fabulous. In fact, Fox put a tremendous amount of detail into all 3 of the movies. There are pictures we've never seen and the restoration is fantastic. Did you get to see Move Over Darling in the theater back in the 60's? Looks just like that.

And God bless Jackie Joseph.

Posted: 30 Jan 2007, 20:54
by John M
Yes, Fox did a superb job. I'm thrilled with these dvds. They could have slapped the films alone on disc, but they really took care and went the extra mile. They did Doris proud!! :D

Posted: 31 Jan 2007, 12:36
by Ken
I received mine in the mail yesterday and watched the bonus material on 2 of the 3 dvd's. I agree with John --Fox did a great job.

Move Over Darling

Posted: 01 Feb 2007, 16:11
by ray
It was haunting to see Marilyn doing similar scenes as Doris. Meeting the children and the shoe storeman. Wally Cox was in the Something's Got To Give version while Don Knotts is in Move Move Darling. The dialogue was changed when Marilyn asked the shoe salesman about his lunch and she said , "Take it out". Dean martin Walked off the picture when Marliyn was fired. I wonder if Doris had reservations about doing this picture with all the background and bad press about it? But a deal was a deal and if Fox and Mary set it up then Doris being the proffesional, did it and very well as always.

Doris Vs Marilyn

Posted: 01 Feb 2007, 16:48
by ray
Another intersting point brought up in the DVD conversations was that Doris was spoofing Marilyn in The Thrill Of It All.

Doris & Marilyn

Posted: 01 Feb 2007, 17:01
by ray
I learned at the 1987 DD Convention that Connie Edney had at one point worked with Marilyn Monroe. Connie was very gracious and nice when I spoke to her. Connie was Doris's longtime assistant and wardrobe Lady.

Some musings on MOD

Posted: 03 Feb 2007, 16:09
by John M
"We're the only one in our school that has a drownded mother!" :D

"She can't some back. She's drownded. Like this: glub, glub, glub." :D

"Don't be sad. She's not in the grave. She's at the bottom of the ocean: the deepest part!" :D

Anyone else notice how HARD Doris hits Thelma Ritter with the water from the vase in their first scene together? LOL! Thelma was no spring chicken and that water was moving at terminal velocity! LOL!