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Posts Tagged ‘shirley maclaine’

Take Dean Martin, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Dick Van Dyke and Shirley MacLaine, put them all together in one film, and ask yourself what could possibly go wrong?  Answer: NOTHING!  Nothing is wrong with this film at all!

MacLaine is Louisa May Foster, a rich widow who is sent to see a psychiatrist after trying to give the IRS $200 million.  She tells him all about the four very different men she married (and the one she turned down), all of whom died and left her a fortune.  The stories of each of her marriages, to Edgar Hopper (Van Dyke), Larry Flint (Newman), Rod Anderson (Mitchum) and Pinky Benson (Kelly), as well as her first engagement to Leonard Crawley (Dean Martin), who she turns down in favour of Hopper, are told in flashback, with Louisa imagining each one as a film in a different genre.  Gradually each marriage turns from blissfully happy to sad – for Louisa anyway – as she encourages her husbands to chase their dreams, only to wish they hadn’t done so.

Despite the fact that the film describes four marriages gone wrong and four deaths, it is unquestionably a comedy, as it’s opening sequence makes perfectly clear, showing Louisa descending a pink staircase, wearing a pink dress, ahead of a pink coffin in an entirely pink house.

The story is light and fluffy, and my goodness, how lucky was Shirley MacLaine to be romanced by Martin, Newman, Mitchum and Kelly?!  I can only imagine that she was the envy of many viewers when this film came out!  She looks beautiful herself, and also does a rather lovely song and dance number with Gene Kelly, which was a joy to watch.

It looks sumptuous too, with MacLaine wearing a series of increasingly outlandish outfits, and lots of colour throughout.  There are lots of truly funny moments, and I burst out laughing several times, even having to rewind the film occasionally because my laughter made me miss a few lines.

Packed with gorgeous stars, and with a frothy, funny storyline, this film has shot straight into my list of top ten favourite movies, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good comedy.

Year of release: 1964

Director: J. Lee Thompson

Producer: Arthur P. Jacobs

Writers: Gwen Davis, Betty Comden, Adolph Green

Main cast: Shirley MacLaine, Dick Van Dyke, Dean Martin, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Robert Cummings

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I suspected this after watching films like Sunset Blvd., Sabrina and Some Like It Hot, but The Apartment has confirmed it for me – Billy Wilder was a blooming’ genius!  Here, Jack Lemmon plays C.C. Baxter, a mild-mannered bachelor, who lets the married executives at the insurance company where he works, use his apartment for their extra-marital trysts, in the hope that they will help him gain a promotion.  However, things get complicated when he falls for Fran (Shirley MacLaine) the girlfriend of one of his boss Mr Sheldrake (Fred MacMurray).  The film blends drama, romance and comedy.

Jack Lemmon is just superb in this film – he always seems able to create such vulnerable and sweet characters, and has such a wonderfully expressive face, which means that roles like this suit him completely.  I loved his interaction with Shirley MacLaine, who was also wonderful.  As we saw the pain that both characters go through – C.C. when realising that Fran is involved with his boss, and Fran’s heartbreak at being the ‘other woman’, the sadness is almost palpable.  Fred MacMurray was fine as said boss, although completely unlikeable (which was exactly the way he was meant to be).

There were some funny moments, and a lot of poignant moments with people not being able to say what they so desperately want to say, and Baxter being forced to make himself look like a heel in front of his neighbours, and certainly there were scenes which made me cry.  The ending though was perfect – although I’m not giving anything away…if you haven’t seen this film, you should, and you ought not to know what is going to happen! This is a grown-up love story, far from being a fairytale romance.  It has cynicism, sadness, anger, laughter, hope and revelation, and is quite simply a must-see film.

Year of release: 1960

Director: Billy Wilder

Producers: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond, Doane Harrison

Writers: Billy Wilder, I.A.L. Diamond

Main cast: Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, Fred MacMurray, Ray Walston, Jack Kruschen

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A television network decides to reunite the three female stars of a 60s movie, for a special programme.  However, problems arise almost immediately due to the fact that the three women can’t stand the sight of each other.  When they do all agree to the reunion, things certainly don’t get any easier….

Starring Debbie Reynolds, Shirley MacLaine and Joan Collins as respectively, Piper Grayson, Kate Westbourne and Addie Holden, this film is a hoot.  The three actresses send themselves up beautifully, and I hope that they had as much fun making this film as I did watching it!  Hollywood legend Elizabeth Taylor also puts in an appearance as Beryl Mason, agent for all three women, but her role is very small, which is something of a shame, as she seemed to be sending herself up as much as the others.

The first scene where Beryl and Piper meet is very funny in itself, but even funnier if you know the real life background of these two actresses.  There was a huge scandal in the 1950s, when Reynolds’ husband Eddie Fisher, ran off with her friend Liz Taylor, who subsequently married him.  This film is in fact the first time that the two women have appeared on screen together since then.  And in the scene, Beryl apologises to Piper for running off with Piper’s husband ‘Freddie Hunter’ (which was CLEARLY a reference to Eddie Fisher!)  Piper soothes Beryl and says that she forgave her years earlier, before the two women pull ‘Freddie’ to pieces!

However, the rest of the film also has several delights.  The catfights between the women are so funny, and Jonathan Silverman, as Kate’s adopted son, who is supposed to be directing the whole reunion, has a rare old time trying to keep things together without one or other of them storming off.  Add to the mix a prison escapee, and a big secret in Kate’s past, and the stage is set for lots of laughter.

(Bit of trivia: This film was co-written and co-produced by Carrie Fisher, who is the real-life daughter of Debbie Reynolds, the former step-daughter of Elizabeth Taylor, and who played the daughter of a character played by Shirley MacLaine in Postcards from the Edge.)

Admittedly a lot of the enjoyment in this film is the sheer novelty value of seeing four legends on screen at the same time, but it is actually a very clever and funny film in its own right.  Definitely one to watch if you get chance.

Year of release: 2001

Director: Matthew Diamond

Producers: Ilene Amy Berg, Carrie Fisher, Laurence Mark, Elaine Pope, Lewis Abel, John D. McNamara, Deborah Edell Underwood, Sally Young

Writers: Carrie Fisher, Elaine Pope

Main cast: Shirley MacLaine, Debbie Reynolds, Joan Collins, Elizabeth Taylor, Jonathan Silverman, Nestor Carbonell

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In this 1960 musical, Shirley MacLaine plays Simone Pistache, the owner of a small cafe in Paris in the late 1890s.  She allows the saucy but illegall Can-Can dance to be performed in her establishment (and indeed, is one of the dancers), and winds up in court.  Frank Sinatra plays her lawyer and caddish boyfriend Francois (yes, Sinatra plays a French lawyer – albeit with an American accent!), who doesn’t like it when the new Judge Philip Forrestier (played by Louis Jourdan) falls for her.  Complications ensue…but who will Simone choose…..?

I loved this film – except for one thing…the ending.  I would have given it 10 out of 10, but the ending stopped me from doing so.  I won’t reveal what happens, but after reading a few reviews of the film, it appears that several other viewers felt the same way.

However, on the plus side – Louis Jourdan looked amazing and played a great part; Shirley MacLaine defied all my expectations as Simone – she looked stunning, danced beautifully and gave a really very funny turn indeed, and in fact was the best thing about a very enjoyable movie.  Sinatra on the other hand, seemed to be walking through his lines; he had some lovely songs, and of course he has that voice, but his acting skills really weren’t up to much (he could certainly turn in a good performance when he felt like it, such as in The Manchurian Candidate and From Here To Eternity), although it didn’t detract from the film overall.

I loved the dancing – the Can-Can itself hardly actually features in the film, but when we do see it, it’s a great dance.  Also excellent was a ballet about the story of Adam and Eve, which features towards the end of the film, and which really is a visual treat.  There were also plenty of genuinely funny moments, and a soundtrack which was chock-full of great music.  Cole Porter wrote much of the music, and while it may not have been his best or most memorable stuff, it is still a joy to listen to.

Overall then, definitely worth watching (and a pleasant surprise), but oh, that ending; the only weak spot in an otherwise lovely film.

Year of release: 1960

Director: Walter Lang

Writers: Dorothy Kingsley, Charles Lederer, Abe Burrows

Main cast: Frank Sinatra, Shirley MacLaine, Louis Jourdan, Maurice Chevalier

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