Stars, Fashion, & No Substance! ‘What a Method to Go!’ 1964


Shirley MacLaine stars as Louisa Might Foster, who marries and loses most of her
 5 husbands in 1964’s comedy, “What a Method to Go!”

One of many many ’60s
all-star spectaculars that was heavy on stars and magnificence, however gentle on stable story
or scintillating dialogue, was 1964’s What
A Method to Go!
Films like this are sometimes enjoyable for star gazing and glamour.
But such movies are sometimes boring and do not age nicely, and right here’s just some: Let’s Make Love, The V.I.P.s, The Yellow
, and What’s New, Pussycat?

Shirley MacLaine’s widow tells shrink Robert Cummings about EVERY husband
in “What a Method to Go!”

This 20th
Century Fox fluff is a comedic story of a girl who’s in search of real love however
is at all times left widowed—and richer. Cash does not purchase happiness, but it surely brings
70-plus Edith Head costumes, Sydney Guilaroff wigs, Harry Winston jewels, and
fabulous units in What a Method to Go!
The featherweight romp additionally options some various husbands: Dick Van Dyke, Paul
Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, & Dean Martin. 

The super-size comedy
was initially meant for celebrity Marilyn Monroe, when Fox determined to take
Marilyn again after One thing’s Bought to
. Marilyn actually might have elevated this gentle car together with her
pure comedic charms. However it was not meant to be, as Marilyn died quickly after.
Persevering with in the identical daft logic, Fox then provided the position to their
different diva headache, Cleopatra aka Elizabeth
Taylor. The a part of a girl who marries 5 instances and turns into richer, with
greater wardrobe and larger hair with every marriage… what a stretch! However ET’s world now revolved round Richard Burton.

Cannot think about why Fox provided this film to Elizabeth Taylor! Truly,
Robert Cummings performs the shrink in “What a Method to Go!,” not a husband…

The good selection of
Shirley MacLaine as Louisa Might Foster was lastly made. Was MacLaine as a
brunette right here a hangover from the prior selection of Liz? Regardless, whereas
Shirley presents a mannequin slim determine that was extra in step with the ’60s
than both curvy MM or ET, MacLaine appears at instances dwarfed by the outlandish
costumes, towering wigs and Christmas tree jewel sparklers.

Naturalistic Shirley MacLaine & ’60s glamour did not appear to go collectively.
Observe the pancake make-up on her face, then her freckled arm in “What a Method to Go!”
With Robert Mitchum as her tycoon husband.

Whereas MacLaine is a
pure comedic actress, a robust director like Billy Wilder was wanted to maintain
her from going from Shirley to shrilly. There’s various screaming Mimi
moments on this broad comedy, however MacLaine additionally will get some laughs. It is
fascinating to see her play the kid Louisa with a wink, with out the ’60s pancake
basis, false eyelashes, stenciled brows, and overdrawn lipstick—although I do detect mascara. 

Shirley MacLaine as little Louisa in an amusing second from “What a Method to Go!” 

Most of Shirley
MacLaine’s co-stars had been outdated friends or lovers, so Shirley has a pleasant rapport with
every “husband” in What a Method to
In a nutshell, so as:

Dick Van Dyke is a
very energetic match for Shirley. As Edgar Hopper, Dick is a small-town man
whose hero is Thoreau. However when his love rival mocks his and spouse Louisa’s
low-budget life-style, Hopper hops to, and turns into an enormous success as a
businessman. And promptly keels over from overwork!

Dick Van Dyke as Shirley MacLaine’s first husband in “What a Method to Go!”

Paul Newman is subsequent
up, because the artist in Paris, the place Louisa goes to grieve. Paul offers one among his
extra relaxed comedic performances, in contrast to the leering Rally Around the Flag Boys and A
New Type of Love
. Amusingly, his character’s identify is Larry Flint, however not that Larry Flynt. Paul appears to be like nice with
a beard, because the ravenous artist who’s at all times consuming! Slim and slight Paul
and Shirley are dwarfed by the lavish contraptions and units of their marital
sequence. As Larry’s portray machines lastly create profitable works, Flint
is consumed by the money rolling in. As he and the machines change into extra frenzied,
they activate their creator.

Shirley MacLaine’s Louisa appears to adapt to every husband’s life.
Right here, she is Paul Newman’s artist spouse in “What a Method to Go!”

Subsequent, widowed once more
Louisa meets Robert Mitchum as a Howard Hughes-type tycoon, Rod Anderson, Jr., at
the airport (keep in mind Hughes as soon as owned an airline). MacLaine’s unfortunate in love
woman figures this newest love is already wealthy, so what can occur? Paradoxically,
their try at dwelling easy down on his farm seems to be a kick within the
head for Rod. Mitchum is laid-back and droll, as at all times.

I by no means miss a Nina Foch film! Kidding! Shirley MacLaine goes platinum for a
scorching minute in “What a Method to Go!” With hubby #3 Robert Mitchum.

Shirley’s perennial
widow meets Pinky Benson at an area diner. Gene Kelly parodies his Singin’ within the Rain persona right here because the
small city entertainer, who lastly makes it huge. Although criticized by some
people as too outdated, Kelly appears to be like fantastic for 50, is kind of humorous, and dances
superbly, in fact. Pinky’s destiny is getting fatally mobbed by his followers!

Shirley MacLaine’s Louisa envisions her marriage to Pinky Benson as a Hollywood musical quantity. Gene Kelly, aptly forged as hubby #4 in “What a Method to Go!”

At this level, as soon as
once more widowed Louisa is telling her woes to her shrink, when an outdated beau walks
in. As soon as her small city’s richest man, the person is now the constructing’s janitor! Dean
Martin performs comedic jerk Leonard Crawley fairly nicely, and his nonchalant
demeanor is ideal right here. Because the one husband that Louise doesn’t initially
love, the creep seems to be the keeper.

Dean Martin bookends “What a Method to Go!” as first a foiled suitor, then as
Shirley MacLaine’s closing husband.

Lastly, there’s Bob
Cummings, his common unctuous self because the smarmy shrink who almost turns into a
husband to Louisa, as nicely.

One shock was Margaret
Dumont, of the Marx Brothers film fame, who’s weird and unfunny as
Shirley’s mom. Plus, Dumont’s dressed like she’s from a visitor shot on The Beverly Hillbillies!

The Edith Head
costumes and the units are supposed to be excessive however typically veer into
superior ugliness. Head cleverly makes use of the garments to additional Louisa’s story, however
I used to be stunned what number of costumes had been visions of monochromatic vivid colours. I
was getting visions of Liz Taylor’s Vincente Minnelli-supervised wardrobe in The Sandpiper. And the Pepto Bismol pink
mansion of Gene Kelly’s Pinky is actually abdomen churning.

Husband Pinky Benson decrees that his mansion be painted in his honor, in
“What a Method to Go!” Wafer slim Shirley MacLaine sports activities a contrasting black bikini.

Broadway’s Adolph
Inexperienced and Betty Comden, the couple that wrote this story, additionally gave us Singin’ within the Rain and Auntie Mame. Sadly, their script and wit
appears very broad and sporadic of their final characteristic movie collectively.

There are few zingy
traces and a lot of the film parodies of every marriage are mildly amusing,
besides the Ross Hunter-esque “Lush Budgett” sequence, which is so
one-note that it shortly turns into tedious. The musical quantity with Gene
Kelly is a good take off on MGM numbers, and nonetheless enjoyable in its personal proper.
Shirley and Dick Van Dyke’s expressive faces and sleek kinds make their
silent film spoof enjoyable. And Paul Newman and Shirley are actually horny sufficient
of their French “artwork” movie parody, although it’s fairly tame.

Shirley MacLaine & Dick Van Dyke are charming within the silent film fantasy scene that symbolizes their marriage in “What a Method to Go!”

The director J. Lee
Thompson was an odd selection for comedy as he beforehand helmed The Weapons of Navarone and Cape Worry. He subsequent directed Shirley in
the 1965 bomb John Goldfarb, Please Come
! Written by William Peter Blatty, who rewarded his friendship with
Shirley by modeling her for his heroine in The
, thus creating the city fable that MacLaine’s daughter wanted an

Shirley MacLaine’s Louisa in wearable artwork, courtesy of artist husband Paul Newman
 in “What a Method to Go!”

Whereas I hardly laughed
out loud throughout your complete film, What a
Method to Go!
is usually amusing. However it all looks like a pile of frosting—on
a cupcake! Shirley MacLaine didn’t carry one other hit film till The Turning Level over a dozen years
later. Even then, Anne Bancroft was pulling equal weight. Frankly, Shirley
by no means carried a film on her personal throughout MacLaine’s main woman heyday.

There are worse methods
to go than watching What a Method to Go!
Watch the celebrities and lavish manufacturing, together with your mind turned off.

Actress Gari Hardy with Paul Newman, in a deleted scene from “What a Method to Go!” Is it my creativeness or is she alleged to resemble Marilyn Monroe? In that case, that appears in unhealthy style as this movie was meant for Monroe, earlier than she died two years earlier.