Review and Recap of Move Over, Darling

As I mentioned briefly about in a previous blog post, this movie was a second attempt at a production, as the first attempt was troubled, and it ultimately failed and was forced by a variety of circumstances to shut down.  Twentieth Century Fox wanted to make a remake of 1940 comedy My Favorite Wife called Something’s Got to Give. Marilyn MonroeDean Martin, and Cyd Charisse were to take the roles that were originally played by Irene Dunne Cary Grant,  and Gail Patrick.  However, filming was troubled due to Monroe’s frequent absences.  Monroe was fired from the film, but she was rehired because Martin refused to do the film without her.  However, she died before filming could resume.

Since Fox had already put a lot of money into the film, which was over budget, the decision was made to start over form scratch.  There was a new director, Michael Gordon, who replaced Jean Negulesco, who originally replaced George Cukor.  The new leads were Doris Day, James Garner, and Polly Bergen, taking over from Monroe, Martin, and Charisse.  The new title was Move Over, Darling.

Nick Arden is a lawyer whose wife Ellen Wagstaff Arden was lost at sea following an airplane crash in the Pacific.  It’s been five years since her disappearance, and Nick is in court.  He petitions a judge to have her declared legally dead; the judge is quite absent-minded, but grants the petition.  Immediately afterwards, Nick asks the judge to marry him and his fiancee, Bianca Steele, much to the judge’s surprise.

At the same time, Ellen returns to America.  A Navy submarine ship found her on a deserted island and rescued her.  Ellen wants nothing more than to call her family and let them know that she is alive and well, but when she is unable to make a call, she instead accepts a ride home.

Ellen gets home and she sees her two daughters who were only babies when she disappeared.  They don’t remember her, and Ellen does not tell them who she is.  Ellen later goes inside the house and shocks her mother-in-law Grace.  After Grace gets over the shock, she reluctantly tells Ellen that Nick has gotten re-married; Ellen is devastated by this news, but since he is on his way to Monterey, California, to the same hotel where he and Ellen had their honeymoon, she and Grace realizes that it’s not too late.

Ellen flies to Monterey.  Shortly  after she arrives, Nick and Bianca check into the hotel; the clerk offers him Suite A, but Nick and he insists upon any suite other than the suite where he and Ellen spent their honeymoon, and they are given Suite B.  As he and Bianca get into the elevator, he sees Ellen in the lobby, and he is quite shocked.  Nick makes an excuse to leave Bianca in their hotel room, he finds Ellen, and they embrace each other.  Ellen expresses disappointment with Nick, but he defends himself saying that they couldn’t search for her forever, and he tells her that they held a beautiful memorial service for her.  This touches Ellen’s heart, but she still insists that Nick tell Bianca about her.  Nick checks Ellen into the same suite where they had their honeymoon, which happens to be  next door to the suite Nick got with Bianca.

Nick tries to tell Bianca the truth about Ellen, all while Bianca is trying to consummate their marriage, but there are a variety of complications, including Bianca thinking Nick is rejecting her and acting hysterically.  Ellen loses her patience, and returns home.  Nick fakes a back injury so that he and Bianca will be forced to return home.  Back at home, Grace suggests that she tuck in her daughters into bed.  Ellen still does not tell them that she is their mother, but she sings them a song that she sang for them when they were very young.  They remember it, but they don’t remember where they heard it from.

The next day while the girls are at school, Nick and Bianca return home to see Ellen who is posing as a Swedish nurse.  After Ellen “miraculously” cures Nick’s “broken” back, she offers to give Bianca a massage, but the massage breaks out into a physical altercation, that Nick breaks up only to be distracted by the door bell ringing.

An insurance adjuster comes by, and he mentions in passing that Ellen was stranded on the island with a man named Stephen Burkett, and that they called each other Adam and Eve.  Nick is immediately jealous, and when he tells Ellen that he knows about Stephen, she tries to convince him that nothing happened, but he still refuses to believe her.  Ellen decides to go to a department store where she finds a meek and plain-looking man, and she asks him to pose at Stephen.  At the same time, Nick finds Stephen, a very attractive man, swimming a local hotel’s swimming pool and flirting with women.

Ellen introduces Nick to the fake Stephen; Nick asks them questions about their time on the island, and the fake Stephen states that they spent practically no time together.   After that, Nick and Ellen go out to lunch.  Nick suggests going to a hotel for lunch, knowing that the real Stephen is there.  Ellen confesses that she lied to Nick about the fake Stephen.  Nick starts to feel guilty about his plan to expose Ellen’s lies, and he insists they leave immediately.  Stephen then approaches them.  Angry at Nick’s deception, Ellen leaves and a wacky car chase ensues.

Back at home, Nick and Ellen are bickering when the police come.  They arrest Nick for bigamy.  Grace had called the police since he refused to settle the dispute on his own.  In court, Ellen is declared legally alive, Bianca and Nick’s marriage is annulled, and Ellen decides to sever all ties with Nick.  Stephen shows up in court proclaiming his love for Ellen, but Ellen attacks him, stating that he did nothing but harass her during the five years they spent on the island, and that she tried to spend the past five years staying away from him.

Back at home, Ellen is feeling dejected about the entire ordeal, but she is greeted by her daughters in the swimming pool, who call her “Mom.”  Nick is also swimming, and he invites her to join them.  Despite being fully clothed, Ellen enthusiastically jumps into the pool, embracing Nick and fully reuniting with her family.

I’ve been obsessed with this movie since last fall, though I saw it maybe in 2013.  It’s the just the dilemma.  You lose your spouse at sea.  You find love with somebody else.  You declare your spouse legally dead so that you can get re-married.  Then your spouse is is rescued and returns home.  What do you do?  This theme is so timely that this movie could be perfect for a remake today in 2015.

Another appealing thing to me is the theme of “coming back to life” (so to speak) and having a second chance with with your family who previously thought you were dead.  It has to be extremely hard to be away from your family for five years, to miss seeing your children grow up, and so on.  Also, it must be hard on your family to lose their loved one, and to not even be able to give them a proper burial, and to be a child who lost their parent as a baby, and who has to grow up never knowing their mother.

Despite these themes and the entertaining factor of the movie, there are some plot holes.   When Ellen returns to her home, and she sees her two daughters in the swimming pool, they, at the time of her disappearance, were babies, and they were too young to remember her.  Ellen greets her daughters, but they don’t recognize her.  I can’t believe that.  I mean, the only way this would be possible is if Nick had removed all photos of Ellen in their home, and never showed them to their two daughters.  It seems selfish for a father to never show his daughters any  photos of their presumably deceased mother.  Even if they don’t remember her, they could still feel the pain of the fact that (as far as they knew) their mother was dead, and that they would never know her.  Then again, the beginning shows Nick to be somewhat insensitive, in that he had Ellen declared legally dead, and married Bianca immediately afterwards; the judge was right to be shocked that a man would have his first wife declared legally dead and without waiting at all, marry his second wife.  Also, when Ellen poses as Helga, the Swedish nurse, Bianca does not recognize her either.  So, we are expected to believe that Nick removed all photos of Ellen, and never showed his new wife photos of his first wife whom he lost?

Despite these plot holes, I enjoy the film simply because of its humor and the themes it addresses.

Introduction Speech of a Famous Person: Marilyn Monroe

This was written for my Advanced Public Speaking class.  We had to introduce a famous person.  This assignment assumed that the person was still alive, and that the subject would be speaking publicly.

  1. Introduction
  1. Today, I will introduce one of the most influential people of the twentieth century.
  2. She is known for being one of the leading sex symbols of her day
  3. Yet, she also wished to be known as more than a pretty face, but a serious, talented actress.
  4. That person is Marilyn Monroe.
  1. Body
  1. Monroe was born in Los Angeles in 1926 (Doll, 2007).
    1. She did not have a stable, happy childhood.
    2. Her mother was mentally unwell.
    3. Her father never acknowledged her as his own daughter.
    4. Her mother became unfit to raise her, and so Monroe was often in foster care, or cared for by friends of the family.
    5. At age sixteen, she got married, and soon after that she began a modeling career as a result of her work in a parachute factory during World War II but after she began her modeling career, she got a divorce, and turn her efforts to to becoming actress.
    6. Years of hard work paid off, and Monroe was signed to 20th Century Fox.
  2. Monroe became a huge star with 20th Century Fox, with much emphasis on her sexy image (Doll, 2007).
    1. Some of her hit films included Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, How to Marry a Millionaire, and The Seven Year Itch.
    2. However, Monroe did not feel happy about the roles she was given, and she sought more challenging work, not wanting to play shallow, sexy dumb blonde characters.
    3. She moved from Hollywood to New York City and studied at the Actors’ Studio to learn how to become a serious dramatic actress.
    4. She also established her own production company, Marilyn Monroe Productions.
    5. Following the success of The Seven Year Itch, she signed a new contract with Twentieth Century Fox, granting her creative control over the films she appeared in.
    6. Following her appearance in the film Bus Stop, Monroe proved that she was serious dramatic actress with considerable depth.
    7. From then on, Marilyn Monroe was viewed as not only a sex symbol, but as self-sufficient and intelligent woman who was very good at her field.
  1. Conclusion
  1. To conclude, it is clear that Marilyn Monroe is more than a pretty face.
  2. She is a woman who knows what she wants out of her career, and she showed that she has the talent and skill to make it happen.

 

References

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s Early Life – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-early-life.htm

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe’s First Movie Role – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-early-career.htm

 

Doll, S. (2007, August 29). Marilyn Monroe in ‘How to Marry a Millionaire’ – HowStuffWorks. Retrieved February 9, 2015, from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/marilyn-monroe-later-career.htm

 

Review and Recap of the Documentary, Marilyn: The Final Days and the Film, Something’s Got to Give

Multiple times on YouTube, I have watched and re-watched the documentary Marilyn: The Finals Days.  It focused on the final days in the life of iconic actress, Marilyn Monroe, and they were as tumultuous as many of the other moments in her life.

Monroe signed on the do the film Something’s Got to Give for 20th Century Fox.  It was directed by George Cukor, and it co-starred Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse.  The plot of the film was as follows: Ellen Arden has been lost as sea for five years.  Her husband, Nick Arden, has her declared legally dead, and he marries his second wife Bianca Steele Arden.  The same day, Ellen is rescued and returns home.  This leads to complications as Nick must tell Bianca the truth of Ellen’s rescue, but he becomes jealous when he learns that Ellen was stranded on an island with a man.

The production of the film was very troubled.  Cukor was reluctant to work with Monroe after her unreliable behavior on the set of Let’s Make Love.  In fact, Monroe was very difficult to work with.  Nearly every film she did was over budget and behind schedule.  She often was absent and late on the set due to mental conditions, physical aliments, emotional issues, among other struggles.  And Fox had even bigger worries, their film Cleopatra was even more behind schedule and even more over budget.  Something’s Got to Give was intended to be released by October 1962 so as to help raise desperately needed money for the studio.

In addition to the the studio’s financial woes and Monroe’s reputation for unreliability, the film had no finished script, and constant re-writes put the film over budget before any footage had been shot.

Filming was scheduled to begin on April 16, 1962, but Cukor chose to delay filming by a week to April 23, 1926, and Monroe traveled from Los Angeles to New York City, to go over her role with the help of acting coaches Lee and Paula Strasberg at The Actors Studio; Monroe had been studying there and with the Strasbergs for several years in order to improve her acting skills, so that she could show the world that she is more than just a dumb blonde sex object.  When she returned, Monroe became ill; she had caught a cold from Paula, which developed into something far worse.

On the day filming was to begin, Monroe called in sick, and the studio doctor said that she has sinusitis; it was recommended that filming be delayed by one month so that Monroe could fully recover, but the studio refused.  Cukor re-organized the schedule to shoot scenes without Monroe.

Monroe reported for work for the first time on April 30, 1962.

Monroe was frequently absent from work because of her illnesses which included sinusitis, bronchitis, fevers, and headaches.  This pushed the film behind scheduled and even more over budget. but soon, the cast and crew were getting tired of her.   Many felt that she was not really sick at all.  They so no evidence of her being unwell.  The film fell ten days behind schedule. When time came for her to sing at President John F. Kennedy’s birthday gala in New York, the studio did not want her to go although she had been given permission to attend before filming started.

Monroe went anyway, and this was an iconic moment in her life, when she sang “Happy Birthday, Mr. President.”

Fox was furious.  But Monroe attended work regularly during  the next several days.  And she filmed her iconic nude scene which helped give the film more publicity, and it put the her back in the studio’s good graces.

On June 1, 1962, Monroe turned 36.  The crew wanted to celebrate as soon as she arrived on set, but Cukor insisted that they wait until the end of the working day.  After a simple celebration, Monroe attended a Muscular Dystrophy benefit at Dodger Stadium.

The following Monday, Monroe called in sick yet again.  The cold weather on the night of the benefit caused her to get a fever.  Fox had enough.  They fired her for breach of contract.  All of the cast and crew were suspended.

There were plans to replace Monroe, but Martin refused to do the film without Monroe.  Monroe and Fox came to a new deal.  Monroe would be paid one million dollars to do two films for Fox, and Fox agreed to replace Cukor with Jean Negulesco whom she had worked with on How to Marry a Millionaire  Monroe also agreed to not have her acting coach, Paula Strasberg on the set.  Strasberg was unpopular because many of Monroe’s directors felt that they had less control over Monroe than Strasberg did.  The contract was signed on August 1, 1962.  The film was to resume production in October.

On August 5, 1962, Monroe was found dead of an overdose.  The film was shut down.

The documentary then mentioned Monroe’s unforgettable legacy, and the impact she has had on countless people since her death.

(It is mentioned that eventually Fox, started over from scratch and remade the film as Move Over, Darling, starring, Doris Day, James Garner, and Polly Bergen.)

What I found fascinating about the documentary was the struggles that were depicted.  The struggles that Monroe had personally, and the struggles of the studio were very clear discussed.  There were numerous talking head interviews from several people who knew Monroe, such as Cyd Chrassise, producer Henry T. Weinstein, the Strasbergs’ daughter Susan Strasberg, Monroe’s internist, Dr. Hyman Engelberg, among others, who gave their own insight about Monroe and the film’s troubled production.   And there was plenty of archival footage and photographs

The next part of the documentary is a reconstruction of Something’s Got to Give.  Most of the footage was unseen for many decades until for the documentary, it was restored and edited into a 37-minute segment, which served to give people an example of what it may have looked like, had it been released as planned.

It’s hard to review the film.  On the one hand, it feels unfair to criticize a movie that was never finished.  However, with all things being considered, it was not very bad.  With what few scenes were completed and edited together, it seems very interesting.  There are funny moments.  And despite there being many gaps in the narrative, everything is coherent, and it ends with a resolution of a kind.

The documentary can be seen here, with the film immediately following:

The film can bee seen by itself here:

And you can see some raw-unedited footage here.

 

TV Tropes: Troubled Production

Today, I will talk more about TV Tropes.  Specifically I will discuss an entry on their site called Troubled Production.  This refers to a production that is troubled.  As is common in such film shoots, things can go wrong.  Cast and crew can get sick.  Weather can disrupt filming.  Props can malfunction.  Films can fall behind schedule.

I had issues of my own when I shot my first film for my digital filmmaking class last semester.

First, I had trouble finding actresses.  Then I had trouble finding a location.

When I finally had those two things, I had trouble with with availability and weather.

My cousin who played one of the roles, had to cancel on the originally scheduled filming date because she had a school assignment to work on.  Two days later, we planned shoot but then there was a huge storm that affected much of the state of Illinois.  My cousin had returned home early from getting her hair done because of the weather, and when she returned to get her hair done, she had to cancel because she could not guarantee when she would be finished.  Finally, we rescheduled filming for two days later.  My cousin arrived at my college to film, and we  got to work.  Then I realized that I made a mistake.  I did not turn the microphone on the camera and I had no sound.  Luckily, my other actress, who was a classmate in my filmmaking class told us that the dialogue could be rerecorded and then I could re-sync it when editing it on the computer.

When time came to edit, however, I still had issues because I did not have much time to work on it; I could only edit it at school since only at school did I have access to Macs with Final Cut Pro, or any type of good film-editing software.  I tried to finish the editing on the day of the screening of all of our films, but I could not.  First, the computer on which I saved the files was used by another student (the classmate who appeared in my short film as the mother and aunt) and when I had time, I struggled with re-syncing the audio and realized that I had to do it line-by-line.  I ended sending my professor an incomplete version that was missing audio in two of the three scenes.  He did not show it at the screening because he could not download the file in time.  I was relieved because in my mind, I was scared of him showing it and being humiliated by it; even if it had been complete, I would have not been in the room while it was being shown because I feel it was a sloppy job, and I am committed to doing better next time.  It was my first film, after all, and not many people’s early works are their best, anyway.

Later on the last day of the semester, I finally had the time to finish the editing of the video and audio, and I submitted the project to my professor.  The people who saw it like it, though I really don’t.  But, I value the whole experience, and I can’t wait to do it again.

Of course, I am an amateur, and professionals often have even bigger issues when things go wrong.

TV Tropes has many examples, but one noteworthy one they don’t mention is the film Something’s Got to Give, directed by George Cukor and starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin for 20th Century Fox.  The troubles were so bad, that they indirectly caused the film to be abandoned.

First, on the day that filming was to begin, April 23, 1962, Monroe didn’t show up because of a sinus infection.  Cukor changed the shooting schedule to work around her since waiting for her recovery would have delaying the entire film for a month, had she followed a doctor’s orders.

Throughout the next couple of months, Monroe was frequently absent because of various health problems.  On May 19, she was scheduled to perform for President Kennedy at his birthday party; no one thought she would keep that commitment, but she did, and that was yet another iconic moment in her life.

In early June, shortly after Monroe’s birthday, she missed yet another day of filming because of a fever.  Cukor and Fox were fed up, and the studio fired her.

However, Dean Martin, was contractually given the right to approve his leading lady.  He refused to do the film without Monroe.  Fox agreed to rehire her, but compromises were made on both sides.  Monroe had to do two films for Fox including Something’s Got to Give, and Monroe insisted that Cukor be replaces as director; Fox also offered more money than she originally was offered.

However, in August of 1962, Monroe was found dead in her home.  The movie was shelved, but later it was overhauled and filmed as Move Over, Darling with Doris Day and James Garner as the leads and released in December 1963.

According to Wikipedia: “In April 1963, Fox released the 83-minute documentary Marilyn which included brief clips from the screen-tests and unfinished film showing Monroe. This was the only footage from the film seen by the public until the hour-long 1990 documentary Marilyn: Something’s Got To Give, which used extensive excerpts from the footage…Nine hours of largely unseen footage from the film remained in the vaults at 20th Century Fox until 1999, when it was digitally restored by Prometheus Entertainment and assembled into a 37-minute segment for the two-hour documentary, Marilyn: The Final Days. It first aired on American Movie Classics on June 1, 2001, which would have been Monroe’s 75th birthday.[5][6] It is available on DVD.”

Another noteworthy case is that of Judy Garland.  Her drug addictions contributed to her being fired from several films and having trouble with others.

First, she suffered a breakdown while filming The Pirate and she was committed, but finished the film.  Later, while filming The Barkleys of Broadway, in 1948 migraine headaches, and the use of morphine and sleeping  led to her missing several filming days; she was fired from the film after doctors said she was only healthy enough to shoot for 4-5 days at a time with extended rest periods in between ans was replaced by Ginger Rogers.  She was, a year later, cast in the film version of Annie Get Your Gun, but Garland suffered with insecurity with the role and did not like director Busby Berkeley’s treatment towards her on set; as a result she was frequently tardy, and failed to show up.  Eventually, she was fired from the film and replaced by Betty Hutton.   Later, she appeared in Summer Stock,  and she missed the “Heavenly Music” number; she did not show up the day it was filmed, and therefore, it was shot without her.  She took a break from the film for two months and returned to shoot the famous “Get Happy” number; as a piece of trivia, Garland lost weight in the interim, and as a result there is the myth that it was originally filmed for a different film because she was noticeably thinner than in the rest of the film.  Finally she was cast in Royal Wedding, replacing June Allyson who dropped out of the film after becoming pregnant; however once again, frequent absences led to her being fired from the film, replaced (by Jane Powell) and she was released from her MGM contract in 1950.  Seventeen years later, Garland was cast as Helen Lawson in Valley of the Dolls.  She was unreliable on the set, missing several rehearsals, and was fired and replaced by Susan Hayward.  Her wardrobe tests and her recording of the song “I’ll Plant My Own Tree” survived.