Thursday, April 21, 2011

Shirley MacLaine in What a Way to Go! 1964

Obscurity factor: 2

Yesterday, when I wrote about Penelope (1966), it reminded me of this film. It's a strange film for this blog because it is both obscure and notorious at the same time. It is, in my opinion, such a bad film it's almost unwatchable, however it's also got so many stellar actors in it, and the production values are so high that the colossal failure of it is truly fascinating. Shirley MacLaine plays Louisa May Foster - a woman who has a curious effect on men. She falls in love with them, marries them and they become instantly successful beyond their wildest dreams, then drop dead.

The men in Louisa's life are played by Dick Van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Gene Kelly, Bob Cummings and Dean Martin. Her wardrobe was designed by Edith Head (as was Natalie Wood's in Penelope) and according to the trailer below cost around $500,000 - in 1964! It really is one of the most outrageous films to look at, though much better without the sound, in my opinion. Look for Margaret Dumont in the role of Louisa's mother and scan the dancers in the shipboard number for Teri Garr.

This film is available on DVD. It was released in 2005 and it has quite a cult following with lots of reviews on Amazon. The trailer above is uploaded to YouTube by nerdletta. The fabulous poster above is from the Polish release and is available at

Obscurity factor: 2 (available on DVD, has a big cult following, unknown generally to anyone who didn't live through the marketing campaign)


  1. I saw this movie about 30 years ago when it was on one of the local channels at 11:30 at night. I absolutely loved it! However, I have not seen it since then. It would be interesting to see what my opinion of it would be now.

    I recall reading a comment by Shirley about the movie. She said when they were filming it that everyone involved was certain that it was going to be an enormous hit. She added that at the same time another movie called "The Sound of Music" was also being filmed at 20th Century Fox...

    This movie was supposedly originally conceived with Marilyn Monroe in mind. If so, it is one of at least four movies that 20th Century Fox intended for her to star in. The other three are "Something's Got to Give," which of course was reworked as "Move Over, Darling" with Doris Day. The other two are "The Stripper," which starred Joanne Woodward, and "Goodbye, Charlie," which starred Debbie Reynolds. Have you heard of any others?

  2. Interesting that it was going to be a Marylin vehicle. That would have made it a very different film. It might have worked better...

    "Goodbye Charlie" was remade in 1991 as "Switch" with Ellen Barkin and Jimmy Smits.

  3. I have only seen a bit of "Goodbye, Charlie." It was a never-ending scene in a beach house with Debbie and Tony Curtis. I know it has a horrible reputation. However, I don't think Debbie ever looked better.

  4. She does look great, and it is rather unwatchable...

  5. This, coming from someone who defended A Matter of Time, he he he. In any case, WWTG is representative of a certain overblown undernourished 60s extravaganza style, a whole slew of stinkers like The Yellow Rolls Royce, Irma La Douce, Lady L, The Madwoman of Chaillot... They all put on European airs, yet they are as European as French dressing. Not classics, not cult, and only tangentially obscure.

  6. Yes, I have to admit, it is incongruous that I disparage this and defend A Matter of Time - though the style is very different - this one is irredeemably silly, where that one is heartfelt, though misguided.