What a Way to Go 1966

what a way to go shirley maclaine gene kelly

Sometimes I stumble on an old movie I’ve never seen before, and strike gold! What a Way to Go is definitely a gold strike. Starring Shirley MacLaine, who was perfectly cast in a role that could’ve easily gone to someone like Doris Day, and with a slew of leading men I just adore- Paul Newman, Dick Van Dyke, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, and Robert Cummings- this movie couldn’t go wrong. And not just with the cast. The plot is a hilariously bright and fun dark comedy that hits the right spot. A bright dark comedy? I promise, it’s a real thing. And you won’t want to miss it.

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The story begins with a rich lady who is turned away from the IRS headquarters after she tries to write a check for millionaires of dollars, simply as a donation. She is sent to a psychiatrist to be analyzed, and so begins to tell him about her curse.

Louisa May Foster (Shirley MacLaine) was just a simple girl who wanted to marry a simple man. She would have nothing to do with the rich and handsome Leonard Crawley (Dean Martin), because she was more interested in quoting Thoreau and falling in love with a man who had no ambition and would get nowhere in life- Edgar Hopper (Dick Van Dyke). After Edgar promises never to work hard and raise their station in life, they got married and lived an idyllic life in a dingy little cabin by the lake. Until one day, Edgar did’t come home from fishing at the Lake, and Louisa May caught him working at his general store. Edgar worked so hard that they became multi-millionaires, but incidentally, he worked so hard, that it suddenly killed him. So Louisa May was left all alone with millions of dollars she doesn’t want.

After running away to Europe, she meets another poor man and falls in love with him, only to have him become rich and die. This happens to her two more times, until she is scared to ever fall in love again, because she seems to have this awful affect on men- she makes them rich, and then they die.

What a Way to Go 1966 shirley maclaine robert mitchumWhat a Way to Go 1966 shirley maclaineWhat a Way to Go 1966 dean martin

Oh what a fun movie! From the hilariously silly plot to the amazing cast, and let us not forget the set and costumes! Edith Head (of course!) designed Shirley MacLaine’s wardrobe, which varied greatly depending on which husband she had at the moment. She wore all pink while married to Pinky, and wore dramatic gowns painted by her artist husband when she lived in Europe. Each outfit is a treat for the eyes. The homes she lived in were immaculately designed as well, and I particularly loved the scene when a crazed painter covers the entire pool lounge area in pink paint, and proceeds to chase Louisa May with his bucket of pink paint. The humor in the film doesn’t stop at wardrobe and set design, and I love that!

It’s no surprise that What a Way to Go was nominated for two Oscars in 1965- best art direction and best costume design. But it lost out on both of them to another lavish film I love- My Fair Lady. Maybe I never saw it because it was overshadowed by the classic Audrey Hepburn musical? But I’m so glad I finally discovered What a Way to Go! Be sure to check it out- I think you’ll love it! You can rent or buy it on Amazon instant view here.

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16 Responses

  1. Never heard of it!! Sounds so interesting!

  2. Kaylee says:

    This has been a favorite of mine since childhood! Shirley is at her best in this movie, and all the leading men are sooo delish. Love it.

  3. Chloe Moon says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Shirley Mclaine movie when she was younger. I LOVE her older so I have to check this one out! Dean Martin is in it too? Have to have to check it out!! =)

  4. Mia says:

    I LOVE Shirley MacLaine always have

  5. anoushka says:

    i see screencaps of her all in pink on tumblr all the time so thankfully now i know where it’s from! awesome!

  6. Kristian says:

    Oh, this sounds like delightful fun and I’ve never heard of it before either.

  7. Laura says:

    such a good movie! x

  8. Sara Conway says:

    I love this one. The ship musical number is one of the best of all time! If you haven’t yet, you should see All in a Night’s Work (1960) with Shirley and Dean Martin. I don’t think it’s as charming as this one, but it’s one of his best comedies.

  9. I have never heard of this movie, but now I totally want to watch it!
    I love your movie reviews; they always make me want to watch scores of old movies.

  10. Stacie Albrecht says:

    So thrilled to see you feature this movie. I fell in love with this movie when I stumbled across it during my twenties. Her costumes are the best & the plot is so ridiculously cute. This movie, along with Rosalind Russell’s version of Auntie Mame & of course Breakfast at Tiffany’s, ranks as one of my favorites.

  11. OMG., I think I’m in love. I’m going to have to track this down as soon as possible. I adore Shirley MacLaine and Dean Martin. These are some great screen caps. Just looking at them makes me crave a gin and tonic or a martini

  12. Lucero says:

    This was one of my favorite movies as a KID!!!! I love this movie so much. I’m glad you discovered it!
    Much love!

  13. Stephanie says:

    Thanks for the recommendation– it looks right up my alley! I’ll definitely check it out ;o). Just discovered your blog recently, and so glad that I did!

    http://beautifuldaysgoneby.wordpress.com/

    ~Steph

  14. harkin says:

    One of my sister’s favorite films and lots of funny stuff. Shirley Maclaine was never more beautiful.

  15. Miss Mandi, thanks for puttin’ the accent on this film classic, but one of our Dino’s lesser known big screen efforts. Know that your reflections are bein’ shared this day with all the pallies gathered ’round ilovedinomartin.