Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5.
USA, 1962. Paramount Pictures, Sachiko. Story and Screenplay by Norman Krasna. Cinematography by Shunichiro Nakao. Produced by Steve Parker. Music by Franz Waxman. Production Design by Makoto Kikuchi, Arthur Lonergan, Hal Pereira. Costume Design by Edith Head. Film Editing by Archie Marshek.
Shirley MacLaine plays the wife of a famous director (Yves Montand) who flies to Japan for a surprise visit after he has spent time there preparing for his new production of Madame Butterfly. After years of making films with his wife, Montand has decided to venture out on a project of his own that doesn’t include her, and she can’t help but feel a little miffed. When she arrives to meet him, MacLaine dresses up as a Japanese geisha in order to play a practical joke on him, but when he is completely fooled and doesn’t realize that it is her, she goes one step further and auditions for the film. Naturally, she gets the part, so now our heroine must film an entire movie while keeping a safe distance from her husband in order that he doesn’t find out who she really is. The last scene is a bit of a let-down, given that it plays too easily into the gender politics of its time (male ego is more important than nature itself), but the rest of the time you’ll be having a ball. MacLaine is positively a superstar here, and she is ably supported by the wonderful performances by Edward G. Robinson and a hilarious Robert Cummings.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Costume Design-Colour