My Geisha (1962)

JACK CARDIFF

Bil’s rating (out of 5):   BBBB.5

USA, 1962.  Paramount Pictures, Sachiko.  Story and Screenplay by .  Cinematography by .  Produced by .  Music by .  Production Design by , , .  Costume Design by .  Film Editing by .  

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  and a hilarious .

Academy Award Nomination:  Best Costume Design-Colour

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