Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1963. Melcher-Arcola Productions. Screenplay by Hal Kanter, Jack Sher, based on a story by Bella Spewack, Sam Spewack, Leo McCarey, and a screenplay by Bella Spewack, Sam Spewack. Cinematography by Daniel L. Fapp. Produced by Martin Melcher, Aaron Rosenberg. Music by Lionel Newman. Production Design by Hilyard M. Brown, Jack Martin Smith. Costume Design by Moss Mabry. Film Editing by Robert L. Simpson. Golden Globe Awards 1963.
Production on Something’s Gotta Give was well under way when its star Marilyn Monroe overdosed and died in early 1962, halting production of the one film Twentieth Century-Fox was keeping running on their Hollywood backlot during a financially dire time for them (Cleopatra was draining all their funds during its years-long shoot in Rome). The studio eventually got back up on its feet and reconfigured the project, a remake of My Favourite Wife, as a Doris Day comedy under a new title. She plays a happy housewife who was lost at sea after her plane was forced to make an emergency landing, surviving on an island for five years before finally being returned to the arms of her loving husband (James Garner). She arrives on the day that he has just married another woman (Polly Bergen), while he becomes incensed when he finds out that her company on the island was hunky Chuck Connors. The sly wit of the original has been replaced with jokes that can’t be told without a big wink, and it’s ridiculous to note just how conventional the scrappy behaviour is between a man and woman who genuinely believed they would never see each other again. It’s also candy-coloured fun, self-referentially wry (Day actually talks about watching My Favourite Wife to another character) and buoyed by Day’s superb ability to bring the right flavor and energy to this style of storytelling.