What a Way to Go brief review

Discussion in 'DVD' started by andrew markworthy, Jan 6, 2005.

  1. andrew markworthy

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    Not the greatest movie of the sixties, but there is a nice new DVD release of it out in a few days time (I was lucky enough to get my copy early).

    The plot is on a par with other daffy comedies of the sixties. It starts with a woman (Shirley McLaine) in widow's weeds walking into the IRS building in Washington and attempting to hand over a cheque (sorry, check) for a hundred or so million dollars. When it becomes clear it's her money to give away, they send her to a psychiatrist and much of the rest of the film is her life story told to the shrink in a series of flashback episodes.

    I'm not giving anything away by telling that the rest of the movie is about a succession of marriages all ending in the death of her successive husbands. This is a black comedy, but generally the film remains in surpsingly good taste (though the ending of the Robert Mitchum character is one that may require a little too much explaining to young children). Anyway, back to the plot. The 'problem' is that she marries each husband when they are relatively poor - they then become incredibly rich before dying. Since at heart the heroine just wants to remain poor but happy and embrace the simple life of Thoreau, this is somewhat inconvenient, and she convinces herself that she places a jinx of 'get rich then die' on anyone she loves. This paves the way for the ending, which is as silly as anything else in the movie.

    Okay, so why watch it at all? First, because there are some reasonable pieces of dialogue and some effective pastiches of different film styles (life with each husband contains a section in which various film genres are parodied - the French speaking section in one of these in which the subtitles hilariously don't match up with the actual French dialogue is particularly good). Second, because each husband is played by a big name (Dick van Dyke, Paul Newman, Robert Mutchum, Gene Kelly) and most of them take an obvious delight in hamming it up (plus Mr Kelly gets to perform a typically sublime dance routine). Third, there is Ms McLean. For those who only know her from her later movies playing mad old women, this film will be a revelation, particularly given the pleasingly large range of very skimpy lingerie and swimwear she gets to wear.

    The DVD is in the bargain basement price range (at least from the UK supplier I used). It has reasonable picture quality. Not demonstration standard, but far worse has been dropped on an unsuspecting public, and for the price it's a lot better than might be expected. The sound has a choice of original mono or stereo. Again, it's fine, but not demonstration quality. Extras are a couple of trailers (with a narration that probably seemed wordly-wise and witty at the time but forty years on is embarrassingly sexist and crass) and a couple of brief newsreel clips about the premiere of the movie and the auditions for a painting chimpanzee (who appears alongside Paul Newman).

    So there you have it - a young Shirley McLaine in a variety of skimpy clothing and Paul Newman acting with a painting chimp. What more can you want from a bargain price DVD?

    Recommended if you have a soft spot for frivolous sixties comedies.
     
  2. DeeF

    DeeF Screenwriter

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    Widescreen? Anamorphic?
     
  3. Brent Avery

    Brent Avery Supporting Actor

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    I looked on the back cover and the dvd is listed as Anamorphic ( 2:35 ) and a mono soundtrack. Another film that might be worth checking out is Ride The Wild Surf ( Columbia Tristar ) starring Fabian, Shelly Fabares,Tab Hunter,& Barbara Eden. Made in '64 and filmed in Hawaii it has music by Jan and Dean in it as well. OAR is 1:85 and it is enhanced. Just picked it up and will watch it this weekend.
     
  4. Jodee

    Jodee Screenwriter

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    This has been a favorite movie of mine since I was a child and first saw it on TV. It was NEVER released on VHS and it is a title I never thought I'd see get a DVD release. I can't wait for my copy to arrive!
     
  5. GerardoHP

    GerardoHP Supporting Actor

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    and that was good enough for me.

    I'm glad this is coming out on DVD. Although the sets are kind of cheap looking, MacLaine's costume changes are phenomenal and the movie as a whole is a lot of fun.

    I once heard this picture was originally intended for Marilyn Monroe.
     
  6. andrew markworthy

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    It's anamorphic widescreen (some sites have it listed as fullscreen, but unless my set has suddenly become brilliant at reformatting academy ratio it's definitely widescreen).

    You have the choice of mono or stereo.
     

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