The Moon Is Blue (1953) Poster

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An Evergreen Period Piece
Ralph Michael Stein10 January 2002
Long before Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks discovered they loved each other atop the Empire State Building, William Holden and Maggie McNamara met on the observation tower of the venerable skyscraper in the film version of the hit Broadway play, "The Moon is Blue." One of the best and most sprightly comedies of the early fifties, Otto Preminger had a fight on his hands when the film went before an aghast Production Code board.

The movie makes rather light of a young woman's commitment to chastity, suggests that seduction is an amusing and acceptable pastime for a single male and uses words like "pregnant" and "virgin" offhandedly. The lovely, talkative, self-assured Patty even demands to know the meaning of the charge, by her new boyfriend's barely ex-girlfriend, that she's a "professional virgin." Shocking stuff and approval was denied. Perhaps equally stunning to the Hollywood censors was Preminger's decision to release the film without approval, something he had the clout to do.

As it turned out, audiences were able to deal with this explosive material. :) And almost fifty years later, when virtually nothing remains to be said or done on the silver screen, this film retains its charm, humor and attractiveness because a superb trio of actors - William Holden, Maggie McNamara and an irrepressible David Niven, who steals some of the scenes - gives a timeless quality to their sterling performances.

The script hews pretty much to the original play with minimal set changes. The dialogue is witty and fast. Preminger knew he had created a gem of a romantic comedy and it's good entertainment today in a world where the values expressed by the characters seem as remote as the social customs of the Neandertals. I hadn't seen the film in decades - I rented it and I'm going to buy a copy. This is a true and timeless classic.

By the way, don't skip the trailer that precedes the film. It's very funny.
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Niven takes renewed laurels
Igenlode Wordsmith11 December 2005
Forget the 'stale sex comedy' label; there's nothing here that's in the least shocking any more. What remains is an enchanting Fifties farce of misunderstandings, as Patty O'Neill -- the girl with a talent for saying exactly what she means and precisely what she should not -- innocently turns the lives of Don Gresham and his upstairs neighbour upside down.

Maggie McNamara is all artless elfin charm as the worldly but naive Patty, and William Holden provides solid support as Don, the architect who makes a pass at a pretty stranger without realising quite what he's letting himself in for. But, frankly, it is David Niven who steals the show, with a performance of endearing shamelessness as David Slater plus an exquisite sense of comic timing. With his appearance on the scene, the film ceases to be a simple screwball romance and becomes extremely funny.

Ironically, it is Slater the middle-aged playboy who shows the most sensitivity to Patty's own desires and expectations -- where the younger man demonstrates first an exploitative and then a self-righteous streak -- and Niven, with his knack of debonair self-deprecation, fully lives up to the 'sweet' and 'adorable' tags which to Don's fury she so casually bestows upon him. And even when the tables are apparently turned, David Slater's reaction is a good deal more generous-spirited than that of his rival. An ageing opportunist and ineffective father makes for an improbable attractive character, but in his way Slater is more likable than either of the younger but equally self-centred protagonists.

This being a romantic comedy, there has to be a proposal of marriage; several, in fact. Other features of significance include also a baking-tray, a bath, an electric iron, a fire-escape, an Irish cop, a promotional spot for beer, and the inevitable state of blameless but multiply-misinterpreted undress -- all the ingredients for a classic farce, with the aid of a snappy script, and expressive reactions from all the principals. This film had me laughing out loud in front of the television (admittedly mostly at Niven's tongue-in-cheek contributions!) but it also has the vital touch of humanity lacked by too many entries in the screwball genre. Crucially, despite its subject-matter, it doesn't depend on the shock-value of 'naughty' words to get its laughs, and as a result has worn well. Attitudes to pre-marital relations may have changed, but crossed wires and ironic repartee are as entertaining as ever.
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Not controversial nor important now but highly amusing.
alberto f. cañas19 June 1999
The Moon is Blue broke the Moral Code of the Hays Office and started its liquidation, not by its content, but by its use of words that were not accepted by the code, such as virgin and seduction. For that reason, it was important and controversial in 1953. But at that time, the original play by F.Hugh Herbert was a Broadway hit like many other F.Hugh Herbert and Norman Krasna plays. A run-of-the-mill comedy with practically no story but plenty of funny situations. The movie version, whose risqué dialogue, both writer Herbert and director Otto Preminger refused to alter, is still funny and still amusing, because it is clever and merry. The movie is a fine example of photographed theater, but the camera movements and the direction make the movie move. In fact, The Moon is Blue is the best work of actual direction that Preminger achieved in his career, not only for the movement of camera but for the movement of actors and the perfect performances he extracted from William Holden, David Niven and the lovely newcomer Maggie McNamara (whose tragic story would make a good TV film). After so many years, The Moon is Blue is a delight to watch from every angle except that of content and significance.
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Another loopy, goofy, unpredictable yet wonderful film
paluska2 January 2000
Maybe it's just me, but I am a "sucker' for these goofy films predicated on a chance meeting between the opposite sexes and what happens next! A sophisticated architect meets a gal, chases up the Empire State Building to catch her, does so and then......well, you'll just have to watch to find out what quirky things happen next. Suffice to say that Holden and Niven are great, and who would have expected the Catholic Legion of Decency to issue a "C" condemned rating for this film when Holden had actually said "no" to his girlfriend? A must-see on the history of motion picture ratings, if nothing else.
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Would they have been satisfied if she had called herself a slut?
Leslie Howard Adams9 February 2003
"The Moon is Blue" was denied a Production Code seal and the refusal was upheld upon appeal to the board of the Motion Picture Association, primarily because the character played by Maggie McNamara announced that she was a Virgin and intended to remain one until she was married. The words virgin and seduction were used frequently in this film that was mainly a comedy about being occupied or pre-occupied with sex and,for those reasons it was denied approval, and it was released and shown minus approval. It wasn't the first film to be denied a Production Code seal, but it was the one that led to the ultimate demise of the power of the Hays Office, the Legion of Decency and various local blue-nose censor boards to determine what could not be said or done on screen.
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ivan-224 March 2002
I was a kid when I first saw it, and despite difficulty in following the plot, I knew this was a very likable movie. When I saw it decades later, all my early perceptions were amply confirmed. Of course, the writer deserves most of the plaudit. It's my favorite Maggie McNamara movie. Her death has not even registered on Hollywood's tragedy-recycling radars. Nor have many others. (Kevin Coughlin, Brandon de Wilde, Bobby Driscoll, Scotty Beckett). With disbelief I read that in her last years Maggie had to type for a living. She was a true, dedicated thespian without any vanity, a lady.
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character development
RanchoTuVu19 April 2007
You'll never know who these people really are in this movie. They have no background. They just appear in the Empire State Building in order to get the story rolling. And roll it does. It's a very superficial, pretty inconsequential, and funny comedy. Who cares who the characters are or were, anyway? The thing most important is physical and sexual and all the jockeying that goes on before the relationship reaches that point. It turns out to be a comedy-writer's paradise. Of course in the end they will get married to at least throw a bone to social mores. Holden is near top form and Niven, as his older upstairs neighbor whose daughter was Holden's girlfriend, is classic.
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From stage to screen to early 50's censorship to a small screen gem.
Xjayhawker28 February 2013
For the life of me, I have to admit I had never seen this until a rainy Thursday on TCM. It is easy to see this stage play was easy enough to adapt to the screen.The entire movie takes place in two apartments and a hallway. Well I suppose you have to include a shot of a fire escape in the rain. Two fathers (David Niven and Tom Tully) and two daughters attracted to the same man , a 35 year old William Holden playing 35. A girl of 23 looking very much like a young Debbie Reynolds..really quite cute and charming and capable of holding her own with two veteran actors Niven and Holden..just a little sad she ended up a typist and overdosed in NY at the age of 48..She is splendid in this piece and the five are all pretty good. It is a little "tell" that Tom Tully admits in this movie he's a cop when he would end up playing a cop in San Francisco Beat/the Lineup with Warner Anderson also in the early 50's maybe a year or two later. I admit this is a delightful film and it is only at the end of the movie that you hear the movie's title uttered by William Holden.
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David Niven at this best
ericbryce223 November 2006
This is one of my favorite old movies. Although William Holden is the leading man here this is one of those movies where one of the side characters is the most memorable. In this case it's David Niven. He's such a stuffed shirt that about as cavalier as he can manage to get is when he tells Peggy's character "I want to kiss you until your lips are somewhat bruised". He relates the story of the failure of his first marriage to a "southern gal" who was always baking pop overs and served them at every meal. After dinner she would always drawl "wasn't them popovers good?". He stood all he could of this airhead until one day when he hit her across the rear end with a hot popover pan. He said " it raised quite a welt, although I was not privileged to see it." When Peggy later says her feet hurt he says "never say your feet hurt. My foot hurts singular is acceptable but to say my feet hurt is a rather sordid admission." The fact that I am writing these lines from memory will tell you how much fun I had watching this movie over and over. William Holden was the king of the movies as far as I'm concerned and he was charming and at his best in this movie. He made more really good memorable movies than Clark Gable could have hoped for. This movie is not well known and as far as I'm able to find out is not available of DVD. I'm hoping is will be eventually because it's a nice funny little movie that shows New York in it's heyday.
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It's one of my favorite comedies
chris-45930 June 1999
I've only seen the English version of "The Moon is Blue". I usually don't like Otto Preminger's films, but this one I simply adore. It's one of my favorite comedies. The performances are very good. All the actors have a great sense of timing. I believe it is a film one shouldn't miss. In the beginning it may seem like a silly, strange story, but it's really very funny.
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To me, a gem in the rough.
Skubishack33311 July 2012
Clicking through an endless guide that contained the typical TV offerings I was drawn to this by the description for such an older movie. I was interested to see what would be the content of such an older film with it's steamy description. To my surprised it was extremely entertaining and lighthearted... or am I just hardened by the times that we live in. Anyway... I enjoyed the situational comedy which in some ways reminded me of an Elvis Presley movie called "Live a Little, Love a Little" in the way that it changes pace but keeps the main characters interesting as they carry out the story. I also enjoyed seeing the way that a playboys life in the early 50's was perceived and I also enjoyed going back in time and seeing the behavior of the characters as they related to the story and it's topics. Had the industry not been so hard with its rating for this film... I think it could have been turned into a wonderful sit-com for TV in the 1950's... but that's just my opinion. Overall it was an enjoyable, light hearted comedy about sex (or lack of) that made me happy that I found it so late at night with all the other offerings that could have detoured my attention. This was only a few years before my days began but I could easily see these kinds of characters living out the story in real life as it was back in those days. The writers did a fantastic job with their use of language especially because had this been remade today most young people probably would be at a tremendous lost for words to make this type of film work as well as it did. There is much to learn about using language properly to tell a story... one that would have worked just as well if it were only on radio. Todays film values are all too visual and sorely lacks verbal entertainment which this film provides in great quantity and quality. I am glad to have found this gem in the rough.
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A controversial comedy; Niven is priceless
Jimmy L.17 September 2010
THE MOON IS BLUE is a comedy based on a stage play about the kooky happenings one evening when a playboy bachelor brings an innocent young woman back to his apartment for dinner.

This racy comedy never earned a Production Code certification. It was very controversial in the 1950s for its frankness about sex and its use of taboo words like "virgin", "mistress", and "pregnant". It's nothing outrageous by modern-day standards, but it is noticeably up-front for '50s Hollywood.

The hijinks involves four characters: an architect bachelor (William Holden), a frank young woman (Maggie McNamara), the witty upstairs neighbor (David Niven), and his daughter, the architect's jilted ex (Dawn Addams). Both men find themselves strangely attracted to the girl, who bewilders them with her bluntness and honesty. The night is filled with misunderstandings and screwy surprises. It's a fun film, though stagey.

William Holden and David Niven bring A-list talent to the production, and neither disappoints. It's actually pretty cool to see their different styles on display in the same scene. The ever-smooth Holden, with his rain coat and masculine virility, and the delightfully witty Niven, with his proper grammar and trimmed mustache.

David Niven is by far my favorite thing about this movie. He is hilarious in his role as the ineffectual father of Holden's quasi-psychotic ex-girlfriend. He comes downstairs to Holden's apartment because his daughter has told him that Holden had "done her wrong". Holden defends himself, explaining that she'd spent the night in his bedroom while he slept on the couch. Niven ponders the situation and decides that maybe that *was* how Holden had "wronged" her. ("A very humiliating experience. I probably should beat you up anyway.") His comedic reactions throughout the film are great. Never far from a cocktail and never at a loss for an eloquent witticism, Niven's at the top of his game here.

I saw this rare film on TCM and the print was pretty poor. Aside from the dirty image quality, there were several abrupt cuts (missing frames/footage?) and even inconsistent audio levels. I guess this film wasn't taken very good care of over the decades. Still, the print is certainly watchable and the movie is an interesting piece of Hollywood history. And there are some real laughs, too.
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Once controversial, now tame
Stefan Kahrs30 April 1999
It is not easy to see from today's point of view why this film created such controversy when it came out, today it appears quite tame, and even a bit dated.

The casting is generally fine, with the exception that Hardy Krüger was at least 5 years too young for his role as a worldly architect -- in the German version of the film. Yes, this was one of the last Hollywood examples of films made in different language versions, with slightly different casts to appeal to these different audiences. The best written role in this teleplay is 'David Slater', but it requires an actor of distinctive scene-stealing qualities to pull it off. Both David Niven (American version) and Johannes Heesters (German version) fit this bill perfectly.
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Mother of Mercy
blanche-218 September 2010
I remember when "The Moon is Blue" was premiering on television, it was talked about in hushed tones. What hoopla. Raised Catholic, I was well aware that this scandalous film was given a C - CONDEMNED rating by the Legion of Decency. Who knew what went on in this film - it must have been really awful.

Well, what a letdown. "The Moon is Blue" is a comedy, based on a play, about an outspoken, naive virgin named Patty (Maggie McNamara) who meets Donald (William Holden) on top of the Empire State Building, goes to his apartment, and meets his divorced neighbor David Slater (David Niven), whose daughter Donald just broke up with. The night goes on and on, with Cynthia, the old girlfriend, showing up, David getting drunk, Patty's policeman father (Tom Tully) appearing, etc.

THIS is this scandalous, "adult" film? Hello, the words virgin and mistress are used, apparently forbidden by that blasted code. Good for Preminger and the producers for ignoring them.

Holden and Niven are excellent, and Holden looks especially handsome in this. Maggie McNamara holds her own against them with no problem. She was a vivacious, petite actress who reminds one of Debbie Reynolds. An experienced stage actress when Preminger signed her to do this film, McNamara had played the role in the national company of the play for over a year. More films and television followed for about 10 years, but when she died at the age of 48, she was working as a typist. It's difficult to think that this fresh-faced young woman died early and in such sad circumstances.

"The Moon is Blue" is interesting for its historical significance, as it is one of the films that helped break the code. However, that's about it. Otherwise, it's a well-acted light comedy that's a little talky by today's standards.
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Drink to Me Only with Thine Eyes.
Spikeopath29 June 2013
The Moon is Blue is one of those olde rom-coms that nowadays has the ability to baffle us as to how it caused such ripples in the movie world back in the day. But ripples it did stir, and all told it's a pretty effective study of manners, etiquette and sexual understandings.

Directed by Otto Preminger and based on F. Hugh Herbert's cheeky play of the film's title, it stars William Holden, David Niven and Maggie McNamara. Plot essentially revolves around McNamara holding onto her virginity as the male predators close in. If she holds firm she will of course snare the man she is meant to be with.

It's a bit talky and too mired in its stage origins at times, but there's a waspish deliberation about the humour that holds attention and the performances, in conjunction with Preminger's agile camera techniques, are well worth investment.

More curio than essential cinema, but enjoyable and rich with characterisations of worth. 7/10
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Maggie May (Or May Not)
writers_reign19 January 2013
Warning: Spoilers
This film was shown on British television yesterday and aware of the controversial initial screenings some sixty years ago I decided to give it a whirl. I found a delightful sophisticated romantic comedy with elements of other works - Holden himself would vie with an older man (Bogie) in Billy Wilder's Sabrina Fair the very next year - a film that was also based on a Broadway play - for the affections of a delightful ingenue (in that case, Audrey Hepburn, who several people on this very site have mentioned in the same breath as McNamara, and in a later Wilder film, The Apartment there's a scene where a relative - in that case a brother, here, a father - walks into a room and sees something he misconstrues and socks the innocent protagonist. Light as a soufflé, reeking of sophistication, this is a definite charmer.
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Ohh, she said she's a virg-- This is amusing, despite all
Brevity1 June 2005
Yes, it does seem silly today, the controversy. It almost seems as though they are saying, "Look what we're not afraid to say"; but I don't know, so I won't say they are. But beyond these evil words, is there anything? Yes, but nothing special.

It's based on play and thus play-like. Problem? Slight. There is many a flaw in the script. The film drags in places and, in others, borders on the tedious. The character of Cynthia works on no level whatsoever.

But there is much good as well. Some nice - and funny - dialogue. Solid performances from the main trio. Holden is good here between much superior Wilders, and McNamara's debut is of quality. The most amusement, however, comes from Niven's schtick - and it is, indeed, amusement. Nothing more, nothing less.

Of the title song, then, I won't say a thing.
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So What Was The Big Deal?
bkoganbing15 October 2009
Watching The Moon Is Blue today is watching a rather ordinary comedy that had a respectable run on Broadway (924 performances in the 1951- 1953 season) that got blown totally out of proportion because of the attendant publicity.

More tickets were sold for this film, more publicity was generated for this film than the hype of a dozen press agents by the actions of the censors, in this case the Catholic Legion Of Decency who objected to the words 'pregnant' and 'virgin' being in the script. But isn't that always the case, tell people something is banned and they flock to see it out of curiosity if nothing else.

Otto Preminger directed the play on Broadway and brought it here to the cinema and expanded it a bit for the screen. The roles of the cab driver Gregory Ratoff, the TV singer Fortunio Bonanova, interestingly enough the daughter of David Niven, Dawn Addams did not exist in the original play. It was a four person comedy with a cast that included Barbara Bel Geddes, Barry Nelson, Donald Cook, and Ralph Dunn playing the parts that went to Maggie McNamara, William Holden, David Niven and Tom Tully.

However Maggie McNamara did play the lead in the national touring company and Preminger did bring her to Hollywood. She even received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress, but lost that year to a very similar actress in a similar role, Audrey Hepburn for Roman Holiday.

The wolfish William Holden spots McNamara leaving his building and follows her up to the top of the Empire State Building observation deck. You know the old saying, he pursued her enough until she decided to let him catch her. They go back to his apartment where she also arouses the interest in an old roué in the person of neighbor David Niven. Holden was going out for a bit with his daughter Dawn Addams. The two pursue her for the rest of the film and you figure out who she winds up with.

This is the plot of a gazillion comedies and the mere use of a couple of forbidden words elevated The Moon Is Blue to something way beyond what it actually merited. The Moon Is Blue also got Oscar nominations for the title song and for film editing.

This film did not lead to a brilliant film career for Maggie McNamara. That tragic woman did a couple of better films Prince Of Players and Three Coins In The Fountain and then Otto Preminger also cast her in The Cardinal. All of those were better than The Moon Is Blue for which she was nominated.

Looking at that film almost 60 years later, you scratch your head and wonder what the big deal was with his movie.
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Modestly Entertaining Curiosity
dougdoepke8 December 2011
A slightly kooky young woman tantalizes two bachelors with her innocence.

Considering several drawbacks, the movie remains rather charming, thanks mainly to Audrey Hepburn look-alike McNamara. Still, the staging is 99-minutes of talk, with maybe two or three sets, only three players, and absolutely no action. Add an obsolete attraction of taboo words like "virgin' and "seduce"-- words now found across the TV dial— and the stage-bound film dates itself.

Nonetheless, the three principals play off one another well, along with some fairly sprightly dialog. Then too, director Preminger gets to indulge his penchant for extra-long uninterrupted scenes. I count one scene at about ten minutes without a break. However, catch how adeptly the actors maintain their act during these extended takes.

Actually, Preminger occupies an important place in the evolution of mature movies—especially with this film and its challenge to public watchdogs of the time, who apparently came out in force to protest the suggestive dialog. (Also key to the evolution—drug addiction in Man With The Golden Arm {1957} and sexual explicitness in Anatomy of a Murder {1959}, both Preminger projects.)

Reading about McNamara's brief life is rather sad. Her performance here as the slightly kooky Patty is eye-catching, in my book, at least. Yet her career appears to have sputtered not long after. Perhaps it was the decade's preference for voluptuous leading ladies, which she definitely was not. Nonetheless, the movie manages some entertaining virtues, aside from remaining an historical curiosity, and can be viewed at either level.
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The Moon Is Not Blue.
morrison-dylan-fan25 April 2013
Warning: Spoilers
Searching around on Amazon Uk for titles that have come out on the Warner Archives DVD label,I was happy to stumble upon a Comedy directed by Otto Preminger,who I had heard about for the first time,thanks to the excellent Film Noir Bunny Lake Is Missing.

Talking to my dad and a friend,I was surprised to hear both of them give me the same response when I mentioned the title to them,with each of them saying the movie inspired "That M.A.S.H. episode!",which led to me deciding,that it would be a good time to find out how blue the moon really is.

The plot:

Taking a break from his work as a building designer in an office based in the Empire State building by doing some window shopping,Donald Gresham notices a very pretty girl called Patty O'Neill,who is also window shopping at a store near by.Keeping an eye on O'Neill, Gresham is pleased to see Patty head to the Empire State building.Deciding to go up and talk to O'Neill,Gresham is relived to find out that Patty is very easy going,and soon starts to arrange for O'Neill to come along with him to his apartment,so that Donald can cook a meal for both of them.

Walking into the tower block that Gresham is based in,Donald accidentally shows Patty that his last relationship ended less than mutually,when they both come face to face with the less than welcoming face of his ex-girlfriend Cynthia Slater.Moving O'Neill as quickly on from meeting his ex as Gresham is possible to do,Donald welcomes Patty into his lush apartment.Discoveing that there is no food at all in the fridge,Gresham decides to go to the local shop to pick up some good,whilst O'Neill makes herself comfortable.

10 Minutes later:

Hearing a knock on the door,O'Neill rushes to the door,excited about finding out what Gresham has picked up.Sadly for Patty,instead of finding Donald standing at the door,O'Neill finds a man who claims to be Cynthia Slater's dad.

View on the film:

Transferred from its stage origins, (for which he had also been a producer on) director Otto Preminger disappointingly shows an inability to break the movie out of its stage confines,due to Preminger making the limited number of locations that the film takes place be ones that feel confined and closed off,with Preminger only showing a stylish eye in his directing for the appearances of Cynthia Slater, (played by an alluring Dawn Addams)who thanks to distinctively dressing all in black,is shown by Preminger as an icy Femme Fatale.

Whilst Otto Preminger shows a limitation in his directing of this adaptation,writer Hugh Herbert shows an impressive amount of skill in adapting his own play,thanks to giving the screenplay a wonderful snappy pace that has each of the character's talking over one another,and hitting each with huge,screwball Comedy gum-balls,which also allows Herbert to cleverly give each of the character's gender-reversing personality's.

Bravely playing against the roles that they were meant to,due to the Hays Code still being enforced,each of the lead actors give fantastic performances that wittingly mess with (at the time) audiences expectations on how men and women should behave in films,with Maggie McNamara (who died from a suicide age 48 in 1978,and is tragically buried in an unmarked grave) giving a delightful performance as Patty O'Neill,thanks to McNamara delivering Herbert's sharp dialogue of questioning Donald and Slater's dad bedroom activates with a real Comedy relish.

Contrasting the frank & brash McNamara,William Holden and David Niven each give terrific performances,with Niven showing Slater's dad to be someone who fears that he may be getting pushed to the side as a "washed up" playboy by a whip-smart O"Neill,whilst William Holden shows Donald's reservations in meeting his match in Patty O'Neill,which soon leads to all of the character's finding out how blue the moon really is.
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What was the shouting about?
theowinthrop20 February 2005
The problem about censorship is that inevitably it dates. D.H.Lawrence, James Joyce, Gustave Flaubert, Leo Tolstoi were all censored for "Lady Chatterly's Lover", "Ulysses", "Madame Bovary", and "The Kruezer Sonata" when they came out, but today these books seems very run-of-the-mill in terms of their steaminess. The same happens with movies. "The Moon Is Blue" is typical. The hubbub in 1953 was the use of the word "virgin" in the film. Maggie McNamara's seeming willingness to experiment with sex is another reason (although it turns out she is more talk than action). Nowadays this seems to be relatively nothing.

Censorship also breeds publicity, and in show business most publicity is good for the sale of tickets to the public. "The Moon Is Blue" had good box office. So much for the efficacy of censorship.

Despite some of the favorable comments, most people are bored watching this film now. It was not terrifically funny. Holden and Niven are chums who are rivals for McNamara. Their actions in competition over McNamara now seem witless.

One final point. This film was the subject of a plot in an episode of the television series, "M.A.S.H." Hawkeye and B.J. hear about how the censors are against this film, and they have a chance (by trading favors) of seeing it. When they get the film at the 4077th they are both appalled at how unfunny and tame it is. Enough said.
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The Vapid Virgin
moonspinner5517 November 2010
A sex comedy in which the laughs allegedly derive from the fact that nobody gets any. Four-character, two-set play about an unmarried New York City architect who becomes inexplicably smitten with a brightly-dotty would-be actress whom he meets at the top of the Empire State Building; he takes her back to his place for a drink (not a seduction!), where they run into the playboy-father of the architect's ex-fiancée. Producer-director Otto Preminger, working from F. Hugh Herbert's adaptation of his Broadway success (which Preminger presented on the stage), obviously had faith in this material, but it's far too flimsy to work up a head of comedic steam. William Holden gives the scenario more charm and panache than it deserves, while David Niven (as Holden's potential father-in-law?) is miscast. Oscar-nominated Maggie McNamara portrays the insipidly-named Patty O'Neill--an inquisitive Irish gal from Brooklyn who knows the facts of life--as if she were auditioning for the 'kooky neighbor' spot on "Guiding Light". *1/2 from ****
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Better With Age
drwolner12 November 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Having not seen this film in over 50 years, I remembered it as a great bore. But I was surprised - just a bit. This is really theater with limited sets and 3 main characters who continually talk with very little physical movement. Not much for a teenager - except that it didn't receive the Breen Hollywood Seal of Approval because of the use of sexy words like virgin, pregnant, and seduce. I, like so many others, had to see this picture ( just like I had to see "The Outlaw"). Unfortunately, nothing really sexy happens and it was a real let down in more then one way.

But now, although the story is totally ridiculous (two adult men wanting to marry a 23 year old wisenheimer after just meeting her) I really enjoyed David Niven. He looks great, has the best lines in the film and drinks enormous, unbelievable amounts of alcohol. Poor Maggie McNamara (and I mean poor Maggie who committed suicide at 48) doesn't really look like Audrey Hepburn at all - her close ups are a little scary. This was her first movie after modeling (her figure makes it hard to believe). And her speaking voice is really very unusual and ultimately very annoying (yet she received an Academy nomination). William Holden is totally artificial and although he was 35 at the time he, sadly, looks so much older.

So why did I enjoy this. Niven,Niven,Niven and the 50's apartment sets, and the 50's mentality with a little bit of Dawn Addams to boot. My favorite line: Holden- Why are you so preoccupied with sex? McNamara- Isn't it better to be preoccupied than occupied?
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That is one strange woman as well as one strange film...
MartinHafer6 February 2011
This is a very surprising film to watch. After all, for 1953, it's amazingly frank about sex--a subject you just didn't talk about in films at that time due to the Production Code. However, somehow Otto Preminger got away with a very 'dirty' film--though by today's standards it's pretty tame.

The film begins with William Holden trying to pick up a woman (Maggie McNamara). However, almost immediately it becomes obvious that this is a bizarre woman. She just isn't normal--and is very frank in discussing premarital sex with Holden, though she insists on retaining her virginity! In fact, it's one of the first films after the Production Code was enacted in 1934 to use the V-word---'virgin'! Holden takes her home--where it soon becomes apparent he is quite the playboy and has just broken up with another girl. Oddly, the girl's father (David Niven) drops in and stars making passes at McNamara and from then on, it's a contest to see which guy will get this girl by the end of the movie.

Despite its blunt attitude about sex, the film is enjoyable and there is a quirky strangeness about McNamara's character that makes her likable. Not a great film by any standard, but enjoyable and an interesting film because of its moral compass...which is, apparently, a tad bent.
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Real strengths and real weaknesses
vincentlynch-moonoi14 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The good news is about the most clever dialog I've seen in a film in a very long time. The bad news is that that dialog came from the play of the same name, and the film looks very much like a play with very limited looking sets at that. Add in that the print seen broadcast today has not survived well and...well, it isn't the easiest film to watch.

The story is a bit interesting, although it may not sound so -- odd girl meets city architect at the Empire State Building. They fall in love. Then out of love...all in one 24 hour period. And then back in love. What's interesting about it is the very unusual girl played by Maggie McNamara. Very interesting character.

To me, McNamara is the real star here. Unfortunately, though her early career began with great promise (as sort of a down-to-earth Audrey Hepburn), she dropped out of acting, ended up as a temp typist, and committed suicide at age 49.

William Holden's role here as the love interest is good, though not remarkable. David Niven is interesting here...sort of competition in the love department, but not really. It's a bit of a subdued Niven, although Niven could give real bite to his acting...and does here. Also of interest to me is Tom Tully in a small role as the father of McNamara's competition; his next role was as the wizened skipper of the ship in "The Caine Mutiny".

Do I recommend this film? If you like clever repartee, then yes. If you like a story with a plot that moves along with different scenery, then no.
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