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Two for the Seesaw (1962)

Approved | | Drama, Romance | 24 November 1962 (USA)
Jerry Ryan is wandering aimlessly around New York, having given up his law career in Nebraska when his wife asked for a divorce. He meets up with Gittel Mosca, an impoverished dancer from ... See full summary »


Robert Wise


William Gibson (play), Isobel Lennart (screenplay)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 2 nominations. See more awards »




Cast overview:
Robert Mitchum ... Jerry Ryan
Shirley MacLaine ... Gittel Mosca
Edmon Ryan ... Frank Taubman
Elisabeth Fraser ... Sophie
Eddie Firestone ... Oscar
Billy Gray Billy Gray ... Mr. Jacoby
Learn more

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Jerry Ryan is wandering aimlessly around New York, having given up his law career in Nebraska when his wife asked for a divorce. He meets up with Gittel Mosca, an impoverished dancer from Greenwich Village, and the two try to straighten out their lives together. Written by Will Gilbert

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


a square from Nebraska? an off-beatnik from Greenwich Village? It just didn't figure... that they would... that they could... that they did!


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


Based on the Broadway play, which starred Anne Bancroft and Henry Fonda. See more »


During one of first phone conversations between Gittel and Jerry, albums in her record rack don't come close to matching from shot to shot. See more »


Jerry Ryan: You've nothing better to do.
Gittel 'Mosca' Moscawitz: I've eleven different things I could be doing!
Jerry Ryan: Different isn't better. Why aren't you doing them?
See more »


Referenced in Laugh-In: Episode #1.4 (1977) See more »


Second Chance
Music by André Previn
Lyrics by Dory Previn
Sung by Jackie Cain (uncredited)
See more »

User Reviews

Beautiful but frustrating
12 November 2003 | by editorbobSee all my reviews

This film is a good example of why I love black & white movies.

Director Wise, cinematographer Ted McCord, and production

designer Boris Leven craft light, shadow, and line into two hours of

absolutely lovely images, making the most of such elements as

the contrast between MacLaine's hair, eyes, and skin, and the

juxtaposition of the hard lines of doorframes and shadows with

the softness of rumpled fabric and fluid dancer's movement. (And I

loved the split set.) Total eye candy for B&W lovers, and an

incidental, abrupt reminder of what a beautiful woman the young

Shirley was.

Unfortunately, the script seems very dated here in the twenty-first

century. The characters' relationship is frustrating, and (reported

offscreen chemistry notwithstanding) MacLaine and Mitchum look

very much mismatched. (Supposedly it was originally to be Liz

Taylor and Paul Newman. I can't see Liz here, but a MacLaine- Newman pairing could have been hot. But we'll never know.) I

found MacLaine's character to be much more believable--more

rounded, containing more nuance--than Mitchum's. While this

seems mostly the script's fault, I do feel that MacLaine here brings

more quirky humanity to her work than does Mitchum (who I like

very much in general).

"Seesaw" stands out for me as one of those films that, because of

its meticulous attention to visual detail, becomes an archetypal

period piece as it ages--firmly among the films everyone making a

movie set in the early 1960s should study carefully.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

24 November 1962 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Two for the Seesaw See more »


Box Office


$3,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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