Move Over, Darling (1963) Poster

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Doris Day at her zaniest!
Hoohawnaynay19 February 2003
I really like this Doris Day flick. Doris does more slapstick in this feature than all her other movies put together. James Garner thinks Doris has been dead for 5 years. He is now on his honeymoon with new wife Polly Bergen and guess who shows up after being rescued off a deserted island? You got it. Doris hilariously ruins the honeymoon (this was when couples waited until the honeymoon to make love, YEAH RIGHT!) Anyway, Polly is quite frustrated not getting any action from James Garner. Several scenes are classics. especially when Doris poses as a Swedish Masseur and practically beats Polly to a pulp. The best scene of all is watching Doris drive a brand new 1963 Imperial Conv. into a car wash and then accidentally putting the top down.

Don Knotts makes a funny cameo as a randy shoe salesman and Edgar Buchanan (Petticoat Junction) is funny as a surly Court Judge. Thelma Ritter is always funny and she is up to par here. This movie was apparently re-worked for Doris Day after the death of Marilyn Monroe who was essentially filming the same movie when she died. Even the sets were basically the same. I guess 20th Century Fox needed the money after the Liz Taylor fiasco "Cleopatra" almost put them in bankruptcy. Overall, a very cute, sexy (for the era) funny movie. They don't make cute movies like this anymore. Too bad.
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Think Of The Potential
bkoganbing17 August 2008
Move Over Darling with James Garner and Doris Day which is a remake of the RKO classic My Favorite Wife is probably better known for being the end result of the disaster known as Something's Gotta Give. That of course is Marilyn Monroe's legendary last film that she never finished.

Looking over the cast of the unfinished Something's Gotta Give I have to say though I don't think it would have been Monroe's greatest film, the rest of the cast was pretty good. When 20th Century Fox fired Marilyn, Dean Martin also quit and the whole film was scrapped. At that point it was just decided to redo the whole thing with an entire new cast and apparently no one survived the change.

I also imagine that a serious rewrite would have to be done in order that a role originally cast for Marilyn Monroe could fit Doris Day. Seeing Doris on the screen I can't imagine that Chuck Connors or in Marilyn's case, Tom Tryon, would have been unsuccessfully trying to catch her on a desert island for five years.

The story as originally written by Sam and Bella Spewack has James Garner going to court to get his first wife, missing for five years after a forced ocean landing, declared legally dead. He wants to marry Polly Bergen. But wouldn't you know it, a Navy submarine rescues Doris Day at just that time and when she hears about Garner's new bride, it's Doris off to spoil that honeymoon.

Polly Bergen was just great as the picture of sexual frustration on that honeymoon. Although I can certainly see Cyd Charisse in that same spot with Dean Martin.

Edgar Buchanan is great as the crusty judge who declares Doris legally dead the first time and then has all the parties and then some in court to try and untangle things. That role was supposed to go to John McGiver and certainly those two would have been different types.

It goes that way up and down the cast list, Don Knotts substituting for Wally Cox as the timid shoe salesman Doris has impersonate Chuck Connors so Garner won't be jealous. And I can't see much difference with Phil Silvers as opposed to John Astin as the smarmy insurance man.

One thing I did notice is that there was no equivalent parts in Something's Gotta Give for Fred Clark the hotel manager and Thelma Ritter as Garner's mother. My guess is that whoever was supposed to play those roles may never have got on camera because there was no way to shoot around them.

I suppose the best thing to do is not speculate, but enjoy the funny comedy that did come out of all the grief 20th Century Fox had with this film.

Certainly only Doris Day could convince you that in five years she never succumbed to Chuck Connors.
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Moderately enjoyable.
fletch516 February 2003
Although this glossy remake of the 1940 comedy "My Favorite Wife" did not turn into the funniest Doris Day vehicle, it does provide several highly amusing moments (Doris's posing as the Swedish nurse is priceless). There are a couple of scenes that could have done with some trimming (Day and Garner's scene in the hotel room and the opening courtroom sequence come to mind) but the film benefits from an excellent supporting cast, Thelma Ritter being the stand-out.
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Doris Day lovers will love this one!
Bondgirl17 December 2000
No, it's not the most hilarious movie you've ever seen. But there is something magical about Move Over, Darling. No one could ever get mad like Doris Day and boy does she shine in this movie as usual. It's a fun film that anyone can enjoy if they don't think too hard and just sit back and relax. The added bonus is seeing James Garner flashing that million dollar smile and of course, Thelma Ritter who was always a riot in any movie she was in. Doris Day lovers need to add this to their collection.
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James Garner is sooo hot and Doris shines as usual!
JLB-411 August 1999
Despite my not being around when this was released, (I am 14) James Garner is really a dish. I enjoyed this movie a lot. It was done in a way you don't see anymore. James and Doris look so cute together. I really liked the story and am hoping to see the original with Cary Grant/Irene Dunne. I especially have a place in my heart for Doris Day's 60's comedies and I rank this with the best of them. I love the car wash scene...It was so cute. And Doris's and James's jealousies at what they had been doing when they were away, (just the measures they took), just was funny. If you wanna feel good, watch this movie!!!
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The perfect feel good movie!
This is the perfect Sunday morning movie. It is absolutely delightful with a spectacular cast that even the least devoted movie buff will recognize. The primary actors, Doris Day, James Garner, Thelma Ritter, Polly Bergen, and Don Knotts are comic masters at the very peak of their talents. Aside from Doris Day's genius, Thelma Ritter pulls off another jem as Garner's mother. Thelma Ritter is in my honest opinion, the best character actress that Hollywood has ever produced, and is allowed to perform her many talents with minimal intrusions by other actors or the movies editors. If you love Doris Day, admire great comedy movies, or just need a little entertainment, this is the perfect way to spend a couple of hours!
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Another Thelma Ritter gem
JSanicki16 February 2003
This is the somewhat "infamous" film that has the distinction of being Marilyn Monroe's final film (titled "Something's Got to Give"), however she doesn't appear in any scene of it whatsoever. That's because by the time this film ended up being made, she was sadly already dead. Nevertheless Doris Day, James Garner, Polly Bergen and Don Knotts step in to replace Marilyn, Dean Martin, Cyd Charisse and Wally Cox and the results are simply hysterical.

This is a classic early 1960's "Kennedy-era" screwball comedy with jokes, gags, comic pratfalls and the like. Who out there will ever be able to forget Doris Day as the scheming "Swedish Nurse" and Thelma Ritter as the up to no good meddling mother-in-law? Move Over, Darling is a film that I like to watch at least twice a year whenever I need a good laugh.

My only wish is that Rock Hudson would have teamed up with Doris yet again to reprise their earlier success of "Pillow Talk". James Garner to me always seemed a bit wooden in the role of Nicholas Arden. Both Polly Bergen and Thelma Ritter singlehandedly steal the show.

One final note: in the original "Something's Got To Give" film that Marilyn did, there was a nude swimming pool scene. I would have liked to have seen Doris try to pull that one off, but alas, was it too "impure" for her to even think of doing in the first place?

My rating: 3 stars

(For an excellent analysis of Marilyn Monroe's final film with 20th Century Fox check out the book "Marilyn the Last Take". You won't be disappointed, trust me.)
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Is it wrong to consider it one of my favourite Doris Day films?
TheLittleSongbird3 October 2010
As a big fan of Doris Day, I loved Move Over Darling. My Favourite Wife is often compared to this film, but I personally prefer this film. Move Over Darling is funny, charming and without a wasted scene. The film looks fabulous, with beautiful cinematography and fresh-looking scenery, while the soundtrack is bright and breezy. Then there is an engaging story, a witty and charming script and professional direction.

Not only that there is some fine acting in this film. I have always loved Doris Day, not only as a talented singer but as a fresh and endearing actress, and she is lovely in Move Over Darling, and James Garner as always is immensely likable. While Polly Bergen and Chuck Connors give perfect support as the other woman and the hunk marooned with Day, it is the delightful Thelma Ritter who steals the show as Day's outspoken mother-in-law.

Overall, one of my favourite Doris Day films, and a film that is warm, witty and charming. 9/10 Bethany Cox
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Plush, burlesque comedy
moonspinner5527 January 2001
While on his honeymoon with a lusty, neurotic bride, widower James Garner discovers the hard way that first wife Doris Day is still very much alive. Enjoyable bedroom-farce, a remake of Cary Grant and Irene Dunne's "My Favorite Wife", has a colorful supporting cast, cute kids, a fine score by Lionel Newman and, of course, Day herself, shining brightly while going from happy to sad to frantic to sentimental. Despite some forced bits (shouting from Garner and the tired jokes with the irritated judge), it's a happily brawling slapstick comedy. I loved the scene where Doris, dressed like a sailor, sees her two daughters for the first time in years ("Are you a lady or a man?" they ask her) or when she sings them to sleep and one of the girls recognizes the song, but overcome by memories says she doesn't like it. Doris gives Polly Bergen the massage of her life, trades dry quips with Thelma Ritter, flirts with Don Knotts, and gives Chuck Conners a series of karate moves that leaves him floored. It's a comedic tour-de-force for the actress. *** from ****
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Let's not forget it's over 40 years old.....
mdantonio25 April 2005
I had never seen this movie but once I saw the cast, I new it had to be at least acceptable (it turned out to be much better than that). Each actor was skilled in either movie or television and the delivery of most of the comedic lines were as professional as can be. Doris Day, as a whole, is so underrated and rarely mentioned in discussions of fine actresses, when she should be. Whether it be good drama or good comedy, both are difficult and she fills the part extremely well. As for Garner, yes Grant has big shoes to fill but his presence is strongly felt. All of the others are just fantastic, all the way to Chuck Conners, in the roles they play. As a side note Maverick (Garner) meets the Rifleman (Conners).
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Great mid-century classic
FishIM19 September 2004
This movie epitomizes the blind optimism of the mid-century era. Its one of the perfect movies for Vintage and Mid-Century collectors. This is a remake of the uncompleted Marilyn Monroe/Dean Martin version (which is available in its

incomplete form in the Marilyn Monroe Diamond Collection) The Monroe

version wasn't finished because she died during filming after many on set

problems, it was slated to be finished ans just before filming she died! Having seen the monroe version and this as well, I have to say both are great in their own ways, the shots are almost identical, the dialogue as well, but casting

makes all the difference! The Day/Garner version has a much more wholesome/ happy vibe to it that for me is the hallmark of movies of the Mid-century era. You half expect to hear someone say "golly gee willikers"! or something corny like that. Doris Day delivers a performance that only Day can and Garner is the

unsung hero of this kind of genre movie, he had great comic timing, he was

dashing and personable without ever coming off as too sleazy or smarmy. I

really ache to see this one on DVD, especially if they are kind enough to include some fantastic extras!!!
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Giving this a huge thumbs up for modernizing a classic and being equally as enjoyable.
mark.waltz18 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Doris Day herself even reflects on the original version of this ("My Favorite Wife") where, with a Swedish accent, she asks the new wife of her husband (James Garner) what would happen if the first wife (herself!) came back from the dead, "just like Irene Dunne done....ah, did..." The zaniness of this very 60's remake is obvious from the get-go, taking a good deal of the structure of the original, yet giving it a modern feel thanks to the presence of some of the biggest stars of its time and casting many great actors in smaller parts.

Take the opening courtroom sequence for instance with "Petticoat Junction's" Edgar Buchannan as the irascible judge who declares Ms. Day legally dead and then marries his "widower" to the neurotic Polly Bergen. As coincidence would have it, Doris has just returned from being shipwrecked on a desert island, shocking her mother-in-law (Thelma Ritter) who faints long enough to reveal her secret thrill that the new marriage isn't valid, sending Doris on her way to where the unlucky newlyweds are honeymooning. This creates a lot of confusion for the hotel staff once Garner is forced to get his back from the dead wife a room of her own so he can intelligently think of how he's going to get himself out of this jam.

Garner is a perfect replacement for Cary Grant, equally as dashing, and very much the picture-perfect husband. While Day is more famous for her pairings with Rock Hudson, I think she had equally hot chemistry with Garner, although they only did one other film together ("The Thrill of It All", the same year as this), and only did a total of three with "the Rock". I would also rank this higher than many of her other sex comedies of the late 50's and 60's for being consistently funny and definitely much better written, not rushed together just to get another film out to take advantage of her status as top female box office star, even higher than Liz, Audrey, Sophia, Marilyn (originally assigned to do this film) and Debbie.

Such comical gems as Fred Clark, Don Knotts, John Astin and Max Showalter have nice parts here, and Chuck Connors is (at least from the face down) nice to look at as the body builder Doris was stuck on an island with. There's plenty of slapstick to keep this moving at a steady pace, and a hysterical chase sequence that has Doris covered in car wash soap suds. Even if her character is a bit abrasive, Bergen adds a patheticness to her that you feel sorry for her even though it is obvious that she is fighting a losing battle. Ritter gets in a few of her typical deadpan laughs, and the children (played by Pami Lee and Leslie Farrell) are adorable. While remakes of classic screwball comedies are often a mixed bag, this one scores highly, even though the plot had been done over and over again. 1940's "Too Many Husbands" a sexually reversed version was not nearly as good as the remake, and only made more palatable with campy musical numbers as 1955's "Three For the Show".
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While not original, it's fast and funny and colorful.
secondtake28 January 2013
Move Over, Darling (1963)

The situation is hilarious--a man finally gives up his wife as dead in a plane crash in the South Pacific and remarries. Then she comes home, just hours after the ceremony. And in time to avoid the classic consummation at the ritzy hotel. Doris Day plays the lost wife returning home and her hubby is the charming James Garner. And Garner's mother--Day's mother in law--is played by the impeccable Thelma Ritter.

So what could go wrong here? Nothing much really. It's colorful, plasticky, fun, goofy, and well written. Except that it's a remake of a more famous and in many ways better movie starring the snappy on-screen couple: Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. The original is called "My Favorite Wife," and I totally recommend it.

It must have occurred to these newer actors that they had huge huge shoes to fill. And to make things more weird, Doris Day is basically filling in for Marilyn Monroe, who died during the filming of this same kind of plot (though this movie started the idea almost from scratch, only Ritter and some of the sets being carried over).

One way to avoid comparisons is to never see the original. We all know the dangers there--who wants to only see the second or third "King Kong" or the second "The Women" and so on? But there is also the truth that Doris Day is her own commodity. She is convincingly regular, a true 50s/60s mom type for middle class America (though be sure, these are all extremely rich people here, part of the glamorizing that the audience craves).

So go back to the start here--this is a well made, fast paced, silly movie in the Doris Day vein. She's the true star, though Garner does his best to be a somewhat more conventional Grant. There are a couple of scenes that will crack you up beyond the endless smaller jokes and gags. One is where Day pretends to be a Swedish masseuse and ends up "massaging" that is torturing the new wife. The other is a wonderful automatic car wash scene in a classic car with suds flying--and the top to the car goes down by mistake. Day is an amazing sport for all of this.
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In some ways better than "My Favorite Wife"
kyle-cruse21 October 2009
As you may know, "Move Over Darling" is a remake of the Cary Grant/Irene Dunne film "My Favorite Wife." This film copies the original almost scene-for-scene, with a few changes. I'm torn on which film is better all around, but this version fixes a few things that bothered me about the original. First of all, the reunion between the two main stars at the hotel toward the beginning is more romantic and emotional here. Also, I didn't like the ending of the original film, which felt tagged on and unsatisfying, whereas the ending to this film wrapped everything up nicely and pleasantly. This film has much better co-stars, including Don Knotts and Thelma Ritter. The only reason I do not say for sure that this film is better than the original is the fact that the original was a very funny film, which is not to say that this is unfunny, but the comedy simply doesn't measure up to the brilliance of Cary Grant. I recommend both versions, and while the original provided more laughs, this gives more emotional satisfaction, but both are enjoyable. Just don't watch them side-by-side or you may feel like you just saw the same film twice.

*** out of ****
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Move Out, Doris
BumpyRide25 February 2005
This time out, poor Doris is stranded on a deserted island before finally being rescued by a submarine just in time to show up at her husband's impending wedding. Sounds plausible to me! Polly Bergen is totally miscast, screeching and screaming her way through the entire movie. The same can be said for Doris' performance too. Besides being too many, how many bedroom comedies did she crank out? The car wash and chase "scene" were way too long and unfunny, with hokey 1960's sound effects that I've heard used on Saturday morning cartoons. James Garner seems to be the only saving grace to this film, never looking as dashing and suave as he does here. Made me wonder why his character would want to hang around either of the two "screaming Mimi's" in this film.
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Move Over, Darling is an enjoyable romp with Doris Day and James Garner
tavm24 July 2014
When James Garner died a few days ago, I suddenly had a yen to watch some of his movies. I managed to see The Americanization of Emily a couple of days ago with my mom after checking that from the library, and when Netflix delivered this one yesterday, Mom and me saw this just a couple of hours ago. Garner plays a man about to have his previous wife-Doris Day-declared dead after five years of disappearing from a sea accident so he can then marry Polly Bergen. But Day turns up rescued by Navy officers as she surprises mother-in-law Thelma Ritter and her two girls who are no longer babies. I'll stop there and just say that there are plenty of amusing supporting turns by familiar character actors like Edgar Buchanan as a judge, Fred Clark as a hotel manager, Don Knotts as a show salesman, John Astin as an insurance man, and Chuck Connors as someone who ended up on that island with Day. Day, herself, is pretty hilarious when she disguises herself as a Swedish nurse when massaging Bergen and recounting the movie My Favorite Wife of which this was a remake. The chase at the end was a bit over-the-top but what the hell! I also liked it when Garner pretended to be injured in some scenes. So on that note, I thought Move Over, Darling was a mostly fun movie to watch as did Mom. P.S. I know this was originally supposed to be a Marilyn Monroe vehicle called Something's Got to Give and having seen the scenes that were filmed for that one, it's a shame it had to be scrapped because of her personal problems that resulted in her death.
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dotty Doris remake
didi-520 December 2004
Chuck Connors as 'Adam' to Doris Day's 'Eve'? Surely a recipe for fun, frolics, and misunderstandings ...

'Move Over Darling' is a remake of 'My Favorite Wife' which manages to surpass it. Ellen (Day), married to Nicky (James Garner, OK but she'd worked with better leading men) goes missing after a shipwreck and is declared legally dead so he can marry again. His new wife Bianca (Polly Bergen) is just as shrewy and screwy and you can well understand his just wanting a quiet life.

The fur really begins to fly when Ellen returns after spending some time, alone, on an island with Stephen (Connors), a fellow traveller. There's a courtroom scene which is absolutely hysterical towards the end of the movie - don't miss it - although an earlier bit where Day goes through a car wash (in a car with no top) is well worth watching too. No one looked better rucked up and covered in soapsuds than the majestical Miss Day.
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"What might have been"
ticketseller889511 July 2004
The original MY FAVORITE WIFE is a masterpiece in screwball romantic comedy. The remake, MOVE OVER, DARLING is a minor fluff piece which can't quite find its own legs. Originally started with George Cukor directing and Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse in 1962 as SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE, MOVE OVER DARLING was cancelled, then restarted again the following year. What overshadows the production is the contemplation of "what might have been" had the original remake been fully realized. Doris Day and James Garner are nonetheless delightful as are the supporting players Polly Bergen and Don Knotts. The new version takes some of the implied sexiness of the original and plays it out in typical 1960s Technicolor sex comedies of the time (for which Doris Day seemed to churn out in her sleep). Enjoyable for its parts if not for its sum. MOVE OVER, DARLING is recommended viewing. Make sure you see Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in MY FAVORITE WIFE eventually.
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Cute 1960s fluff
mermatt10 June 2001
This remake of MY FAVORITE WIFE is the second attempt to make SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE which had to be stopped when Marilyn Monroe died.

The film is cute Doris Day fluff, a classic 1960s romantic romp -- even though the period was much more turbulent than such a movie would indicate. Day and Garner are amusing, but it's the supporting cast that steal the show -- Fred Clark as the snoopy and prim hotel manager, Thelma Ritter as the wisecracking mother/mother-in-law/granny, and especially Edgar Buchanan as a hysterically grumpy judge.

It's dated to its time, but it's fun.
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A fun classic comedy
ComedyFan20101 June 2018
This movie is often compared to the one it remade: My Favorite Wife. Luckily I never saw the original (although now I want to) so I didn't made this comparison and could enjoy the movie on it's own. It is also interesting to know that this movie was supposed to be made with Marilyn Monroe but she died. I actually really liked Doris Day in it and can't really imagine Monroe in it.

The movie is pretty good. I liked the hilarious story and it is full of big names. I haven't seen too many old movies but I could recognize most of them. I loved seeing John Astin, Don Knotts (both before their biggest hits), Fred Clark and Thelma Ritter in it. The actors were very talented and acted in that beautiful old movies style that gives this movie an extra charm.

A lot of slapstick but I ended up laughing a lot, especially in the beginning of the movie where Ellen appears and the whole thing in the hotel goes on.

By the way I looked up who was Maria and oh my god, Rosa Turich was incredibly beautiful when she was younger! This special 20's movie star look.
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Silly but not terrible
HotToastyRag4 February 2018
Famous for being the reboot of Something's Got to Give, the last movie Marilyn Monroe was working on at the time of her death, Move Over, Darling was turned into a fluffy, silly Doris Day movie. She's married to James Garner, but so is Polly Bergan. Needless to say, neither wife is happy about the situation, and the entire film is spent trying to sort things out.

Is James Garner a bigamist? Are you going to not like him in this movie? Thankfully, he's still his likable self, and there's a perfectly logical explanation: Doris Day was lost at sea for five years, and James Garner thought she was dead so he moved on and remarried. There's a very silly scene-although that doesn't really narrow it down-in which James Garner imagines Doris on a tropical island for the past five years, passing the time with a half-naked Chuck Connors. Jealousy runs rampant in this romantic comedy, but if you like fluffy flicks or watching a young James Garner in his swim trunks, you can sit through this one. It's not nearly the worst movie Doris Day made in the 60s, so you'll most likely roll your eyes instead of groan when the end credits roll.
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Brilliant Honeymoon Comedy
Bella24 October 2017
Move On Darling (1963) is a Comedy/Romance starring Doris Day as Ellen Wagstaff Arden and James Garner as Nicolas Arden. Nicholas Arden heads to the courthouse with his fiancé to be married, but before he does so he must get the judge to sign a petition pronouncing his old wife, Ellen Wagstaff Arden as dead. She was lost at sea but was eventually rescued and made her way home just in time for the honeymoon. She follows them to the hotel to ensure that they never consummate it.

This flick has it all- great acting, a darling cast, hilarious scenes throughout that will have you rolling on the floor laughing and a superb plot. Doris Day is stunning and classy. I would recommend this film to all lovers of romantic comedies.
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Doris Day sings a HIT!!!!
Benedito Dias Rodrigues27 September 2017
Althoug l'm not belong of this time the opening song Move Over Darling which is also the name of the movie is great maybe the best song ever sang by Doris Day very touching and pretty!!The movie is delight mainly because Thelma Ritter and Edgar Buchanan whose stolen the show!!


First watch: 2017 / How many: 1 / Source: DVD / Rating: 7
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How might Marilyn have played the role?
James Hitchcock25 September 2017
Warning: Spoilers
"Move Over, Darling", a remake of the 1940 screwball comedy "My Favorite Wife", had a long and difficult journey to the screen. It began life as a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe entitled "Something's Got to Give", to be directed by George Cukor. Before that film was completed, however, Monroe was fired for continually turning up late on set (or, on some occasions, not turning up at all). Lee Remick was provisionally cast as Monroe's replacement, but her co-star Dean Martin refused to work with any actress other than Monroe. Monroe was hired again, but died soon afterwards before production could restart. The studio, 20th Century Fox, had sunk too much money into the project to abandon it altogether, so went ahead with a new director (Michael Gordon), new stars (Doris Day and James Garner) and a new title. (The original title probably seemed inappropriately ironic after Monroe's tragic death).

The plot is very similar to that of "My Favorite Wife", although the story is updated from the forties to the sixties. (Day's character makes a reference to having seen the earlier film as a child, although makes no reference to the strange coincidence that she and her husband have the same names as the characters in that film. The scriptwriter was probably playing games with the normal movie convention whereby remakes take place in a parallel universe in which any previous versions of the same film were never made.

Like "My Favorite Wife", "Move Over, Darling" is loosely based upon Tennyson's "Enoch Arden" (hence the main character's surname). Tennyson's poem was a tragedy, but both films turn the story into a comedy. The film starts with Nick Arden about to get married for the second time. The problem is that he is legally still married to his first wife Ellen. It is presumed that she died in an air crash five years ago, but her body has never been found. The problem seems to have been solved when Nick persuades a Judge to declare Ellen legally dead, leaving him free to marry his new fiancée, Bianca. Ellen, however, is not dead at all, and has spent the last five years marooned on a desert island. Rescued by the Navy, she arrives back in America on the very day of Nick and Bianca's wedding. The film then explores the complications arising from this situation.

One disadvantage of this plot line is that Nick ends up married to two different women at the same time, through no fault either on his part or on theirs. Now no film-maker in 1940 could get away with making a film openly condoning bigamy or a ménage-a-trois, and public attitudes in this respect had not shifted very much by 1963, so one of the women had to lose out. And that woman had to be Bianca; whatever the tangled legalities of the situation might be, the court of American public opinion was always going to rule in favour of Ellen who, as the mother of Nick's children, was going to be seen to have a stronger claim. So how do you make an all-ends-happily comedy when one of your main characters is a woman who, through no fault of her own, loses the love of her life? The solution found in "My Favorite Wife" is to concentrate on Ellen as much as possible and relegate Bianca to the sidelines. Here the solution is to hint subtly that Bianca is not a very nice person, a bit of a man-eater who will doubtless get over her disappointment by throwing herself at the next best man to come along.

Despite its difficult birth, the movie turned out to be a box-office success, justifying Fox's decision to continue with the project after Monroe's death. It is (along with "The Sound of Music") one of the movies credited with keeping the studio afloat after the financial debacle of "Cleopatra". I would certainly prefer it to "My Favorite Wife", which I have always regarded as more cornball than screwball. The earlier film had its humorous moments, but these mostly concerned supporting characters such as the cantankerous old judge and the creepy hotel manager, obsessed with his establishment's respectability. Here the main characters join in the fun; the rivalry between Day's Ellen and Polly Bergen's Bianca has a lot more edge to it than that between the rather treacly Irene Dunne and the anonymous Gail Patrick. I particularly liked the scene where Ellen, posing as a Swedish masseuse, gives her rival an over-vigorous massage which turns into a catfight.

Doris Day's "virginal" reputation was starting to slip a bit by the early sixties; in "Lover Come Back" from two years earlier she had played an unmarried mother. Even in her early forties, however, she still counted as one of America's sweethearts, and a lot of the success of the film owes something to this aspect of her character. She was the sort of actress who could sing a song (as she does in the title song to this movie) containing the line "Make love to me!" and still come across as sweet and wholesome. It would be interesting to speculate how Marilyn would have played the role had "Something's Got to Give" been completed. 7/10
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Doris Day's Worst Movie!
JohnHowardReid17 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
Producers: Martin Melcher, Aaron Rosenberg. Copyright 19 December 1963 by Melcher/Arcola Productions. Released through 20th Century- Fox. New York opening at the Astor: 25 December 1963. U.S. release: December 1963. U.K. release: 8 March 1964. Sydney opening at the Regent. 9,290 feet. 103 minutes.

SYNOPSIS: Successful lawyer Nicholas Arden (James Garner) goes before Judge Bryson (Edgar Buchanan) in Los Angeles with his fiancée, Bianca Steele (Polly Bergen) to: 1) petition the court to declare his former wife, Ellen Arden (Doris Day), legally dead, since she has been missing for five years following an airplane crash in the Pacific; 2) request the court to marry him to Bianca. This done, the newlyweds are happily on their way by car to their honeymoon in Monterey. Meanwhile, at the Naval base at nearby San Pedro, a submarine lands with Ellen, who has been rescued from a desert isle.

NOTES: A re-make of "My Favorite Wife" (1940) starring Cary Grant, Irene Dunne, Randolph Scott and Gail Patrick.

The script was originally refurbished for Marilyn Monroe as "Something's Got To Give".

COMMENT: A mild comedy, rather flatly directed and rather too enthusiastically played, considering the threadbare and overly familiar nature of the material. Doris Day sings two songs of equally forgettable quality. (I'm told that her son Terry Melcher helped out with the composition of the title tune).

OTHER VIEWS: Feeble frolic. — New York Times.

Heavy-handed and fundamentally irrelevant farce sequences are attached to an intrinsically surefire premise. — Variety.

This one is just awful. Oh, Doris Day is just fine. She has a nice comedic style, mugs real good, and is right in there with the fast and slow burns and the double takes, but there's precious little else in this hokey, pretentious razz-ma-tazz. Garner is, let's not mince words, not the best farce man around... Thelma Ritter, Fred Clark and Don Knotts are wasted, but then so was our time. — Robert Salmaggi in the N.Y. Herald Tribune.

A brightly colored mess. Suspense is lost because it would be inconceivable in the Hollywood scheme of things to have the country's No. 1 box office star lose her husband to Polly Bergen (who was unranked in the last exhibitor's poll)... Those with weak stomachs should leave before the scene in which Doris Day and the children admit they belong to each other. — Hollis Alpert in the Saturday Review.
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