Sunday, December 13, 2009

1960 - HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS, 1962 - SOMETHING'S GOT TO GIVE, two odd films from George Cukor

Lots of cheesecake in this post.

The director George Cukor got himself mixed up in a couple of odd projects in the early 1960's.

HELLER IN PINK TIGHTS, was Cukor's only western in his long career.  Cukor is way out of his comfort zone with this film.  He usually directed sophisticated comedies and stage adaptations.

The film is about the adventures of a group of touring actors in the wild west.  The film features a blond Sophia Loren and Anthony Quinn as the actor/manager of the company.   This is a very good looking film with careful color control and beautiful photography.  Sophia Loren does better with the comedy aspects of the story than the dramatic scenes.  Quinn is pretty good in his part.

The appeal for Cukor must have been the idea to tell a story about actors and acting.  Cukor always felt his strength was working with actors in his films.  He seemed uncomfortable with the shootouts and fights in the film.

Unfortunately the script doesn't appear to have been carefully figured out in spite of the involvement of Dudley Nichols a writer who had worked with John Ford on some of his best films. Still,  Heller In Pink Tights is a well made entertaining film made and acted by professionals.

SOMETHINGS GOT TO GIVE,  Cukor was unlucky enough to get involved with Marilynn Monroe in what was her final unfinished film.  Monroe had recently had surgery and had dropped a considerable amount of weight, so she looked pretty good.  Unfortunately she was up to her usual erratic behavior. Between her mental and physical health problems she worked worked 12 of the 35 days into the production schedule costing 20th century Fox about 2 million dollars.

Cukor became so exasperated with her behavior that he recommended the studio fire Monroe and replace her with another actress.  Fox instead fired Cukor and gave Monroe a raise.  The plan was to restart the film with a different director in a couple of months.  Instead Monroe died of a drug overdose 2 months later.

Someone got the bright idea to assemble all of the available film into a somewhat coherent story.  The resulting 40 minute film shows that the film world did not lose a comedy masterpiece.  Dean Martin was her costar and he seems OK, but Monroe is pretty bad in her completed scenes.  She's supposed to be the mother of two young children, but her scenes with them look more like she wants to molest them than parent them.

Monroe was a decent comedian but you would find it hard to believe watching this film.  The surviving pieces of this film look like it would have been another bland cookie cutter comedy that Fox made in the early 60's and late 50's, something like Gentlemen Prefer Blonds or How To Marry a Millionaire. George Cukor clearly had his hands full with this mess.

Something's Got To Give is available in 4 parts on Youtube.

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