Friday 6 October 2017

Movie Review: Move Over, Darling (1963)

A lame bedroom comedy, Move Over, Darling over-stretches a flimsy premise to excruciating extremes.

In the courtroom of eccentric Judge Bryson (Edgar Buchanan), lawyer Nick Arden (James Garner) applies to have his wife Ellen declared dead. She has been missing for five years after her flight ditched in the Pacific Ocean. Bryson agrees, and Nick immediately marries his new sweetheart Bianca (Polly Bergen).

As soon as Nick and Bianca set out on their honeymoon, Ellen (Doris Day) reappears, having been rescued off an island by the Navy. She reconnects with her two daughters and her mother-in-law Grace (Thelma Ritter), and chases after Nick and Bianca at their Monterey Hotel. Nick is shocked but also happy to see his wife again, but is also very reluctant to break the news to his new bride Bianca.

Directed by Michael Gordon, Move Over, Darling is the salvaged remains of Something's Got To Give, after that troubled production was abandoned following Marilyn Monroe's death. Day eventually replaced Monroe, Garner stepped in when Dean Martin wisely stepped aside, and Gordon took over the reins from George Cukor. None of them need to have bothered. A re-imagining of 1940's Too Many HusbandsMove Over, Darling is bereft of laughs, strains to no avail, and chews away at a single idea long after all the juice is gone.

The film's central conflict can be resolved within minutes of Ellen's unexpected reappearance, but Nick artificially and repeatedly contrives to avoid facing his new facts, and the comedy wilts and dies along with his dithering. No amount of overacting, arm waving or running around can obscure the fact that these are supposedly smart characters acting in an incredibly stupid manner for the sole purpose of prolonging a movie.

Once the one-man-with-two-wives joke is beaten to death, the film introduces a second, even flabbier source of jealousy between Nick and Ellen, this time involving her behaviour while marooned on the island for five years. Again Ellen could resolve her predicament in seconds, but instead this revelation is an excuse for the likes of Don Knotts and Chuck Connors to make appearances in a further series of scenes choking on protracted misunderstandings.

Move Over, Darling is comedy at its worst, flat humour as a toxic byproduct of imbecilic behaviour.

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