What A Way To Go! (1964) January 10, 2016 00:07
What A Way To Go! offers another early, but once again, brief un-credited appearance of the lovely Barbara Bouchet. But it's once again a film jam packed with A-list actors of the 1960's. Shirley MacLaine stars as Louisa a small town country girl whose pressured most of her young life to meet and marry someone rich, take local Crawley's department store tycoon Leonard Crawley (Dean Martin) for example. But Lousia isn't concerned with money, she's focused on love, something she has absolutely none of for Leonard. She ends up going against her mother's wishes and marrying the local town loser Edgar Hopper (Dick Van Dyke) who owns a small store but only runs it a couple hours a week. With Edgar she feels she's guaranteed the simple life, which is all she really wants, but she's soon going to find out she's cursed and that the simple life doesn't want her.
After an occasion of being embarrassed in front of Lousia regarding their poverty, Edgar turns a new leaf and sets out to makes something of himself. He starts working full days and overtime at the store and soon not only puts Crawley's out of business but turns his previously puny store into the most successful department store in town. This only reminds Louisa of why she didn't want money, it corrupts, and Edgar's overworking not only kills their relationship but eventually kills him. Louisa's left with a nice sum of money and this vicious cycle continues with three more husbands played by Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, and Gene Kelly, all relatively sane and simple men until Luisa unknowingly sends them on a path that leads them to an untimely death and leaves her with an estate worth millions. At her wits end she'll try anything to rid herself of the cursed money that keeps finding it's way into her hands, even if it means giving it to the IRS, but even they won't take it!
What A Way To Go! is an interesting menage of comedy, romance and musical, very glitzy, very gaudy, very 60's. My enjoyment of the film was limited to the off-the-wall performances of the leading men. As with A Global Affair, I haven't been exposed much to some of the greats of the golden era of Hollywood so it was entertaining to finally get a chance to see some of them, especially in roles that are probably a little out of their norm (especially for Paul Newman). MacLaine is good as well, but something about her slightly grades on my nerves, possibly it was her character and the film's repetitious nature.
As for Barbara Bouchet her role is even briefer than her appearance in A Global Affair, but at the same time she's given a more substantial un-credited role as her unnamed character actually is the main focus of the scene, whereas she was a background extra in A Global Affair. She plays a party girl in Shirley MacLaine's dream sequence which entails what she imagines Robert Mitchum's character does on his exclusive 747 airliner. Mitchum is surrounded by about twenty girls in bikini's who have their hands all over him as he's stretched out over a table. Bouchet comes over, plants a big kiss on him and he replies with "What are you doing after the orgy?" She laughs, and the scene ends. While it's a extremely small bit part, it's definitely an improvement over a background character.
Overall, What A Way To Go! is an interesting pairing of some of Hollywood's classic actors, and possibly worth a look for that reason. I wasn't too impressed with the story but did like the fact they brought it full circle so the ending related back to the beginning. Anyone whose a fan of Shirley MacLaine will surely want to check this out, she goes through more outfits and wigs than anyone I've seen in any film before. But in the end it's a rather tiresome, repetitious and at times extremely corny mid 1960's comedy.