Directed by: Michael Gordon
Running time: 103 minutes
Theatrical release: December 25, 1963
Move Over, Darling is a remake of the terrific 1940 comedy ďMy Favorite Wife,Ē starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunn. With every remake, filmmakers strive to achieve a fresh take on an old favorite, trying to create an identity of its own all the while paying homage to the original by trying not to ruin its legacy. Move Over, Darling, starring Doris Day and James Garner, accomplishes this feat and more.
Nicholas Arden (Garner) is ready to move on with his life. Itís been five years since his wifeís tragic plane crash. Her body was never recovered, and it now time to have her declared legally deceased, namely because heís set to marry another woman, Bianca Steele (Polly Bergen) and bigamy was in the 1960ís and still is illegal. The film movie opens with Nick and Bianca petitioning Judge Bryson (Edgar Buchanan) to declare Ellen Arden (Day) dead. They also ask him for a marriage license, with the hope to marry that same day. All is seemingly moving according to plan, but unbeknownst to everyone involved is at the exact time Nick and Bianca are moving along with the future, the past sneaks up on them in the form of Ellen, alive and well and freshly rescued by the US Coast Guard.
Obviously, with this film having been shot in the 1960ís, there are no cell phones, internet or wireless communication at Ellenís disposal to prepare her loved ones of her pending arrival, so her appearances to everyone are shocking and exhilarating. Her mother-in-law, Grace Arden, played smartly by the much underrated Thelma Ritter, is the first to see Ellen. After the initial shock, Grace soon realizes the many layers of drama Ellenís return will reveal. Ellen and Nick share two daughters, DiDi and Jenny (Leslie Farrell and Pami Lee); how will she incorporate herself back into their lives? How will Nick handle the obvious impossible situation of being married to two women? What will become of Ellen and Nickís marriage? What will become of Bianca?
Move Over, Darling is filled with some the eraís biggest stars of film and television and the actors deliver. The script is humorous, although a little heavy on the slapstick at times. There are surprising, comical twists that keep you engaged. The supporting cast, including Don Knotts (as the shoe store clerk) and Chuck Connors (Adam) often steal scenes. Visually appealing, the set decoration, locations and fashion is decidedly upscale suburban.
Next to Pillow Talk, Move Over, Darling is my favorite Doris Day film and I highly recommend it for light-hearted romance comedy.
*I viewed this film via my personal DVD collection.