Designing Woman

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This article is about the 1957 film. For the 1934 film, see Designing Women (film). For the television series, see Designing Women.
Designing Woman
Designing woman.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vincente Minnelli
Produced by Dore Schary
Written by George Wells
Starring Lauren Bacall
Gregory Peck
Dolores Gray
Narrated by Lauren Bacall
Gregory Peck
Music by Billy Higgins
André Previn
W. Benton Overstreet
Cinematography John Alton
Edited by Adrienne Fazan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • May 16, 1957 (1957-05-16)
Running time
118 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,844,000[1]
Box office $3,750,000[1]

Designing Woman is a 1957 romantic comedy about fashion.[2][3] Vincente Minnelli directed stars Lauren Bacall and Gregory Peck. George Wells won an Academy Award for the screenplay.

Plot[edit]

While on vacation, sports reporter Mike Hagen (Gregory Peck) meets fashion designer Marilla Brown (Lauren Bacall). The two instantly bond and quickly get married, only to realize they have little in common.

Mike is a sportswriter and poker enthusiast with working-class friends. Marilla designs clothes for a wide array of artistic personalities. Their friends clash memorably one Wednesday night when his Poker Club and her Drama Society both convene at Marilla's apartment.

Marilla becomes suspicious of Mike after she finds a photograph of Lori Shannon (Dolores Gray), Mike's former girlfriend. Mike tries to hide his former relationship, but fails miserably. Complicating matters even further is Mike's continuing series of exposés of the activities of crooked boxing promoter Martin Daylor (Edward Platt). Mike's life is in danger, but he hides that from his wife too. What results is a series of misunderstandings and mishaps.

Cast[edit]

One of the supporting actors was the famed choreographer Jack Cole.

Background[edit]

The original concept for the film reportedly came from Helen Rose, who designed dozens of gowns and dresses for Bacall for Designing Woman. She gives an interview / screen test in the DVD's special features.

Lauren Bacall was dealing with husband Humphrey Bogart's eventually-fatal illness during the shooting. According to her autobiography, she took the role (which was originally intended for Grace Kelly) in order to avoid her home situation, but in interviews she said that this film was among her favorites, and that she desperately wanted the part, even accepting a lower salary. She said that Grace Kelly considered the part to have been written for her, and would never forgive Bacall, adding "She got the prince, I got the part".[4]

Bogart died January 14, 1957, four months before the film's release.

Both James Stewart and Cary Grant turned down the role that went to Peck (Grant citing the heavy drinking of the character as the main reason).

Box Office[edit]

According to MGM records the film earned $2,175,000 in the US and Canada and $1,575,000 elsewhere resulting in a small loss of $136,000.[1]

Reception[edit]

The movie ended up being one of both Bacall and Peck's more successful films both critically[5] and commercially, with Bosley Crowther of the New York Times comparing the leading couple with Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy and proclaiming, "(the film) obviously endeavors to generate the same kind of verve and general sardonic humor as flowed from that older comedy team. It does, too — at least, in certain stretches."[6]

As for modern reviews, website Rottentomatoes.com has given Designing Woman an overall positive note, regarding it 72 percent "fresh" as opposed to "rotten",[5] while the website Allmovie.com gives it two and a half stars out of five, crediting Bacall for giving a "sparkling comic performance".[7]

DVDverdict.com proclaims the comedy as "shiny, polished, and entertaining" and states that "it has held its value well over the years."[8]

Awards and nominations[edit]

  • Academy Award for Best Writing, Story and Screenplay - Written Directly for the Screen (George Wells) - won
  • Laurel Award for Top Female Comedy Performance (Lauren Bacall) - 3rd place
  • Laurel Award for Top Comedy - fifth place
  • Writers Guild of America's WGA Award for Best Written American Comedy - nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study .
  2. ^ Variety film review; March 13, 1957, page 6.
  3. ^ Harrison's Reports film review; March 16, 1957, page 43.
  4. ^ Guardian newspaper - Bacall: 14 of her best quotes, 1 August 2014
  5. ^ a b "Rotten Tomatoes reviews". rottentomatoes.com. 
  6. ^ Dargis, Manohla (May 17, 1957). "The Screen: 'Designing Woman' Bows; Gregory Peck; Lauren Bacall Are Stars". New York Times. Retrieved May 1, 2010. 
  7. ^ "allmovie review". allmovie.com. 
  8. ^ "DVD Verdict review". dvdverdict.com. 

External links[edit]