Love Is a Ball
|Love Is a Ball|
Hope Lange and Glenn Ford on the soundtrack album cover
|Directed by||David Swift|
|Produced by||Martin Poll|
|Written by||David Swift
|Based on||novel The Grand Duke and Mr. Pimm by Lindsay Hardy|
|Music by||Michel Legrand|
|Edited by||Cathy Kelber
|Distributed by||United Artists|
Etienne Pimm (Charles Boyer) has an unusual way of making a living: he arranges for impoverished European aristocrats to marry unsuspecting rich women. He is then discreetly compensated for his efforts by the husbands. His latest target is Millicent "Milly" Mehaffey (Hope Lange), newly arrived on the Riviera. Pimm and his assistant Janine (Ulla Jacobsson) begin grooming the penniless Grand Duke Gaspard Ducluzeau (Ricardo Montalban) for Milly, hiring Julian Soames (John Wood) to teach him manners and English. As their target fancies herself a race car driver, Pimm recruits John Lathrop Davis (Glenn Ford), a (retired) champion many times over, to teach Gaspard to drive.
Pimm "accidentally" meets Milly's uncle and guardian, Dr. Christian Gump (Telly Savalas, cast against type as a cultured gourmet) and invites him to a dinner prepared by his personal, world-renowned chef, Maurice Zoltan (André Luguet). Gump cannot resist. After dinner, he is introduced to the handsome young duke, well prepared after weeks of intensive training. As Pimm had hoped, Gump begs him to bring the duke to a party he has arranged for Milly, confiding that he hopes they fall in love and that his troublesome ward will settle down.
Meanwhile, Priory (Laurence Hardy), another of Pimm's minions, has gotten himself hired as the chauffeur, to spy on the family. When a polo ball hit by Gaspard breaks Priory's arm, a reluctant Davis takes his place. Davis is openly contemptuous of Milly's unrealistic plan to compete in the International Grand Prix, causing clashes with his spoiled employer. As they spend more time together though, her initial dislike turns into love.
With the romance between Milly and Gaspard not proceeding very well, Pimm suggests to Milly that the young couple spend a romantic night together at his private villa. She takes him up on his offer, only with Davis, not Gaspard.
The next morning, Milly learns the truth and is at first outraged, even though Pimm confesses that Davis was not the intended groom. For revenge, she decides to marry an oafish suitor named Freddie (Jean Parédès). However, on her wedding day, her wise grandmother (Ruth McDevitt) convinces her to reconcile with Davis. This is just fine with Gaspard, as he has fallen for Janine.
- Glenn Ford as John Lathrop Davis
- Hope Lange as Millicent "Millie" Mehaffey
- Charles Boyer as Etienne Pimm
- Ricardo Montalban as Duke Gaspard Ducluzeau
- Telly Savalas as Dr. Christian Gump
- Ruth McDevitt as Mathilda
- Ulla Jacobsson as Janine
- Georgette Anys as Mme. Gallou
- Robert Bettoni as Milkman
- Mony Dalmès as Mme. Fernier
- Laurence Hardy as Priory
- Jean Le Maitre as Carlo
- André Luguet as Maurice Zoltan
- Jean Parédès as Freddie
- Redmond Phillips as Starcy
- Erika Soucy as Gretl
- Aram Stephan as Gallou
- Olga Valéry as Mme. Giardin
- John Wood as Julian Soames
- Jean-Pierre Zola as Mueller
The novel was published in 1959. Rights were bought by Martin H. Poll of Gold Medal Enterprises; Poll owned Gold Medal Studios in the Bronx, facilities which were hired out to movie makers. He had decided to move into film production. The screenplay was originally written by the author of the novel.
Blake Edwards was originally attached to direct. Glenn Ford and Hope Lange were signed to star early on. Eventually David Swift came in to write and direct. Ulla Jacobsson signed to make her American debut with the film.
The film had its world premiere at Las Vegas.
Bosley Crowther, critic for The New York Times, panned it, writing that "If 'Love Is a Ball,' somebody fumbled." He found it "predictable nearly every step of the way" and "laboriously arch in tone, broadly played in general and directed with slapdash aimlessness by Mr. Swift." He noted that the "sun-kissed scenery, though, should set anyone drooling". He mentioned the "determined, good-natured attitude of a game cast headed by Glenn Ford, Hope Lange and Charles Boyer", and in particular found Montalban and Jacobsson "entirely disarming."
- Bosley Crowther (April 25, 1963). "Screen: 'Magnificent Sinner' Opens:Czar Alexander Tale Is at the Victoria 'Love Is a Ball' Comes to Astor Theater Comedy on the Riviera". The New York Times.
- Robert Daley (October 4, 1959). "Old-Style Matchmaker: The Grand Duke and Mr. Pimm. By Lindsay Hardy. 256 pp. New York: Harper & Bros. $3.50.". The New York Times.
- A. H. Weiler (May 15, 1960). "Local Film Panorama: New Gold Medal Company to Produce Here -- U.S. 'Pied Piper' -- Addenda". The New York Times.
- Philip K. Scheuer (August 11, 1961). "Vertical Producer Named Marty Here: He Bought a Studio to Make Pictures, Then Rented It Out". Los Angeles Times.
- Philip K. Scheuer (September 18, 1961). "Britons in 'Fool'; Barbara Eden Set: Columbia Snubs Local Pup; Widow Urges Movie Clubs". Los Angeles Times.
- Hedda Hopper (October 10, 1961). "Elizabeth Taylor to Do 'Gouffe Case': Fisher Will Produce at Watners; Steiger, Mineo Named as Team". Los Angeles Times.
- "'Arms and the Man' to Open Here Today". The New York Times. February 23, 1962.
- "New Comedy Filmed on French Riviera". Los Angeles Times. February 22, 1963.
- Harry Mines (May 13, 1962). "'Pimm' on the Riviera: Manufactured Mansion Starry-Eyed". The New York Times.
- Richard L. Coe (February 24, 1963). "At Times, a Star Must Be Himself". The Washington Post.
- John L. Scott (March 8, 1963). "'Love Is a Ball': Las Vegas Setting for Gala Premiere". Los Angeles Times.