Move Over, Darling

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Move Over, Darling
Move Over Darling - Poster.jpg
1963 Theatrical poster
Directed byMichael Gordon
Produced byMartin Melcher
Aaron Rosenberg
Written byBella Spewack
Sam Spewack

Leo McCarey
Hal Kanter
Jack Sher
StarringDoris Day
James Garner
Polly Bergen
Thelma Ritter
Don Knotts
Chuck Connors
Edgar Buchanan
Music byLionel Newman
CinematographyDaniel L. Fapp
Edited byRobert L. Simpson
Melcher-Arcola Productions
Distributed byTwentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
Release date
  • December 25, 1963 (1963-12-25)
Running time
103 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$12,705,882[2]

Move Over, Darling is a 1963 American DeLuxe Color comedy film starring Doris Day, James Garner, and Polly Bergen and directed by Michael Gordon. The CinemaScope picture was a remake of a 1940 screwball comedy film, My Favorite Wife, with Irene Dunne, Cary Grant and Gail Patrick. In between these movies, an unfinished version, entitled Something's Got to Give, began shooting in 1962, directed by George Cukor and starring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin; Monroe was fired from production due to her chronic lateness but then later rehired, before ultimately dying prior to the film's completion.

Move Over, Darling was chosen as the 1964 Royal Film Performance, and had its UK premiere on 24 February 1964 at the Odeon Leicester Square in the presence of H.R.H. Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh.

At the 21st Golden Globe Awards, Doris Day was nominated for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical but lost to Shirley MacLaine in Irma la Douce.


A couple on an airline trip are in trouble when the plane crashes into the ocean. The husband Nick Arden (James Garner) survives the crash, but his wife Ellen Wagstaff Arden (Doris Day) is never found and declared lost at sea. The couple have two young daughters, Jenny and Didi.

After five years of searching Nick decides it is time to move on with his life. He has her declared legally dead so he can marry Bianca (Polly Bergen), all on the same day. However, Ellen is alive; she is rescued and returns home that particular day. At first crestfallen, she is relieved to discover from her mother-in-law Grace (Thelma Ritter) that her ('ex') husband's honeymoon has not yet started.

When Nick is confronted by Ellen, he eventually clears things up with Bianca, but he then learns the entire time Ellen was stranded on the island, she was there with another man, the handsome, athletic Stephen Burkett (Chuck Connors) – and that they called each other "Adam" and "Eve."

Nick's mother has him arrested for bigamy. All parties appear before the same judge who had married Nick and Bianca earlier that day. Bianca and Ellen request divorces before the judge sends them all away. Bianca leaves Nick, while Ellen storms out, still married to Nick, declared alive again. Ellen returns to Nick's house unsure if her children will recognize her. Her children welcome her home, and so does Nick.


Production notes[edit]

The film's script was written by Hal Kanter and Jack Sher, reworking an earlier script written by Arnold Schulman, Nunnally Johnson and Walter Bernstein, which was an update of the 1940 My Favorite Wife by Leo McCarey and Samuel and Bella Spewack (The 1940 film is referenced by Ellen while she is giving Bianca a massage). The story is a comedic update of the 1864 poem "Enoch Arden" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, hence the lead characters' last name. This was the seventh film version based on the Lord Tennyson poem.

The film was originally to be a comeback vehicle for Marilyn Monroe, under the working title of Something's Got to Give. Dean Martin was cast as Nick Arden after initial choice James Garner was committed to doing The Great Escape.[3] The director was George Cukor. Monroe was fired early in its production cycle for often not showing up for shooting, ultimately appearing in only about 30 minutes of usable film. At first, it was announced Lee Remick would step in Monroe's place, and press pictures were released along with some film being shot with Remick, but Martin balked at working with anyone else. Monroe was re-hired but died before she could resume filming, and that version was never completed. Unable to complete the movie, and having already sunk a considerable amount of money into the production and sets, 20th Century Fox went ahead with the project, albeit with a new title, new director Michael Gordon, and a new cast (with the exception of Thelma Ritter, who was also cast as Grace Arden in the Cukor version).

James Garner accidentally broke Day's rib during the massage scene when he pulls her off of Bergen. He was not aware of what had happened until the next day, when he felt the bandage while putting his arms around Day.

The film utilizes most of the interiors and stage-built "exteriors" from the original Cukor production for the Arden home (which were based on Cukor's actual Beverly Hills home at 9166 Cordell Drive, and built at enormous expense). The on-location exteriors for the Arden home for the Gordon production were filmed about three miles west, at 377 South Mapleton Drive in Holmby Hills. The original neoclassical house seen in the film has since been replaced by an enormous Italianate structure.

The producers scheduled the scene with Doris Day riding through a car wash for the last day of shooting because they feared the chemicals in the detergents might affect her complexion. When the scene went off without a hitch, they admitted their ploy to Day, then used the story in promotional materials for the film.

Box office and reception[edit]

Box office[edit]

The movie grossed $12,705,882 in the United States,[2] becoming one of the biggest hits of the year and helped to keep 20th Century Fox afloat after Cleopatra. It earned $6 million in US theatrical rentals.[4]

According to Fox records, the film needed to earn $8,300,000 in film rentals to break even and made $8,750,000, meaning it made money.[5]


The film has received generally mixed reviews from critics. In 1962, the Variety review stated: "Doris Day and James Garner play it to the hilt, comically, dramatically and last, but not least (particularly in the case of the former), athletically. What is missing in their portrayals is a light touch, the ability to humorously convey with a subtle eyelash-bat or eyebrow-arch what it tends to take them a kick in the shins to accomplish." [6]

However, contemporary reviews have been more positive. David Nusair, of Reel Film Reviews, particularly praised James Garner’s performance, [7] whilst Sue Heal of the RadioTimes gave the film 4/5 stars stating: "Slick, utterly professional and without a wasted scene, this is a sheer delight from start to finish." [8]

Soundtrack music[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Solomon, Aubrey. Twentieth Century Fox: A Corporate and Financial History (The Scarecrow Filmmakers Series). Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 1989. ISBN 978-0-8108-4244-1. p253
  2. ^ a b Box Office Information for Move Over, Darling. The Numbers. Retrieved September 5, 2013.
  3. ^ Garner, James, and Winokur, Jon. The Garner Files: A Memoir Simon & Schuster; (November 1, 2011)
  4. ^ Solomon p 229. Please note figures are rentals.
  5. ^ Silverman, Stephen M (1988). The Fox that got away : the last days of the Zanuck dynasty at Twentieth Century-Fox. L. Stuart. p. 323.
  6. ^ "Move Over, Darling". Variety. December 31, 1962. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  7. ^ "Move Over Darling 1963". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  8. ^ Sue Heal. "Move Over, Darling". RadioTimes. Retrieved December 21, 2018.
  9. ^

External links[edit]