Move Over, Darling

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Move Over, Darling
Move Over Darling - Poster.jpg
1963 theatrical poster
Directed byMichael Gordon
Written byBella Spewack
Sam Spewack

Leo McCarey
Hal Kanter
Jack Sher
Produced byMartin Melcher
Aaron Rosenberg
StarringDoris Day
James Garner
Polly Bergen
Thelma Ritter
Don Knotts
Chuck Connors
Edgar Buchanan
CinematographyDaniel L. Fapp
Edited byRobert L. Simpson
Music byLionel Newman
Melcher-Arcola Productions
Avernus 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, Dean Martin and Cyd Charisse. The supporting cast of Move Over, Darling features Thelma Ritter, Fred Clark, Don Knotts, Chuck Connors, Edgar Buchanan, Pat Harrington, Jr. and John Astin. Only Ritter had played the same role in Something's Got to Give.

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 that was an update of 1940's My Favorite Wife by Leo McCarey and Samuel and Bella Spewack. The script includes a reference to My Favorite Wife during the scene in which Ellen gives Bianca a massage.

The story is a comedic update of the 1864 poem "Enoch Arden" by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and the poem's title is the source of the lead characters' surname. This was the seventh film based on "Enoch Arden".

The film was originally to be a vehicle for Marilyn Monroe under the working title of Something's Got to Give, with George Cukor as director. Dean Martin was cast as Nick Arden after initial choice James Garner was committed to doing The Great Escape.[3] Monroe was fired early in the original production cycle following repeated absences on filming days, ultimately appearing in only about 30 minutes of usable film. At first, it was announced that Lee Remick would step into Monroe's place; though some press pictures were released and some scenes were shot with Remick, Martin balked at working with anyone but Monroe. Monroe was rehired but died before she could resume filming, leaving the original version incomplete. Unable to complete the film, 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). Garner, now available following the completion of his work in The Great Escape, was cast as Nick Arden.

Garner accidentally broke Day's rib during the massage scene in which he pulls Day 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 utilized most of the interiors and stage-built exteriors from the original Cukor production for the Arden home, which was based on Cukor's Beverly Hills home. The on-location exterior scenes at the Arden home 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 Day riding through a car wash for the last day of shooting because they feared that 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[edit]

The film grossed $12,705,882 in the United States,[2] becoming one of the biggest hits of the year and helping keep 20th Century Fox afloat after the losses it had incurred in the making of Cleopatra. Move Over, Darling earned $6 million in U.S. theatrical rentals.[4]

According to Fox records, the film was profitable, as it earned $8,750,000, exceeding the $8,300,000 needed in order to break even.[5]


The film has received generally mixed reviews from critics. In 1963, a review in Variety 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, more recent reviews have been more positive. David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews praised James Garner’s performance[7] and Sue Heal of Radio Times gave the film four out of five stars, stating: "Slick, utterly professional and without a wasted scene, this is a sheer delight from start to finish."[8]



Slightly in advance of the film's release, as was the custom of the era, a paperback novelization of the film was published by Dell Books. The author was renowned crime and western novelist Marvin H. Albert, who also made something of a cottage industry out of movie tie-ins. He seems to have been the most prolific screenplay novelizer of the late '50s through mid '60s, and, during that time, the preeminent specialist at light comedy. The book can be classified as an "inferred novelization" as none of the screenwriters is given attribution, but the copyright is assigned to Twentieth Century Fox. The cover displays a painting of Garner carrying Day in his arms against an all-white background, a typical Dell cover to a romantic comedy tie-in. The book also contains a four-page insert of black-and-white movie stills. The cover price is 40¢.

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]