The Opposite Sex
|The Opposite Sex|
|Directed by||David Miller|
|Produced by||Joe Pasternak|
|Screenplay by||Fay Kanin|
|Based on||The Women|
by Clare Boothe Luce
|Narrated by||Ann Sheridan|
|Music by||Nicholas Brodszky|
|Edited by||John McSweeney|
The Opposite Sex is a 1956 American musical romantic comedy film shot in Metrocolor and CinemaScope. The film was directed by David Miller and stars June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Leslie Nielsen, Jeff Richards, Agnes Moorehead, Charlotte Greenwood, Joan Blondell, Sam Levene, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus, Bill Goodwin, and Harry James.
The story concerns Kay Hilliard (June Allyson), a former nightclub singer who discovers her husband Steven (Leslie Nielsen) is having an affair with showgirl Crystal Allen (Joan Collins). Kay is the last to find out among her circle of gossiping girlfriends. Kay travels to Reno to divorce from Steve who then marries Crystal, but when Kay finds out that Crystal isn't true to Steve, she starts fighting to win her ex-husband back.
- June Allyson as Kay Hilliard
- Joan Collins as Crystal Allen
- Dolores Gray as Sylvia Fowler
- Jeff Richards as Buck Winston
- Ann Sheridan as Amanda Penrose
- Ann Miller as Gloria Dell
- Leslie Nielsen as Steven Hilliard
- Agnes Moorehead as Countess Lavaliere
- Charlotte Greenwood as Lucy
- Joan Blondell as Edith Potter
- Sam Levene as Mike Pearl
- Bill Goodwin as Howard Fowler
- Alice Pearce as Olga
- Barbara Jo Allen as Dolly
- Sandy Descher as Debbie Hilliard
- Carolyn Jones as Pat
- Barrie Chase as Specialty Dancer
- Dick Shawn as Psychiatric Patient
- Jim Backus as Psychiatrist
- Alan Marshal as Ted
- Harry James as Himself
- Dean Jones as Backstage Delivery Person
- Leslie Parrish as Leg Model
- Juanita Moore as Powder Room Attendant
Unlike the 1936 play and the 1939 film adaptation, The Opposite Sex includes musical numbers and features male actors who portray the husbands and boyfriends, whose characters were only referred to in the previous film and stage versions. This alters the structure and tone of the base storyline significantly.
Fay Kanin who cowrote the script with her husband Michael said the studio's argument was "you can't play a love scene alone." Michael said the studio "felt the movie audience would be somehow be disappointed at not seeing men in it. After all, a man is a fact."
Fay Kanin thought the "manless world" of the play "was a stunt, an artificial trick, but it was accepted. But in a movie, which has the freedom to go out, the device would seem constrained and self conscious." Michael claimed "we only put in men to relieve the strain - and only when they are called for."
The Kanins gave the story a show business background to help justify it being turned into a musical, but "there are no big production numbers," according to Fay Kanin.
Elaine Stewart was promised Joan Collin's role before filming. Grace Kelly was supposed to have June Allyson's role, but she retired from acting before filming. MGM studio head Dore Schary envisioned Esther Williams in June Allyson's role. According to her 2000 autobiography The Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams objected to Schary's casting suggestion, resulting in her suspension from the studio. Shortly after, on agent Lew Wasserman's advice, she left Metro after 14 years. Eleanor Parker was cast as Kay Hilliard but replaced by June Allyson.
Jo Ann Greer dubbed Allyson's ballad "A Perfect Love".
In November 1955, Joe Pasternak was pursuing Marlene Dietrich and Miriam Hopkins. In December 1955, MGM announced the lead roles would be played by June Allyson, Dolores Gray, Ann Miller (as the husband stealer), and Leslie Nielsen with filming to begin January 16, 1956. In the 1939 version of The Women, actress Lucile Watson was featured in the cast as Mrs. Morehead, the loving, wise, and supportive mother of Norma Shearer's character Mary Haines. For the 1956 version, the role was eliminated, and a new character was created instead - Amanda Penrose, a playwright who served as Kay Hilliard's kind friend confidante. Ann Sheridan was cast in this part.
Barbara Jo Allen had the distinction of being in both the 1939 and 1956 versions - in the first film, she had a small, uncredited part as a receptionist; in the second, she played the gossip columnist Dolly DeHaven.
This was June Allyson's final film for MGM after having worked at the studio for nearly 15 years.
According to MGM records, the film earned $1,735,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $1,025,000 in other markets, resulting in a loss of $1,513,000.
- The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
- Domestic results see "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
- Variety film review; September 19, 1956, page 6.
- Harrison's Reports film review; September 22, 1956, page 151.
- Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2009). Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature. Infobase Publishing. p. 340. ISBN 978-1-438-10910-7.
- Kennedy, Matthew (2007). Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 166. ISBN 978-1-604-73300-6.
- 'Opposite Sex' Being Filmed to Include the Opposite Sex, Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 19 Feb 1956: D2.
- Williams, Esther (2000). The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography. Harvest Books. pp. 266–267. ISBN 0-156-01135-2.
- McClelland, Doug (2001). Eleanor Parker: Woman of a Thousand Faces. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 231. ISBN 0-810-84836-8.
- Drama: Ann Sheridan to Do 'The Opposite Sex' Los Angeles Times 26 Nov 1955: A6.
- Drama: Stellar Array Assured for 'Opposite Sex' Los Angeles Times 9 Dec 1955: B11.
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