Favorite things about… Designing Woman (1957)

(Image via moviepostershop.com)

The favorite film:
Designing Woman, a 1957 romantic comedy directed by Vincente Minnelli

The synopsis:
Sports writer Mike Hagen has spent a long night out in Los Angeles, drinking and having fun with fellow reporters. When he wakes up, he’s terribly hungover and can’t remember whether he submitted his copy during that wild night. Luckily for Mike, he did submit copy… but it was co-written by fashion designer Marilla, who agreed to help drunk Mike meet his deadline. When Marilla tries to return the money Mike paid her for her help, the two decide to spend the money together, seeing the sights in California. Over the course of their adventure, they fall in love. But a short courtship makes for a complicated marriage when they get hitched and head back to New York.

The cast:

  • Lauren Bacall as Marilla
  • Gregory Peck as Mike
  • Dolores Gray as Lori Shannon
  • Mickey Shaughnessy as Maxie

Fun facts:

  • Lauren Bacall’s role of Marilla was originally intended for Grace Kelly, who was unable to take the role after her marriage to Prince Rainier of Monaco.
  • Peck’s role was intended for Jimmy Stewart — making Designing Woman a would-be reunion Rear Window reunion.
  • TCM reports that Vincente Minnelli gave Gregory Peck his choice of leading ladies, and Peck personally chose Bacall.
  • Though off-screen husband Humphrey Bogart was very ill during production, Bacall remembered the experience of making the film as a positive one. She loved the script and was able to play the role with ease despite her personal turmoil.
  • This was producer Dore Schary’s last film for MGM.
  • George Wells won an Academy Award for his screenplay.
(Image via doctormacro.com)

Favorite things/quotes:

  • Mike: “I was involved in that… ruckus.”
  • Marilla: “Mike doesn’t always tell the truth.”
  • Mike’s aspirin breakfast (and all of the amplified sounds used to emphasize the torture of his hangover)
  • An appearance by none other than Mel Cooley (aka actor Richard Deacon, aka “Larry” in this film)
  • Hungover Mike’s pink-sky view of the world
  • Mike: “I was a new man. My hangover was gone. I felt like singing! I loved the whole world and all its people. I would even, I decided, be nice to that ugly girl who’d been annoying me.” (Sees Marilla…) “Must’ve been a different girl!”
  • Marilla’s love for food, and her two-handed breakfast
  • Mike: “This was just the first in a series of wardrobe changes which never failed to amaze me.”
  • Mike’s celebratory scarf made of shoes and trinkets, courtesy of his co-workers
  • Mike’s head-tossing impression of Marilla’s laugh
  • Mike: “A lady did it. BORROW THE PANTS.”
  • Marilla’s glam apartment
  • Marilla losing it at the fight. I feel you, girl. That sport is too much for me, too, haha.
  • The split poker party/”show people” party
  • The “poker loaf” — so repulsive, so ’50s!
  • Mike: “I don’t know a good psychiatrist, but if I did, I might visit him myself after this evening!”
  • Mike’s impression of Randy’s dancing
  • The fashion show of Marilla’s stunning designs (actually created by Helen Rose)
  • Marilla calling Lori “one in the same spiller”
  • The zoom on Marilla’s face when she realizes Lori is the girl from the picture she found in Mike’s apartment
  • Mike: “What’s for dinner?”
    Marilla: “LORI SHANNON!!!”
    Mike: “For dinner?!?!”
  • Marilla: “Is that the big secret? You’re going to follow the Yankees?”
    Mike: “Yep. They shouldn’t know about it.”
  • The scene where Mike thinks Maxie is dead because he sleeps with his eyes open
  • Lori’s adorable, jumping, foot-biting poodle
  • Marilla: “I wouldn’t have cared if only you told me! ‘How do you DO, Miss Shannon?’ UGH!”
  • Mike’s shoe flying out the window and hitting a car
  • Marilla and Lori’s big but anti-climactic confrontation (Lori talks some sense into Marilla)
  • The big alleyway brawl and Randy winning it with dance!
  • Marilla: “Lori was right. It was a real dilly.”

2 thoughts on “Favorite things about… Designing Woman (1957)

  1. I’ve never seen this movie (but now I want to, thanks to this post), and I’m not knocking Bacall’s performance, but just imagine how cool it would’ve been to see Peck and Grace Kelly in a romantic comedy like this one! It’s sad to think about all the roles Grace lost because she got married to a prince. And do you think Vincente Minnelli would’ve put his foot down if Peck had picked Ellen Corby as his leading lady?

    Good lord, I just checked: I OWN this movie, in a TCM 4-pack! I guess that means I’ll be watching it soon!


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