What A Way to Go! (1964)

Fox

Director J. Lee Thompson's tedious, bloated, overproduced satire, "What a Way to Go," boasts an all-star cast, headed by Shirley Maclaine, as an eccentric millionairess, and including Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin and others as her husbands.
 
Produced by Arthur Jacobs, the film is penned by Betty Comden and Adolph Green ("Singin' in the Rain," "The Band Wagon"). The film boasts lavish sets, and overwhelming music, alongside Jules Styne songs.
 
MacLaine plays Louisa Benson, a rich, spoiled woman who offers her entire dollar wealth in a check to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. When her offer is rejected, she seeks the help of a psychiatrist named Victor Stephanson (Robert Cummings), telling him her life story through flashbacks.
 
 After rejecting Leonard Crowley (Dean Martin), the richest boy in her town, Louisa weds a happy-go-lucky clerk, Edgar Hopper (Dick Van Dyke), who becomes a rich merchant after Crowley goads him to success by ridiculing his poverty. Edgar works himself to death, and Louisa becomes a rich young widow. She then goes to Paris, where she meets taxi driver Larry Flint (Newman). Wishing to be a modernist artist, Flint invents a machine that can convert sound into oil paintings. He and Louisa marry and all goes well until Louisa feeds classical selections into the machine. As a result, Flint begins building more machines for conversion purposes, using musical excerpts, and becomes an enormously rich artist.
 
Larry, too, gets killed, when he gets entangled in the mechanism of his invention. Richer than ever, Louisa picks Rod Anderson (Robert Mitchum), a millionaire industrialist, as her new hubby. Rod neglects his work for her, but perversely his estate continues to grow. They retire to a farm but Rod is killed by a bull, which he had mistaken for a cow.
 
Husband four is song-and-dance man Pinky Benson (Gene Kelly), whose showbiz career has been a failure. When he switches from an ill-advised clown act to straight comedy he becomes a hit. Pinky becomes a film star but is trampled to death at a premiere by his fans. 
 
When Dr. Stephanson is told on the phone by the IRS that his patient really is worth $200 million, he faints, and Louisa has to revive him. Louisa then marries her first beau, Leonard, now a poor janitor–until oil is discovered on their property. But later,they find out that that it was just a break in the pipeline of a neighboring oil company.
 
Cast
 
Shirley MacLaine
Paul Newman
Robert Mitchum
Dean Martin
Gene Kelly
Bob Cummings
Dick Van Dye
Reginald Gardiner
Margaret Dumont
Lou Nova
Fifi D’Orsay
Maurice Marsac
Wally Vernon
Jane Wald
Lenny Kent
 
Credits
 
A J. Lee Thompson Production.
Produced by Arthur P. Jacobs.
Directed by J. Lee Thompson.
Screenplay by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Based on a story by Gwen Davis.
The songs, “I Think That You and I Should Get Acquainted,” and “Musical Extravaganza,” Lyrics by Betty Comden and Adolph Green.
Music by Jules Styne.
Choreography by Gene Kelly.
Music by Nelson Riddle.
Camera: Leon Shamroy.
Art Direction by Jack Martin Smith and Ted Howarth.
Set Decoration by Walter M. Scott and Stuart A. Reiss.
Special Photographic Effects by L.B. Abbott and Emil Kosa, Jr.
Unit Production Manager, William Eckhardt.
Men’s Wardrobe, Moss Mabry.
Film Editor, Marjorie Fowler.
Assistant to Mr. Kelly, Richard Humphrey.
Dialogue Coach, Leon Charles.
Sound, Bernard Freerich and Elmer Raguse.
Assistant Director, Fred R. Simpson.
Makeup, Ben Nye.
Orchestration, Arthur Morton.
Supervising Hair Stylist, Margaret Donovan.
Miss MacLaine’s Hair Styles, Sydney Guilaroff.
Precious Stones, Harry Winston, Inc.
Gloves, Kislav.
Miss MacLaine’s gowns, Edith Head.
 
Running time: 111 Minutes.