powered by AFI
By the late 1950s, Hollywood's romantic comedies were getting a little more titillating. Sexual activity had always been slyly implied in films. It still could not be shown, of course, but now the innuendo could be more overt, and the "S" word could actually be spoken on-screen. It Started with a Kiss (1959) is a typical sex comedy of its era that has a "when will they end up in bed?" scenario as its main theme. Glenn Ford and Debbie Reynolds meet cute, kiss quickly, and marry in a hurry. He's in the Air Force, and they take off for his posting in Spain with an expensive new car he's won in a raffle. Practical Debbie worries that theirs is just a physical attraction, and decides to test their love by not having sex with him for a month.
Sex, love, and marriage were very much on the minds of the stars during the making of It Started with a Kiss. Reynolds' supposed "fairytale marriage" to crooner Eddie Fisher had just ended when he dumped her for Elizabeth Taylor. It was one of the great tabloid scandals of the era. Reynolds reluctantly left her two young children to go on location in Spain for the film. But the distance, the work, and her co-stars turned out to be just what she needed to take her mind off her troubles. Glenn Ford's marriage to dancer Eleanor Powell had also ended, and Ford and Reynolds consoled each other. They began dating, and Reynolds says Ford proposed, but she wasn't ready to get involved. Nevertheless, they became and remained good friends.
Reynolds recalls in her memoirs that her costar, sexual free spirit Eva Gabor, took Debbie under her wing and gave her riotous lessons on how to be sexy. Gabor would soon be embroiled in her own romantic scandal. Gabor had become engaged to a New York stockbroker, Richard Brown. Before he got involved with Gabor, Brown had broken off a relationship with a model. Shortly after the film company returned from Spain, the model committed suicide, leaving a note which said she could not go on without Brown. Although Gabor had nothing to do with Brown ending his previous affair, the tabloid headlines called Gabor a "love pirate." Gabor married Brown later that year. They divorced in 1972.
All of this publicity only helped It Started with a Kiss at the box office. Also part of the publicity machine was the promotional tie-in with the car in the film, a $40,000 Lincoln Futura, dubbed "the car of tomorrow." Reynolds and the car made the cover of Life magazine. And it didn't hurt, either, that critics actually liked the film. Variety called It Started with a Kiss "highly amusing," and praised Reynolds' "bright, breezy approach to comedy that puts her just about in a class by herself." Reynolds' and Ford's private lives might have been a shambles, but their careers had never been better. Ford ended 1959 as one of the year's top five box-office stars.
Producer: Aaron Rosenberg
Director: George Marshall
Screenplay: Charles Lederer, based on a story by Valentine Davies
Editor: John McSweeney, Jr.
Cinematography: Robert Bronner
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: Hans Peters, Urie McCleary
Music: Jeff Alexander
Principal Cast: Glenn Ford (Sgt. Joe Fitzpatrick), Debbie Reynolds (Maggie), Eva Gabor (Marquesa de la Rey), Gustavo Rojo (Antonio Soriano), Fred Clark (Gen. O'Connell), Edgar Buchanan (Congressman Tappe), Harry Morgan (Charles Meriden), Robert Warwick (Congressman Muir).
C-100m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri