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The High Cost of Loving (1958), according to a review in Variety at the time of the movie's release, includes "the costs of installment buying, prospective parenthood and, most expensive of all, the toll in man's serenity in a world of super-corporate operation where the individual is an ever increasingly minor cog." Director Jose Ferrer, who also takes on the leading role of Jim Fry, puts a satirical spin on the price paid for 1950s married life. The middle-aged Fry is reacting with paranoia to the fact that his small company has been bought by a conglomerate - just as his wife (Gena Rowlands) informs him that she may be pregnant. Ferrer sets the tone of the couple's existence in an opening scene comprised of 10 minutes of utter silence as the Frys begin a typical working day, bathing, dressing and eating breakfast like speechless sleepwalkers.
MGM's The High Cost of Loving was one of a series of five 1950s films in which Ferrer performed double duty as both director and star. The others were The Shrike (1955), The Cockleshell Heroes (1956), The Great Man (1957) and I Accuse! (1958). Ferrer's theater training led him to approach his directing work in films much as he would in a play, conducting extensive rehearsals in the large living room of the home he shared with then-wife Rosemary Clooney. "These rehearsals began about 10 days before the shooting started," The Great Man co-star Julie London explained. "The furniture was arranged to represent the studio set. As the shooting schedules were short, these rehearsals saved an enormous amount of time."
The High Cost of Loving marked the film debut of Gena Rowlands, then a 24-year-old leading lady fresh from Broadway. She had just enjoyed a great stage success in The Middle of the Night - although her role in the 1959 film version of that Paddy Chayefsky drama went to Kim Novak. Rowlands' film breakthrough as an outstanding dramatic actress came a decade later in Faces (1968), directed by her husband, John Cassavetes. Under his guidance, she won two Oscar® nominations, for A Woman Under the Influence (1974) and Gloria (1980), plus a Berlin Film Festival Best Actress award for Opening Night (1978). She remains active in film and television work, appearing most recently in the TV movie What If God Were the Sun (2007). She was also used as voice talent for the English language version of the acclaimed animated feature, Persepolis (2007).
Producer: Milo O. Frank, Jr.
Director: Jose Ferrer
Screenplay: Alford Van Ronkel, Milo O. Frank, Jr. (story)
Art Direction: Randall Duell, William A. Horning
Cinematography: George J. Folsey
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Editing: Ferris Webster
Original Music: Jeff Alexander
Cast: Jose Ferrer (Jim Fry), Joanne Gilbert (Syd Hayward), Jim Backus (Paul Mason), Gena Rowlands (Jenny Fry), Bobby Troup (Steve Hayward), Philip Ober (Herb Zorn).
BW-88m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe