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The Marriage-Go-Round

The Marriage-Go-Round(1960)

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teaser The Marriage-Go-Round (1960)

Comedies about illegitimate children and sperm donors weren't the normal Hollywood fare in 1960, but they are the subjects of The Marriage-Go-Round (1961), produced by Twentieth Century-Fox, and starring Susan Hayward, James Mason, and Julie Newmar. In it, Hayward and Mason play Content and Paul Delville, who are happily-married for sixteen years, until their lives are upended when the daughter of one of Mason's university colleagues arrives from Sweden and announces that she wants Mason to be the father of her child, believing that her impressive physique and Mason's brains would produce the perfect baby.

Filmed on location at Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida and Stage 4 on the Twentieth Century-Fox lot, and with a budget of $3,000,000, The Marriage-Go-Round was directed by Fox veteran Walter Lang, and based on the play by Leslie Stevens, who wrote the screenplay and produced the film. Julie Newmar had co-starred in the play on Broadway with Charles Boyer and Claudette Colbert, and won a Featured Dramatic Actress in a Play Tony Award for her performance, with Colbert nominated for Leading Actress in a Play. The Marriage-Go-Round opened at the Plymouth Theater on October 29, 1958 and ran until February 18, 1960 with an impressive 431 performances, but neither Colbert nor Boyer appeared in the film. The change in casting did not phase Newmar, who later called Mason "a darling, seductive man, but his gossip-columnist wife, Pamela, was very jealous - you had to watch for her claws."

When The Marriage-Go-Round was released in January 1961, the normally tough New York Times critic Bosley Crowther was won over, praising the film and the actors, particularly Newmar, who he called, "the most stupendous thing since the invention of women," and deeming both Mason and Hayward "excellent." Not everyone agreed. Time wrote that Mason "could not crack a joke if it were a lychee nut," and called Hayward "a bargain-basement Bette Davis whose lightest touch as a comedienne would stun a horse." Davidson Hanford in Films in Review thought that Mason appeared "to be having a wretched time, more because of Mr. Stevens' dialogue than because of Miss Newmar." In later years, James Mason would agree with Hanford, referring to The Marriage-Go-Round as "another candidate for the incinerator" and "clumsily and heavily directed, the film is as tedious as tasteless. Its approach to sex is hypocritical, sniggering and unfunny. I played my part in a permanent state of embarrassment."

By Lorraine LoBianco

SOURCES:
Crowther Bosley "Screen: Tangle of Libidos: 'Marriage-Go-Round' in Dual Premiere Here" The New York Times 7 Jan 61
Hanford, Davidson Films in Review Feb 1961
The Internet Broadway Database
The Internet Movie Database
McCarthy, Kevin The Book Lover's Guide to Florida
Reid, John Cinemascope Two: 20th Century-Fox
Sweeney, Kevin James Mason: A Bio-Bibliography

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