Ask Any Girl


1h 41m 1959

Brief Synopsis

A businessman uses scientific research to turn his secretary into the perfect match for his playboy brother.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 May 1959
Production Company
Euterpe, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Ask Any Girl by Winifred Wolfe (New York, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
8,804ft (11 reels)

Synopsis

Determined to find happiness in the big city, twenty-one-year-old Meg Wheeler leaves her small town to move to New York, where moments after arriving her suitcase containing all her clothes is stolen. Chagrined, Meg nevertheless makes her way to the Albemarle Hotel for Women and there joins a host of young, single girls looking for employment and husbands. Meg is quickly befriended by Jeannie Boyden and several other girls who offer her articles of clothing for her first interview the next day. At the interview with a sweater manufacturer, Meg demonstrates woefully inadequate secretarial skills but is hired nevertheless, when owner Mr. Maxwell is taken with how well she looks in a sweater. A few days later at the office, Meg meets handsome and wealthy client Ross Taford, who she begins dating regularly over the next two months. Pleased with Ross's respectful manner, Meg accepts his invitation to his aunt and uncle's cottage upstate. Certain that the chance to meet his family means that Ross is considering proposing, Meg marvels at how simply and quickly her big-city dreams have materialized. Once at the cottage, however, Meg is alarmed to discover that Ross has intentionally avoided mentioning that his relatives are out of town. Shocked by Ross's intentions, Meg flees the cottage and spends a stormy night alone at the train station. The next morning on the train, Meg runs into Ross and Mr. Maxwell. When Ross implies that he and Meg have spent the night together, Mr. Maxwell begins pursuing Meg at work, forcing her resignation. Jeannie arranges for Meg to participate in an advertising trial that her company, Doughton and Doughton, is conducting for a new cigarette, hoping that Meg might parlay this into a full-time job. Meg has a disastrous interview with the company's president, solemn Miles Doughton, proving completely inappropriate for the trial as she does not smoke. Upon leaving Miles's office, Meg accidentally bumps into his partner and brother, Evan, who, captivated by Meg's legs, offers her a job in the product research department over Miles's protests. Over the next several days, Evan teaches Meg how to conduct door-to-door product sampling, but she is disconcerted when one afternoon he insists upon returning alone to continue questioning a particularly attractive female consumer. When Evan fails to show up at work for several days, Miles summons Meg. After Meg tells him of Evan's behavior, Miles advises her that his brother has a reputation as a playboy and warns her not to succumb to Evan's charms. Meg indignantly insists that she is a serious worker, but later that afternoon she is arrested on a morals charge when a brothel in which she is conducting product trials is raided. After Miles bails Meg out, she is placed in the secretarial pool at the office. That night, Meg is asked to leave the Albemarle because of her arrest at the brothel. With no other possibilities, Meg accepts the invitation of housemate Lisa to take an apartment together. Within days, however, Meg learns that Lisa, an aspiring actress, is also a devoted partier. Meanwhile, although Evan has asked Meg out several evenings, she is disappointed that despite his claims of affection, he constantly dozes on their drives to lovers' lane. At work, the statistics-quoting Meg infuriates Miles with her inability to take dictation after her pencils keep breaking and is reassigned to door-to-door trials. Meg's first consumer proves to be Ross, who delightedly believes she has returned to forgive him. When he asks if he can see her again, Meg agrees until he repeats his invitation to the cottage. Upon returning home, Meg finds Lisa in the midst of a party with numerous male actors. After fending off several advances from drunken revelers, Meg spends the night locked in the bathroom. The next morning, Meg informs Lisa that she is moving out, but Lisa claims that Meg is jealous of the male attention she gets. Confused, Meg lunches with Jeannie to seek advice about men. Jeannie acknowledges the difficulties of being a single woman, confessing that her recent engagement to a mediocre man is due to fear of spending her life alone. Later after work, Meg approaches Miles about his theory of selling anything to anyone by appealing to the buyer's subconscious. Admitting that she has fallen for Evan, Meg asks Miles to try his theory out, using her as the "product" to "sell" to Evan. Miles considers that his brother might be more productive if he were married and agrees. Deciding that the first element in their plan must address "product packaging," Miles asks to see Meg's wardrobe, but upon taking him home, Meg finds Lisa has changed the lock, kept her clothes and gotten rid of her other effects. Miles offers to let Meg stay at his and Evan's home, as Evan is out of town. Miles then decides to go through Evan's address book and date each of Evan's girl friends to learn which features appeal to his brother. Soon after, Meg moves into a small apartment that Miles visits regularly to report the result of his dedicated research. Following Miles's advice, Meg begins changing her appearance and makeup, which soon attracts Evan's attention. After gradually undergoing a complete makeover that combines several of Evan's favorite girl friends'traits, Meg succeeds in winning his proposal. Unexpectedly troubled by her success, Meg nevertheless accompanies Evan home to inform Miles, who gives his consent. When Evan realizes that Meg has been in the house before, she and Miles admit to conspiring together in applying Miles's sales theory to Evan. Becoming upset, Meg refuses Evan's proposal and flees. Donning her own makeup and clothes, Meg then contacts Ross and declares that she is now ready to accept his invitation to the cottage. When Jeannie and her friends discover Meg's intentions, they inform Miles. On the train north, Meg has several drinks to bolster her courage, only to inform Ross that for six generations the women in her family have settled for nothing less than marriage, so she must again refuse to go to the cottage. Meanwhile, Miles and Evan board the train and while Miles fights with Ross, Meg confesses to Evan that she has fallen in love with his brother. Noting Miles's furious assault on Ross, Evan suggests his brother loves her too. Soon afterward, Meg and Miles are married.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Adaptation
Release Date
Jun 1959
Premiere Information
New York opening: 21 May 1959
Production Company
Euterpe, Inc.; Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Ask Any Girl by Winifred Wolfe (New York, 1958).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 41m
Sound
Mono (Westrex Recording System)
Color
Color (Metrocolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
2.35 : 1
Film Length
8,804ft (11 reels)

Articles

Ask Any Girl


In 1958, Shirley MacLaine and Gig Young and David Niven were at the top of their game. All three were getting critical raves for their performances in films made that year: Young turned in one of his usual comic gems as Doris Day's boyfriend who loses her to Clark Gable in Teacher's Pet; MacLaine, one of the busiest young actresses in Hollywood, had triumphed in her most challenging role to date, as the vulgar, poignant girl in love with returning soldier Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running; and master farceur David Niven had dazzled critics and audiences in a rare serious role as a retired military man with a secret in Separate Tables.

Late that year, production began on Ask Any Girl (1959), a giddy sex comedy typical of the era that was tailor-made for the talents of the three stars. MacLaine plays a small town girl who moves to New York looking for a job and a husband. She quickly lands a secretarial job, but the husband hunt doesn't go smoothly. Instead, she has to fight off men whose intentions are less than honorable. Her next job is at a market research firm owned by the stuffy Niven and his lothario brother, Young. Falling for Young, she enlists Niven's help to market her as a product that will appeal to his brother. Ask Any Girl was produced by Joe Pasternak, the genial Hungarian who was responsible for some of Hollywood's most successful musicals, first at Universal and later at MGM, where his lush Technicolor musicals and comedies remained popular into the late 1960s. Ask Any Girl continued Pasternak's winning streak.

Shortly after production wrapped, the Academy Awards nominations for 1958 were announced. All three stars of Ask Any Girl were nominated for different movies, Niven for Best Actor, MacLaine for Best Actress, and Young for Best Supporting Actor. Niven was the only one to take home an award, but both MacLaine's and Young's careers received a boost, and so did Ask Any Girl's box office when it opened shortly after the Oscars® were awarded.

Even the critics who dismissed Ask Any Girl as lightweight were won over by the performances. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, who grumbled about MacLaine's "lack of chic" liked Young's style. "He bounces around with the glee of a thoroughly corrupted playboy who knows exactly where his next girl's coming from." The British press singled out Niven. "David Niven, all polish and impeccable timing, makes every gesture tell," according to the Sunday Times. The Evening News agreed. "Niven's easy, polished performance is splendid."

But it was MacLaine who won the lion's share of attention. Variety called her performance "a sheer delight." Time magazine gushed, "She probably possesses beauty, talent and mass appeal in greater degree than any cinema comedienne since Carole Lombard." Three weeks after that review, Time put her on its cover, a sure sign that MacLaine had arrived. Noting her unconventional lifestyle and offbeat looks, the article proclaimed, "Expert Hollywood status seekers consider her so far out that she is in, way in. Shirley, at 25, is the brightest face, the freshest character and the most versatile new talent in Hollywood...Her latest movie, Ask Any Girl, is climbing to the top of the box office totem pole largely because of her enchanting performance in a second-rate story."

MacLaine won the Silver Bear as best foreign actress for Ask Any Girl at the Berlin Film Festival, and best foreign actress at the British Film Awards. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe as best actress in a comedy or musical. Her Oscar® for Best Actress finally came four more nominations and 25 years later, for Terms of Endearment (1983).

Director: Charles Walters
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Screenplay: George Wells, based on the novel by Winifred Wolfe
Cinematography: Robert Bronner
Editor: John McSweeney, Jr.
Costume Design: Helen Rose
Art Direction: William A. Horning, Urie McCleary
Music: Jeff Alexander
Cast: David Niven (Miles Doughton), Shirley MacLaine (Meg Wheeler), Gig Young (Evan Doughton), Rod Taylor (Ross Tayford), Jim Backus (Mr. Maxwell), Claire Kelly (Lisa), Elisabeth Fraser (Jennie Boyden), Dody Heath (Terri Richards), Read Morgan (Bert).
BW-99m. Letterboxed.

by Margarita Landazuri
Ask Any Girl

Ask Any Girl

In 1958, Shirley MacLaine and Gig Young and David Niven were at the top of their game. All three were getting critical raves for their performances in films made that year: Young turned in one of his usual comic gems as Doris Day's boyfriend who loses her to Clark Gable in Teacher's Pet; MacLaine, one of the busiest young actresses in Hollywood, had triumphed in her most challenging role to date, as the vulgar, poignant girl in love with returning soldier Frank Sinatra in Some Came Running; and master farceur David Niven had dazzled critics and audiences in a rare serious role as a retired military man with a secret in Separate Tables. Late that year, production began on Ask Any Girl (1959), a giddy sex comedy typical of the era that was tailor-made for the talents of the three stars. MacLaine plays a small town girl who moves to New York looking for a job and a husband. She quickly lands a secretarial job, but the husband hunt doesn't go smoothly. Instead, she has to fight off men whose intentions are less than honorable. Her next job is at a market research firm owned by the stuffy Niven and his lothario brother, Young. Falling for Young, she enlists Niven's help to market her as a product that will appeal to his brother. Ask Any Girl was produced by Joe Pasternak, the genial Hungarian who was responsible for some of Hollywood's most successful musicals, first at Universal and later at MGM, where his lush Technicolor musicals and comedies remained popular into the late 1960s. Ask Any Girl continued Pasternak's winning streak. Shortly after production wrapped, the Academy Awards nominations for 1958 were announced. All three stars of Ask Any Girl were nominated for different movies, Niven for Best Actor, MacLaine for Best Actress, and Young for Best Supporting Actor. Niven was the only one to take home an award, but both MacLaine's and Young's careers received a boost, and so did Ask Any Girl's box office when it opened shortly after the Oscars® were awarded. Even the critics who dismissed Ask Any Girl as lightweight were won over by the performances. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times, who grumbled about MacLaine's "lack of chic" liked Young's style. "He bounces around with the glee of a thoroughly corrupted playboy who knows exactly where his next girl's coming from." The British press singled out Niven. "David Niven, all polish and impeccable timing, makes every gesture tell," according to the Sunday Times. The Evening News agreed. "Niven's easy, polished performance is splendid." But it was MacLaine who won the lion's share of attention. Variety called her performance "a sheer delight." Time magazine gushed, "She probably possesses beauty, talent and mass appeal in greater degree than any cinema comedienne since Carole Lombard." Three weeks after that review, Time put her on its cover, a sure sign that MacLaine had arrived. Noting her unconventional lifestyle and offbeat looks, the article proclaimed, "Expert Hollywood status seekers consider her so far out that she is in, way in. Shirley, at 25, is the brightest face, the freshest character and the most versatile new talent in Hollywood...Her latest movie, Ask Any Girl, is climbing to the top of the box office totem pole largely because of her enchanting performance in a second-rate story." MacLaine won the Silver Bear as best foreign actress for Ask Any Girl at the Berlin Film Festival, and best foreign actress at the British Film Awards. She was also nominated for a Golden Globe as best actress in a comedy or musical. Her Oscar® for Best Actress finally came four more nominations and 25 years later, for Terms of Endearment (1983). Director: Charles Walters Producer: Joe Pasternak Screenplay: George Wells, based on the novel by Winifred Wolfe Cinematography: Robert Bronner Editor: John McSweeney, Jr. Costume Design: Helen Rose Art Direction: William A. Horning, Urie McCleary Music: Jeff Alexander Cast: David Niven (Miles Doughton), Shirley MacLaine (Meg Wheeler), Gig Young (Evan Doughton), Rod Taylor (Ross Tayford), Jim Backus (Mr. Maxwell), Claire Kelly (Lisa), Elisabeth Fraser (Jennie Boyden), Dody Heath (Terri Richards), Read Morgan (Bert). BW-99m. Letterboxed. by Margarita Landazuri

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, Twentieth-Century Fox refused M-G-M's request to borrow Stuart Whitman for a major role in Ask Any Girl. Hollywood Reporter casting lists add Robert Bronner, Gene Blakely, Roy Sickner and Kathryn Card to the cast, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed.

Miscellaneous Notes

Winner of the Best Actress Award (MacLaine) at the 1959 Berlin Film Festival.

Released in United States 1959

Shown at the 1959 Berlin Film Festival.

CinemaScope

Released in United States 1959 (Shown at the 1959 Berlin Film Festival.)

Released in United States 1959