Mary Mary


2h 6m 1963
Mary Mary

Brief Synopsis

A man on the verge of divorce is shocked by his wife's glamorous makeover.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Oct 1963
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Mary Mary by Jean Kerr (New York, 8 Mar 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 6m
Color
Color

Synopsis

When book publisher Bob McKellaway is informed by his attorney, Oscar Nelson, that he will have to justify some of his income tax deductions, Bob reluctantly asks his recently divorced wife, Mary, to come to New York and help allocate the canceled checks signed during their marriage. Although Bob is apprehensive about seeing Mary again, his fiancée, Tiffany Richards, is curious to see her. Once Mary arrives, she attracts the attention of Dirk Winston, a fading Hollywood star and former war buddy of Bob's. Since Mary is unable to obtain a hotel reservation, she decides to use Bob's apartment while he and Tiffany are visiting Tiffany's parents. A blizzard forces him to return home, however, and he arrives to find Mary kissing Dirk. Because of the bad weather, Bob spends the night alone with Mary, but after a violent argument, Mary decides to go to New Orleans with Dirk. Realizing that he still loves her, Bob locks Mary in a closet to prevent her departure. Dirk leaves without her; Tiffany exits, having sensed the truth of the situation; and Bob and Mary are reunited.

Film Details

Genre
Comedy
Romance
Adaptation
Release Date
Jan 1963
Premiere Information
New York opening: 24 Oct 1963
Production Company
Warner Bros. Pictures
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Mary Mary by Jean Kerr (New York, 8 Mar 1961).

Technical Specs

Duration
2h 6m
Color
Color

Articles

Mary, Mary


There's nothing funny about a movie where a divorcee squabbles with her ex-husband over income tax receipts, unless the actress involved knows how to invest her character with the right dose of pathos and absurdity. Debbie Reynolds didn't realize it at the time, but her performance as one half of the estranged couple in the parlor farce Mary, Mary (1964) marks her transition from cutie-pie ingénue to a comedic actress with sardonic wit and emotional depth.

The original play by Jean Kerr (of Please Don't Eat the Daisies fame) opened on Broadway in 1961. When casting for the film version, producer/director Mervyn LeRoy wanted to keep actors who'd performed the role onstage, a group that included Barry Nelson as Mary's ex-husband, Hiram Sherman as their unflappable accountant, and Michael Rennie as their suave actor neighbor. Barbara Bel Geddes played the title role of Mary McKellaway, a sarcastic career gal with a knack for getting under her ex-husband's skin.

Jack Warner agreed to LeRoy's casting, with two exceptions - he wanted the role of Tiffany, delectable fiancée to Mary's ex-husband, to go to new contract player Diane McBain, and he wanted the title role to go to Debbie Reynolds. LeRoy wasn't thrilled to cast Reynolds in the part, but allowed himself to be convinced.

Ironically, Reynolds didn't want the part, either. She'd recovered from the public humiliation of her husband Eddie Fisher leaving her for Elizabeth Taylor, had remarried (to wealthy shoe store magnate Harry Karl) and wanted to focus on raising her two young children and expanding her family. Suffering a miscarriage only deepened her resolve not to return to movies. "I did cute and adorable and called it acting", she admitted after reading the challenging script and assessing her own talent. "At age thirty . . . my first thought was to get out."

But Jack Warner refused to release her from the picture, convincing her she was ideal for the role. Still uncertain, Reynolds sought the advice of Lillian Burns Sydney, MGM's legendary acting coach-in-residence. Sydney's no-nonsense tutelage was exactly what Reynolds needed. She spent long hours in preparation with her mentor, shooting scenes during the day on the Warner Brothers backlot in Burbank and driving to Sydney's house in the evening to spend another five hours dissecting what made Mary tick. (The other side effect of her preparation was learning how to smoke, a "vile habit" that Reynolds found difficult to kick after the shoot wrapped.)

Translating a one room parlor comedy for the screen proved challenging, but LeRoy had some ideas. Although Jean Kerr didn't supervise the adaptation to screen, she approved of the script and added a few notes. LeRoy and cinematographer Harry Stradling, Sr. honored the story's theatrical origin by mostly choosing static camera angles mimicking the point of view of a seated audience, while incorporating some sweeping camera moves for dramatic effect, especially once Reynolds appears as Mary. And costume designer Travilla (whose claim to fame was the white dress that blew up around Marilyn Monroe's waist in Some Like It Hot (1959)) dressed Reynolds in serviceable beige suits that reflected her new, grownup persona. (Wittily, Travilla also dressed Diane McBain's "other woman" character in a tight white sweater adorned around the shoulders with a semicircular pattern that evoked the broad beaded Egyptian necklaces worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the expensive flop Cleopatra (1963))

Mary, Mary was not well-received, with critic Bosley Crowther griping in the New York Times about the static quality of the action and how Reynolds played "her usual pint-sized hothead." The movie enjoyed a short run but couldn't compare to the success of the original play that was still going strong on Broadway. But the fruits of Reynolds' labor under Lillian Burns Sydney's tutelage paid off the next year, when a newly confident Reynolds successfully lobbied for the lead in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). She beat out slam-dunk casting choice Shirley MacLaine for the role and earned an Academy Award nomination - her sole Oscar® nod - for her performance.

Producer: Mervyn LeRoy
Director: Mervyn LeRoy
Screenplay: Richard L. Breen; Jean Kerr (play)
Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Sr.
Art Direction: John Beckman
Music: Frank Perkins
Film Editing: David Wages
Cast: Debbie Reynolds (Mary McKellaway), Barry Nelson (Bob McKellaway), Diane McBain (Tiffany Richards), Hiram Sherman (Oscar Nelson), Michael Rennie (Dirk Winston).
C-126m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning.

by Violet LeVoit

Sources:
Reynolds, Debbie (with Columbia, David Patrick) Debbie: My Life. 1988, William Morrow and Co.
Leroy, Mervyn (with Kleiner, Dick) Mervyn Leroy: Take One. 1974, Hawthorn Books
Jean Kerr Obituary
http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/07/theater/jean-kerr-playwright-and-author-dies-at-80.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fT%2fTheater
Harry Karl Obituary http://www.nytimes.com/1982/08/10/obituaries/harry-karl-former-husband-of-two-movie-actresses-dies.html
Mary, Maryreview NYTimes http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D02E4DB113DE63BBC4D51DFB6678388679EDE
Mary, Mary

Mary, Mary

There's nothing funny about a movie where a divorcee squabbles with her ex-husband over income tax receipts, unless the actress involved knows how to invest her character with the right dose of pathos and absurdity. Debbie Reynolds didn't realize it at the time, but her performance as one half of the estranged couple in the parlor farce Mary, Mary (1964) marks her transition from cutie-pie ingénue to a comedic actress with sardonic wit and emotional depth. The original play by Jean Kerr (of Please Don't Eat the Daisies fame) opened on Broadway in 1961. When casting for the film version, producer/director Mervyn LeRoy wanted to keep actors who'd performed the role onstage, a group that included Barry Nelson as Mary's ex-husband, Hiram Sherman as their unflappable accountant, and Michael Rennie as their suave actor neighbor. Barbara Bel Geddes played the title role of Mary McKellaway, a sarcastic career gal with a knack for getting under her ex-husband's skin. Jack Warner agreed to LeRoy's casting, with two exceptions - he wanted the role of Tiffany, delectable fiancée to Mary's ex-husband, to go to new contract player Diane McBain, and he wanted the title role to go to Debbie Reynolds. LeRoy wasn't thrilled to cast Reynolds in the part, but allowed himself to be convinced. Ironically, Reynolds didn't want the part, either. She'd recovered from the public humiliation of her husband Eddie Fisher leaving her for Elizabeth Taylor, had remarried (to wealthy shoe store magnate Harry Karl) and wanted to focus on raising her two young children and expanding her family. Suffering a miscarriage only deepened her resolve not to return to movies. "I did cute and adorable and called it acting", she admitted after reading the challenging script and assessing her own talent. "At age thirty . . . my first thought was to get out." But Jack Warner refused to release her from the picture, convincing her she was ideal for the role. Still uncertain, Reynolds sought the advice of Lillian Burns Sydney, MGM's legendary acting coach-in-residence. Sydney's no-nonsense tutelage was exactly what Reynolds needed. She spent long hours in preparation with her mentor, shooting scenes during the day on the Warner Brothers backlot in Burbank and driving to Sydney's house in the evening to spend another five hours dissecting what made Mary tick. (The other side effect of her preparation was learning how to smoke, a "vile habit" that Reynolds found difficult to kick after the shoot wrapped.) Translating a one room parlor comedy for the screen proved challenging, but LeRoy had some ideas. Although Jean Kerr didn't supervise the adaptation to screen, she approved of the script and added a few notes. LeRoy and cinematographer Harry Stradling, Sr. honored the story's theatrical origin by mostly choosing static camera angles mimicking the point of view of a seated audience, while incorporating some sweeping camera moves for dramatic effect, especially once Reynolds appears as Mary. And costume designer Travilla (whose claim to fame was the white dress that blew up around Marilyn Monroe's waist in Some Like It Hot (1959)) dressed Reynolds in serviceable beige suits that reflected her new, grownup persona. (Wittily, Travilla also dressed Diane McBain's "other woman" character in a tight white sweater adorned around the shoulders with a semicircular pattern that evoked the broad beaded Egyptian necklaces worn by Elizabeth Taylor in the expensive flop Cleopatra (1963)) Mary, Mary was not well-received, with critic Bosley Crowther griping in the New York Times about the static quality of the action and how Reynolds played "her usual pint-sized hothead." The movie enjoyed a short run but couldn't compare to the success of the original play that was still going strong on Broadway. But the fruits of Reynolds' labor under Lillian Burns Sydney's tutelage paid off the next year, when a newly confident Reynolds successfully lobbied for the lead in The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964). She beat out slam-dunk casting choice Shirley MacLaine for the role and earned an Academy Award nomination - her sole Oscar® nod - for her performance. Producer: Mervyn LeRoy Director: Mervyn LeRoy Screenplay: Richard L. Breen; Jean Kerr (play) Cinematography: Harry Stradling, Sr. Art Direction: John Beckman Music: Frank Perkins Film Editing: David Wages Cast: Debbie Reynolds (Mary McKellaway), Barry Nelson (Bob McKellaway), Diane McBain (Tiffany Richards), Hiram Sherman (Oscar Nelson), Michael Rennie (Dirk Winston). C-126m. Letterboxed. Closed Captioning. by Violet LeVoit Sources: Reynolds, Debbie (with Columbia, David Patrick) Debbie: My Life. 1988, William Morrow and Co. Leroy, Mervyn (with Kleiner, Dick) Mervyn Leroy: Take One. 1974, Hawthorn Books Jean Kerr Obituary http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/07/theater/jean-kerr-playwright-and-author-dies-at-80.html?n=Top%2fReference%2fTimes%20Topics%2fSubjects%2fT%2fTheater Harry Karl Obituary http://www.nytimes.com/1982/08/10/obituaries/harry-karl-former-husband-of-two-movie-actresses-dies.html Mary, Maryreview NYTimes http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/review?res=9D02E4DB113DE63BBC4D51DFB6678388679EDE

Quotes

Trivia

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States 1963

Released in United States 1963