Wedding Day Nightmare for Garner
Whilst a remake of the popular "My Favourite Wife", "Move over Darling" is your pretty stereotypical 60's inoffensive romantic comedy, pairing up Doris Day and James Garner for their second movie together. But it is the back story to the movie which is actually more interesting than the movie itself. Originally called "Something's Got to Give" it was to be a movie featuring Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, except Monroe was fired from the movie and although it is said she was rehired sadly died before the movie was made. So with a movie on there hands Fox repackaged it, renamed it and so we got Doris Day and James Garner instead.
Five years after she disappeared at sea in a plane crash, Nicholas Arden (James Garner - The Thrill of it All) has his wife, Ellen (Doris Day - That Touch of Mink), legally declared dead and immediately gets remarried to Bianca Steele (Polly Bergen). Unbeknown to Nicholas on that same day his wife Ellen turns up in town after being found by the Navy on a small island. When she discovers that Nicholas has got remarried she heads off to where he is honeymooning hoping to stop things before they get to late. Complicated it certainly is, especially as Nicholas has to somehow tell his new wife that his old wife has returned.
Although "Move Over Darling" is for the most good fun and full of Hollywood gloss there is something missing from it which unfortunately makes it feel like it's dragging on long after it should have ended. It's probably down partly to the fact that once we get the initial scenes where Nicholas and Ellen reunite when he is on his honeymoon with Bianca it all becomes a little repetitive with the same plot device, the fact that Nicholas has to tell his new wife, used over and over again just in different locations. It tries hard to add further elements to the story and give it a little emotional feel with the children which don't remember their mum, but it all ends up going through the same thing over and over again, making it hit a trough half way through and never really regaining the pace and fun of the earlier scenes.
As with most romantic comedies from the 60s the humour in "Move Over Darling" revolves around situations and a little slapstick. It's the sort of charming humour which these days make you smile more than laugh. The same with the romance side of the storyline, compared to today's romcoms it all feels a little tame, as if the subject of romance was not something to be explored. It's by no means terrible as between the romance and comedy "Move Over Darling" is an amiable movie.
The strongest reason why "Move Over Darling" works is in the casting of Doris Day and James Garner. Garner fits the bill as the handsome husband given the unexpected problem of now having two wives. It's a comfortable performance allowing him to deliver both charm and humour equally and his partnership with Doris Day works quite well. Talking of which Doris Day is definitely at home with her role of Ellen, and in many ways carries on delivering the sort of charming performance she made her own in previous romcoms such as "Pillow Talk". Together Doris Day and James Garner make "Move Over Darling" much more enjoyable than it probably would have been with Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin.
Although Doris Day and James Garner are the stars of the movie they are definitely helped by some humorous performances from the likes of Polly Bergen as Bianca Steele, the gloriously funny Thelma Ritter as Grace Arden and Edgar Buchanan who is wonderful as the exasperated judge who has to sort this mess out.
What this all boils down to is that "Move Over Darling" is your stereotypical 60s romcom. It's not the greatest 60s romcom and suffers from feeling a little repetitive and dragged out causing it to feel longer than its 103 minute length. But the humorous performances from Doris Day and James Garner help to make up for this as do the supporting performances. It is what it is, an inoffensive romcom that will make you smile but won't leave a lasting impression on you.