Postcard From 1962 New York
Two For The Seesaw (1962) Is Gotham As It Won't Be Again
A Broadway success brought to movies in 1962, tough translate from two-room setting on stage, but opened up by scope B/W shot on NY streets. That's concentrated largely in credits, Robert Mitchum in/out of taxis, looking off bridges, to accompany of Andre Previn's score (very good, and on OOP disc). You could wish he were detecting, or otherwise immersed in city-bred crime, instead of romancing Greenwich Village "kook" Shirley MacLaine and dithering over divorce pending home in Nebraska. There was good reason Bob did mostly action subjects. He was simply better suited to them, as evidenced here. Passivity never became this actor. Gimmick of Two For The Seesaw is odd pair MacLaine and "square" Mitchum, mismatch more miscasting on his part. He could be varied things on screen, but never convincingly square. Seesaw casting was seesaw of leading men sifted before ball went to RM ... first Paul Newman, initially figured to star with Elizabeth Taylor, after reject of B'way original Henry Fonda (too old, and not movie-starry enough, said producer Walter Mirisch). The play meanwhile took to roads and summer stock with lead men I'd like to have seen try the movie version. Dana Andrews, for instance, replaced Fonda and did the part on Broadway for some months.
|Robert Wise Directs Stars On New York Location|
New York is at least not glamorized, being apartments dingy or dingier. There's reference to smell, bedbugs, other realities of city life where money is limited. Shirley MacLaine nixes a block-size loft that rents for outlandish $65, a scene bound to raise mirth where Two For The Seesaw is revived, but would it be, other than for NYC-set festival or Mitchum closure? Romantic and sexual negotiation is spoke bluntly for what was still Code-era 1962, and Mitchum slaps MacLaine hard at one point, tells her she had it coming, a shock to modern sensibility. Reminding myself that he did this a same year as Cape Fear was food to ponder, but then there was also The Last Time I Saw Archie a short year before, so yes, Mitch covered range during early-60's. He and MacLaine got personal while on the seesaw, topic addressed, in fact a centerpiece, of her memoir years later. RM would make dates to meet at spots all round the world, then give MacLaine a stand-up w/o explanation. Maybe he was the kook. Two For The Seesaw is lately out from Kino, an excellent Blu-Ray to uptick overall rate for the show.