Designing Woman (1957)
“How is it you cannot stand the sight of blood on anyone except me?
Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
… and ensuing marital problems don’t elicit much sympathy or interest, and the subplots — including Peck being hounded by the corrupt promoter (Edward Platt) of a punch-drunk fighter (Mickey Shaughnessy), and Bacall’s jealousy of Peck’s former curvy fling (Dolores Gray):
— are simply insipid. Worst of all are the film’s dated notions of what a woman (even one as successful, independent, beautiful, and popular as Bacall) will do to snag and keep a man; the title is a not-too-subtle play on words (get it? designing woman?). It’s baffling that this screenplay won an Oscar.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
One thought on “Designing Woman (1957)”
First viewing. Agreed; skip it.
This will come off as a sort of blasphemy to many but, with some exceptions, I don’t think much of the work of Vincente Minnelli. His main interest in film was visual (and, to that end, many of his films display visual splendor, esp. his musicals).
But I find the bulk of his work exceedingly dull and ‘Designing Woman’ is both a prime example and a major offender. When it comes to film, I’m not personally first and foremost a visual person but I will certainly appreciate visuals to the max if they are in tandem with everything else: good acting, scripts and direction.
Minnelli often chose to work on bad scripts: comedies that aren’t all that amusing or dramas that lean toward being mawkish. As well, he didn’t appear to know all that much about what to do with actors – he seemed to mostly let them slide on what they were known for doing well.
(It’s sort of amazing to me that ‘The Band Wagon’ is my all-time favorite movie musical. But then, all of the elements of that script are top-notch. I think Minnelli just lucked out.)
As comedy goes, ‘Designing Woman’ is about as weak as they come. As a result, Minnelli directed in a way that sometimes even good directors fall prey to in such a situation: he tried to force the material, as a means to compensate and make it funnier. ~which only serves to reveal just how weak the material is.
A lot of the script hinges on jealousy. …Yawn.
Gay viewers will note that Minnelli has gay (but closeted) choreographer Jack Cole acting in the role of a character who is a choreographer – and the ‘joke’ is that Cole’s character is actually a macho married man (!). Of course, that doesn’t explain why Minnelli has Cole jumping around flamboyantly when that isn’t necessary. Maybe he thought it would be funny.