Moon is Blue, The (1953)

Moon is Blue, The (1953)

“I really thought you were a nice girl — I really did.”

A virginal aspiring actress (Maggie McNamara) accompanies an architect (William Holden) to his apartment, where she soon meets his embittered would-be girlfriend (Dawn Addams) and Addams’ playboy father (David Niven) — who, naturally, becomes interested in McNamara.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • David Niven Films
  • Love Triangle
  • Morality Police
  • Otto Preminger Films
  • Play Adaptations
  • Romantic Comedy
  • Strong Females
  • William Holden Films

Otto Preminger’s cinematic adaptation of F. Hugh Herbert’s 1951 Broadway play was notorious for its open discussion of topics such as virginity, pregnancy, mistresses, and seduction; indeed, the entire storyline focuses on a refreshingly candid young woman (McNamara) who refuses to play romantic games, and isn’t afraid to voice exactly what she wants. While the film is very much of its era in terms of gender politics, it also plays with such notions openly — for instance, McNamara hopes to marry an older man and doesn’t mind if he already has kids, yet she’s more interested in cooking meals than living a pampered life. McNamara (who looks distractingly like Jean Simmons, though others have noted her resemblance to Debbie Reynolds) is well-cast in the lead role — and though her cadence-filled voice takes some getting used to, it’s at least distinctive. While the script is certainly no longer scandalous, the film remains an interesting historical glimpse into what once passed as controversial.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Ernest Laszlo’s cinematography

Must See?
No, but it’s worth a look.


One thought on “Moon is Blue, The (1953)

  1. First viewing. Not must-see, though it may be of interest to film fanatics, historically, as being “instrumental in weakening the influence of the Production Code” (Wikipedia).

    As per my post in ‘The ’40s-’50s in Film’ (fb):

    “Y’know – I think I’ll buy some ham and eggs, too.”

    ‘The Moon Is Blue’ (1953): This is the Otto Preminger film that caused such a CONTROVERSIAL STIR because the script included the word ‘virgin’. ~ which apparently is something of an urban legend. (See Wikipedia link in comments for all that you may or may not need to know about this film.) It only made it to the screen because the original play (also directed by Preminger) ran on Broadway for close to 1,000 performances – so, of course, there was money to be made. Seen today, the film is not only innocuous (as many saw it at the time) but it’s even downright odd: a boy meets girl tale in which – yes – there is a lot of talk about sex (it’s an almost hopelessly talky flick), but there’s nothing remotely close to any actual sex… and there are only a couple of harmless kisses (or, as Madeline Kahn famously said, “No tongues!”). I do love how the quote above becomes ‘code’ for “You’re spending the night.” …What the film reveals now (and a viewing may be interesting on that count alone) is how panicked and messed-up ‘moral’ groups in the ’50s were about sex. (No one, of course, was supposed to have any sex at all before marriage and people were expected to be basically ignorant of their own bodies.) … This same sort-of ‘What should a good girl do?’ premise would pop up again in 1963 for ‘Sunday in New York’ (with Jane Fonda and Rod Taylor; still a much better, much funnier film). But, surprisingly – in a cast that boasts William Holden and David Niven – the leading lady Maggie McNamara turns in a rather charming (Oscar-nommed) performance as the “professional virgin” because she fully embraces the fluff of it all and goes at it with full-throttle conviction.

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