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Monday, May 26, 2008

MY GEISHA (1962)


Shirley MacLaine & Yves Montaud star in this odd romantic-comedy set in Japan which unusually for the period was made with a mostly Japanese crew. No doubt, courtesy of producer Steve Parker, MacLaine’s Japan-based spouse. It’s yet one more variation on Molnar ’s THE GUARDSMAN, but with a gender swap as Shirley, playing a big commercial Hollywood star, goes into Geisha drag so her husband’s artsy adaptation of MADAMA BUTTERFLY will get a proper budget. By '62, MacLaine had moved into her ‘knowingly’ kooky period, but she’s less pushy about it than she is in most of her post-APARTMENT roles. (Watch for a nifty in-joke with an idiot studio honcho made up as a dead ringer for Jack Warner.) Directed by the great lenser Jack Cardiff, the film has a phenomenal look, the lacquered sheen of early 60s color is perfect for those Japanese interiors, but try not to think too much about what the film might be trying to say about work, marriage, racial casting . . . or just about anything else.

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