Perhaps it would have been a much better film (it certainly would have been a much different one) if Move Over, Darling had been made with Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin, as originally intended. We really will never know, but we do know that the Darling that made it to the screen is a silly and, at times, irritating affair. While it borrows the plot from My Favorite Wife, it unfortunately borrows none of that film's charm or wit. Darling's screenplay irritates from the start, as characters behave in the most contrived manner possible, usually purely for plot purposes; if any of the characters had behaved as real people, the film would have resolved its enforced conflicts within ten minutes. Director Michael Gordon doesn't help matters, providing a superficial approach to the material that displays not a whit of invention. The cast tries hard -- in the case of Doris Day, much too hard -- but there's little they can do. Day is too often shrill, Polly Bergen is a caricature, and James Garner cannot overcome the limitations of his part. Only Thelma Ritter, who refreshingly gets to play something other than a servant, is able to rise above the material and turn in a really solid performance. There are a few good moments in Darling, and it does feature an enjoyably silly title song and an occasionally swinging soundtrack -- but it's not enough.
by Craig Butler review