Based on the two-character play by William Gibson, Two for the Seesaw was unnecessarily expanded for the film version. Robert Mitchum plays an Omaha businessman, newly arrived in New York. Though unhappily married, Mitchum is averse to asking for a divorce. This state of affairs gets dicey when Mitchum falls in love with Bronx-born professional dancer Shirley MacLaine. Once he does get a divorce, Mitchum, nervous about making any new commitments, fails to tell MacLaine. Though they remain fond of one another, Mitchum and MacLaine finally realize that any future relationship will do more harm than good for both of them. The original Broadway production of Two for the Seesaw starred Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft; by the time the film was made, Fonda was feuding with playwright Gibson and Bancroft was filming The Miracle Worker, so Mitchum and MacLaine were substituted. She is ideally suited to her role, but he seems ill at ease playing an indecisive jerk. Two for the Seesaw is at its best when concentrating on the minimalist text of the original play; the inclusion of secondary characters and location photography adds little to the project.
by Hal Erickson synopsis