Move Over, Marilyn?

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Before it was Move Over, Darling starring Doris Day and James Garner, it was a completely different film with a completely different cast…

In 1962, 20th Century Fox wanted to remake the RKO comedy, My Favorite Wife, which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Their first attempt was called Goodbye, Charlie – later retitled Something’s Got to Give – with Marilyn Monroe in the lead.

At this point in her career, Monroe was an American icon, but she had a reputation in Hollywood for being difficult. She could be late to set, unprepared, or overwhelmed with anxiety. After she was hired, the studio wanted to head off any potential issues. So when she requested a script rewrite, a change in directors, and the casting of Dean Martin as her leading man, the studio obliged, even though it meant spending more money.

However, the relationship soured as the production fell behind schedule due to Monroe’s absences. When she did finally appear in front of the camera, her performances weren’t up to par and thus, weren’t usable. To make matters worse, Monroe made time for public appearances,  like singing at President Kennedy’s birthday or the Dodgers game. For the cast and crew, it felt like she wasn't prioritizing the film, and they were unable to work on other projects until the movie wrapped.

Director George Cukor said, “I think she knew that she wasn’t doing a good job when she did play a scene. She therefore became more and more terrified of facing the camera with the result that she would look for any excuse not to.”

In fact, despite his encouragement, Monroe battled insecurity on the set of Something's Got to Give, wondering if she even still had what it took to be an actress.

Monroe’s delays cost the studio approximately $2 million, and they were very worried about the rising cost, especially since they were also dealing with another expensive film, Cleopatra. In fact, that epic drama starring Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton threatened to bankrupt the studio.

In the end, 20th Century Fox decided that it was in their best interest to fire Monroe after approximately seven weeks. They hired Lee Remick to replace her, but Dean Martin refused to continue without his original leading lady. As a result, the production of the remake was scrapped.

Less than two months after she was fired, Monroe committed suicide in August 1962. The news shocked the nation.

“She had this absolute, unerring touch with comedy,” Cukor said. “She was very observant and tough-minded and appealing, but she trusted the wrong people.”

After the tragedy, the studio decided to attempt to remake the film My Favorite Wife again but with a completely new cast and a completely new title – Move Over, Darling. Doris Day led the film with James Garner, Thelma Ritter, and Polly Bergen starring alongside her. While it was met with mixed reviews, it was successful at the box office, making more than enough money to break even.