Two for the Seesaw (1962)

120 mins | Comedy-drama | 21 November 1962

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HISTORY

The 18 May 1962 NYT reported that the Mirisch Company acquired motion picture rights for William Gibson’s 1958 stage play at the request of Elizabeth Taylor, who was interested in playing the character, “Gittel Mosca.” Taylor’s long-running obligation to Cleopatra (1963, see entry) rendered her unavailable and she was replaced by Shirley MacLaine. The 13 Jan 1961 LAT announced Glenn Ford as MacLaine’s leading man, before the role was assigned to Robert Mitchum, as noted in the 23 Mar 1961 LAT. Six months later, the 20 Sep 1961 DV stated that filming would be delayed until the following year. James Garner was temporarily considered to replace Mitchum. According to the 25 Sep 1961 DV, William Wyler was the producers’ first choice for director, but he declined in favor of a year-long vacation. Within two weeks, the 9 Oct 1961 DV reported that the position was filled by Robert Wise. Days later, he left for New York City to scout locations, as noted in the 13 Oct 1961 DV.
       The 21 Dec 1961 DV reported that the current draft of the screenplay raised no objections from the Production Code Administration (PCA). The 8 Jan 1962 DV noted that, prior to filming, Shirley MacLaine prepared for her role by rooming with a resident of New York City’s Greenwich Village. A news item in the 23 Jan 1962 DV indicated that rehearsals were underway in Los Angeles, CA. According to the 29 Jan 1962 DV, wide-angle Panavision lenses ... More Less

The 18 May 1962 NYT reported that the Mirisch Company acquired motion picture rights for William Gibson’s 1958 stage play at the request of Elizabeth Taylor, who was interested in playing the character, “Gittel Mosca.” Taylor’s long-running obligation to Cleopatra (1963, see entry) rendered her unavailable and she was replaced by Shirley MacLaine. The 13 Jan 1961 LAT announced Glenn Ford as MacLaine’s leading man, before the role was assigned to Robert Mitchum, as noted in the 23 Mar 1961 LAT. Six months later, the 20 Sep 1961 DV stated that filming would be delayed until the following year. James Garner was temporarily considered to replace Mitchum. According to the 25 Sep 1961 DV, William Wyler was the producers’ first choice for director, but he declined in favor of a year-long vacation. Within two weeks, the 9 Oct 1961 DV reported that the position was filled by Robert Wise. Days later, he left for New York City to scout locations, as noted in the 13 Oct 1961 DV.
       The 21 Dec 1961 DV reported that the current draft of the screenplay raised no objections from the Production Code Administration (PCA). The 8 Jan 1962 DV noted that, prior to filming, Shirley MacLaine prepared for her role by rooming with a resident of New York City’s Greenwich Village. A news item in the 23 Jan 1962 DV indicated that rehearsals were underway in Los Angeles, CA. According to the 29 Jan 1962 DV, wide-angle Panavision lenses were employed to capture the image of two adjacent apartments. One week later, the 2 Feb 1962 DV reported that principal photography began 26 Jan 1962 at Goldwyn Studios in West Hollywood, CA. However, production was interrupted soon after to allow Robert Wise to attend a royal command performance in England of his 1961 film, West Side Story (see entry).
       Wise told the 12 Feb 1962 DV that the project was budgeted at $3 million, including a total of $350,000 paid to William Gibson, producer Fred Coe, and director Arthur Penn for the stage play, in addition to a percentage of profits. Although the original story featured only two characters, the film would include five additional characters mentioned in the dialogue, along with fifteen peripheral roles. Wise estimated that eighty percent of screen time would be devoted to the two principal characters. At that time, Colin Campbell had recently joined the cast, and producers were in negotiations with actor Larry Gates.
       An article in the 11 Mar 1962 NYT stated that the film was shot sequentially “to stress the development of and relationship between the two central characters.” To overcome the cinematic limitations of the intimate setting, Wise photographed the actors using “close-ups and over-the-shoulder shots,” and added movement by having them perform mundane tasks, such as lighting cigarettes or tuning a radio. Shirley MacLaine developed a New York accent with “Jewish inflections” to suit her character, which she intentionally softened as the story progressed. According to the 25 Mar 1962 LAT, she also began every morning with a breakfast of bagels and lox. On 9 Apr 1962, DV reported that two weeks of location filming in New York City were scheduled to begin 10 Apr 1962. Locations included the Brooklyn Bridge, City Hall, the New York Public Library, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bowery district, and Greenwich Village. A coffee house on Fourth Street served as a Chinese Restaurant. The company returned to Los Angeles, CA, on 21 Apr 1962, as stated in the next day’s NYT.
       Five months later, the 21 Sep 1962 DV reported that MacLaine and her husband, Steve Parker, attended a preview screening in Beverly Hills, CA. Also in the audience were MacLaine’s brother, Warren Beatty, and actress Natalie Wood. The 15 Oct 1962 DV announced a preview that night at the Academy Award Theatre in Hollywood, CA, followed by an anticipated 26 Oct 1962 screening for the Cinema Editors Guild at Revue (Universal) Studios, as noted in the 17 Oct 1962 DV.
       Two for the Seesaw opened 21 Nov 1962 in New York City at fifteen theaters, and on 20 Dec 1962 in Beverly Hills for an exclusive engagement, accompanied by the half-hour documentary, Jacqueline Kennedy’s Asian Journey. A citywide run began 4 Mar 1964. Reviews were mixed, with the 22 Nov 1962 NYT comparing the film unfavorably to its Broadway counterpart.
The 23 Jul 1963 DV noted that the picture would not be released in Japan, where audiences reportedly preferred “action pictures.”
       A full-page advertisement in the 4 Feb 1963 DV quoted several journalists who predicted an Academy Award nomination for MacLaine. Although their predictions were incorrect, the film was nominated for Cinematography—Black-and-White, and for the original composition, “Song From Two For The Seesaw (Second Chance),” by André Previn and Dory Langdon.
       An advertisement in the 9 Feb 1962 DV mentioned actor Larry Breitman as a cast member. “Film Assignments” in the 23 Jan 1962 DV listed Ted McCord as cameraman.
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BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
20 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
25 Sep 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Oct 1961
p. 1.
Daily Variety
13 Oct 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Dec 1961
p. 2.
Daily Variety
8 Jan 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
23 Jan 1962
p. 2, 6.
Daily Variety
26 Jan 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
2 Feb 1962
p. 2, 14.
Daily Variety
9 Feb 1962
p. 20.
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
20 Mar 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
30 Mar 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
9 Apr 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
21 Sep 1962
p. 2.
Daily Variety
15 Oct 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
17 Oct 1962
p. 4.
Daily Variety
30 Oct 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
15 Nov 1962
p. 15.
Daily Variety
30 Nov 1962
p. 3.
Daily Variety
19 Dec 1962
p. 9.
Daily Variety
4 Feb 1963
p. 11.
Daily Variety
23 Jul 1963
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
13 Jan 1961
Section B, p. 7.
Los Angeles Times
23 Mar 1961
Section C, p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
25 Mar 1962
Section A, p. 5.
Los Angeles Times
2 Apr 1962
Section C, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
4 Dec 1962
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
13 Dec 1962
Section D, p. 15.
Los Angeles Times
21 Dec 1962
Section D, p. 12.
Los Angeles Times
27 Feb 1963
Section D, p. 13.
New York Times
11 Mar 1962
Section X, p. 7.
New York Times
22 Apr 1962
Section X, p. 7.
New York Times
18 May 1962
p. 35.
New York Times
10 Nov 1962
p. 14.
New York Times
22 Nov 1962
p. 51.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Cine
Cam asst
Cam asst
ART DIRECTORS
Prod des
Asst art dir
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Set coordinator
COSTUMES
Cost des
MUSIC
SOUND
Music ed
MAKEUP
Hairstyles
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
Scr supv
Dial coach
Dial coach
Stills
Grip
Gaffer
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play Two for the Seesaw by William Gibson (New York, 16 Jan 1958).
SONGS
"Song From Two For The Seesaw (Second Chance)," composed and conducted by André Previn, lyrics by Dory Langdon.
DETAILS
Release Date:
21 November 1962
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 21 November 1962
Los Angeles opening: 20 December 1962
Production Date:
began 29 January 1962
Copyright Claimant:
Seesaw Pictures
Copyright Date:
21 November 1962
Copyright Number:
LP23344
Physical Properties:
Sound
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Panavision
Duration(in mins):
120
Country:
United States
Language:
English
SYNOPSIS

Omaha lawyer Jerry Ryan arrives in Manhattan after the breakup of his marriage and the loss of his job. He is lonely and decides to go to a Greenwich Village party given by his friend Oscar. There, he meets Gittel Mosca, a dancer from the Bronx, and they begin an affair. Jerry's thoughts, however, are still in Omaha, and he is unable to give of himself. Though he gets a job with a prominent law firm and uses some of his money to set Gittel up with a little dance studio in an empty loft, she senses that he cannot forget his wife and becomes depressed. After attending a party with a friend, she quarrels with Jerry, and has to be taken to the hospital with a hemorrhaging ulcer. When she returns he devotedly takes care of her, but the time inevitably arrives when she examines their relationship and asks Jerry to marry her when he is free of his marital ties. She learns that his divorce has already become final, though he has been afraid to tell her. They realize that the affair must end, and Jerry decides to return to his wife. Gittel is alone in her apartment when Jerry phones to tell her he loves her, and to say ... +


Omaha lawyer Jerry Ryan arrives in Manhattan after the breakup of his marriage and the loss of his job. He is lonely and decides to go to a Greenwich Village party given by his friend Oscar. There, he meets Gittel Mosca, a dancer from the Bronx, and they begin an affair. Jerry's thoughts, however, are still in Omaha, and he is unable to give of himself. Though he gets a job with a prominent law firm and uses some of his money to set Gittel up with a little dance studio in an empty loft, she senses that he cannot forget his wife and becomes depressed. After attending a party with a friend, she quarrels with Jerry, and has to be taken to the hospital with a hemorrhaging ulcer. When she returns he devotedly takes care of her, but the time inevitably arrives when she examines their relationship and asks Jerry to marry her when he is free of his marital ties. She learns that his divorce has already become final, though he has been afraid to tell her. They realize that the affair must end, and Jerry decides to return to his wife. Gittel is alone in her apartment when Jerry phones to tell her he loves her, and to say goodbye. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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