The Grass Is Greener (1961)

104-105 mins | Romantic comedy | January 1961

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HISTORY

The title sequence designed by Maurice Binder features babies playing with props that reflect the credit being listed. Many reviewers praised Binder's creativity in the titles' design. Executive producer-star Cary Grant and producer-director Stanley Donen, co-owners of the film’s independent co-production company, Grandon Productions, purchased the rights to the play The Grass Is Greener after its London debut in Dec 1958. The film was Grandon's second and final release. [The company's first production was Indisctreet (see below).] According to a 24 Jan 1961 LAMirror article, Grant originally cast himself as "Charles Delacro," Kay Kendall as "Hilary Rhyall," her real-life husband Rex Harrison as "Victor Rhyall" and Deborah Kerr as "Hattie Durrant." Kendall died soon after, however. The filmmakers considered casting Ingrid Bergman as Hilary, but eventually assigned the role to Kerr, after which Grant took over the role of Victor. Moray Watson made his feature film debut in The Grass Is Greener recreating the role of "Sellers," which he had originated on the London stage.
       The film referenced the practice, at the time relatively new, of inviting sightseers to tour England’s stately homes in order to raise revenue for insolvent aristocrats. As noted in a Jul 1960 LAMirror article, it was shot partially on location at Osterely Hall, the ancestral home of the Earl of Jersey, the second husband of Grant's first wife, Virginia Cherrill. By the time of the film’s production, Osterley was owned by England’s National Trust. Interiors were shot at Shepperton Studios using furniture and artifacts from several real-life stately homes. A 24 Jun 1960 DV item stated that Donen had closed the ... More Less

The title sequence designed by Maurice Binder features babies playing with props that reflect the credit being listed. Many reviewers praised Binder's creativity in the titles' design. Executive producer-star Cary Grant and producer-director Stanley Donen, co-owners of the film’s independent co-production company, Grandon Productions, purchased the rights to the play The Grass Is Greener after its London debut in Dec 1958. The film was Grandon's second and final release. [The company's first production was Indisctreet (see below).] According to a 24 Jan 1961 LAMirror article, Grant originally cast himself as "Charles Delacro," Kay Kendall as "Hilary Rhyall," her real-life husband Rex Harrison as "Victor Rhyall" and Deborah Kerr as "Hattie Durrant." Kendall died soon after, however. The filmmakers considered casting Ingrid Bergman as Hilary, but eventually assigned the role to Kerr, after which Grant took over the role of Victor. Moray Watson made his feature film debut in The Grass Is Greener recreating the role of "Sellers," which he had originated on the London stage.
       The film referenced the practice, at the time relatively new, of inviting sightseers to tour England’s stately homes in order to raise revenue for insolvent aristocrats. As noted in a Jul 1960 LAMirror article, it was shot partially on location at Osterely Hall, the ancestral home of the Earl of Jersey, the second husband of Grant's first wife, Virginia Cherrill. By the time of the film’s production, Osterley was owned by England’s National Trust. Interiors were shot at Shepperton Studios using furniture and artifacts from several real-life stately homes. A 24 Jun 1960 DV item stated that Donen had closed the studio to the British press, due to their reputation for “needling film stars.”
       Contemporary reviewers commended Donen’s skill with the split-screen technique in the scene in which both couples are on the phone, having a parallel conversation. In this scene, Victor identifies himself to the hotel operator as "Rock Hudson." Although Apr and May 1960 HR news items stated that Andrew Faulds was to play a television commentator and that Gwen Watford was cast in the film, their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. A 26 Jun 1960 NYT article mentions “censorship trouble”; however, there are only a few, minor censorship issues listed in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library. The American press response to The Grass Is Greener was generally poor, including the HR review, which called the picture "one of the year's most disappointing films." More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
5 Dec 1960.
---
Box Office
12 Dec 1960.
---
Daily Variety
24 Aug 1959.
---
Daily Variety
24 Jun 1960.
---
Daily Variety
29 Nov 60
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Nov 1960.
---
Film Daily
29 Nov 60
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Mar 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Mar 1960.
---
Hollywood Reporter
1 Apr 1960
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Apr 1960
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
11 Apr 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Apr 1960
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
18 Apr 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Apr 1960
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
10 May 1960
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 Jul 1960
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Nov 1960.
---
Hollywood Reporter
29 Nov 60
p. 3.
Los Angeles Mirror
12 Jul 1960.
---
Los Angeles Mirror
24 Jan 1961
p. 4.
Los Angeles Mirror
4 Feb 1961
Part 3, p. 1, 4.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
3 Dec 60
p. 940.
New York Times
26 Jun 1960.
---
New York Times
24 Dec 60
p. 8.
New Yorker
7 Jan 1961.
---
Variety
30 Nov 60
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
2d asst dir
3rd asst dir
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
Exec prod
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITORS
Assoc ed
2d asst film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dresser
Spec consultant on settings
COSTUMES
Miss Kerr's clothes by
Miss Simmons' clothes by
MUSIC
Mus arr
Mus arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Main title des
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hair styles
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Cont girl
Unit pub
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the play The Grass Is Greener by Hugh and Margaret Williams (London, 2 Dec 1958).
MUSIC
"The Party's Over Now," "Mad Dogs and Englishmen," "Sigh No More," "Poor Little Rich Girl," "Room with a View," "I'll Follow My Secret Heart" and "Mad About the Boy" by Noël Coward.
SONGS
"The Stately Homes of England," words and music by Noël Coward
"Yankee Doodle," traditional.
COMPOSER
DETAILS
Release Date:
January 1961
Premiere Information:
World premiere in New York: 23 December 1960
Production Date:
4 April--late July 1960 at Shepperton Studios, London
Copyright Claimant:
Grandon Productions, Ltd.
Copyright Date:
7 January 1961
Copyright Number:
LP35480
Physical Properties:
Sound
Westrex Recording System
Color
Technicolor
Widescreen/ratio
Technirama
Duration(in mins):
104-105
Countries:
United Kingdom, United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
19674
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In Lynley, England, financial difficulties have forced Victor, Earl of Rhyall and his wife Hilary to open their ancestral estate to tourists. After seeing off their young son and daughter for the week, the couple retires to the mansion’s private rooms, where Hilary conducts a small business raising mushrooms and Victor passes time with his butler, Sellers. Sellers, who is employed primarily to impress the tourists, laments the fact that he is too normal and content to succeed as a novelist, which requires a measure of despair. Later, Hilary reads Victor a line of poetry extolling the passions of spring, which he correctly interprets as an appeal for money for a new spring wardrobe. As groups of tourists begin their circuit through the house, debonair American millionaire Charles Delacro enters the private room where Hilary is working. Although she is at first peeved by his forwardness, Hilary is soon charmed by Charles and, upon hearing that he is an oil tycoon, invites him for a drink. They banter pleasantly, their mutual attraction growing rapidly as they discuss their respective backgrounds. They also playfully exchange cultural stereotypes, Charles guessing that Hilary is a spoiled aristocrat who studied history and Hilary assuming that Charles spends frivolously and eats large steaks. When Charles invites Hilary to meet him for lunch in London, however, she refuses, after which Charles redoubles his efforts, and manages to steal a kiss. Flustered, Hilary asks him to leave, but when he stops to take her photograph they are discovered by Victor, who immediately deduces that Charles is a romantic rival and invites him to talk. Hilary watches, her discomfort growing, as Victor and Charles exchange veiled verbal ... +


In Lynley, England, financial difficulties have forced Victor, Earl of Rhyall and his wife Hilary to open their ancestral estate to tourists. After seeing off their young son and daughter for the week, the couple retires to the mansion’s private rooms, where Hilary conducts a small business raising mushrooms and Victor passes time with his butler, Sellers. Sellers, who is employed primarily to impress the tourists, laments the fact that he is too normal and content to succeed as a novelist, which requires a measure of despair. Later, Hilary reads Victor a line of poetry extolling the passions of spring, which he correctly interprets as an appeal for money for a new spring wardrobe. As groups of tourists begin their circuit through the house, debonair American millionaire Charles Delacro enters the private room where Hilary is working. Although she is at first peeved by his forwardness, Hilary is soon charmed by Charles and, upon hearing that he is an oil tycoon, invites him for a drink. They banter pleasantly, their mutual attraction growing rapidly as they discuss their respective backgrounds. They also playfully exchange cultural stereotypes, Charles guessing that Hilary is a spoiled aristocrat who studied history and Hilary assuming that Charles spends frivolously and eats large steaks. When Charles invites Hilary to meet him for lunch in London, however, she refuses, after which Charles redoubles his efforts, and manages to steal a kiss. Flustered, Hilary asks him to leave, but when he stops to take her photograph they are discovered by Victor, who immediately deduces that Charles is a romantic rival and invites him to talk. Hilary watches, her discomfort growing, as Victor and Charles exchange veiled verbal barbs, and when Victor steps away briefly, Hilary begs Charles to leave. Over the next few days, Victor notes that Hilary is increasingly absentminded, and is not surprised when she suddenly makes an appointment to have her hair styled in London. Although he realizes that she is going to rendezvous with Charles, Victor encourages her to go, hoping that she will soon tire of her new interest. Hilary is supposed to stay with her flamboyant friend Hattie Durrant, but after Charles finds Hilary, having called all the city salons to locate her appointment, she spends the next few nights at his hotel. Although Hilary tries to resist Charles, the romance of their illicit affair enchants her, and she begins to fall in love. Meanwhile, Victor waits at home, where he is soon visited by Hattie, who was once his girl friend and now finds mischievous pleasure in divulging the details of Hilary’s affair. In response to Hattie’s questioning, Victor admits that he is afraid to lose his wife but does not want her to return to him out of guilt. To her charge that he has had numerous affairs, Victor insists that those do not count, although he now refuses to sleep with Hattie. At dinner, Victor formulates a plan to win Hilary back by convincing her that she does not really love Charles. To this end, he calls Charles in London and invites him to visit over the weekend, both men pretending that Victor does not know Hilary is with Charles at that very moment. When Charles and Hilary arrive in Lynley, everyone acts as if nothing is amiss, but Victor continually irks Hilary with intimations of her infidelity. Hilary tries to hide the fact that Charles has given her a mink coat, not realizing that Hattie has already revealed the gift to Victor. Although Hilary is tense, the others seem to be enjoying the unspoken tension and acerbic comments, and she complains to Hattie that Victor does not seem to be jealous. At night, Victor finally confronts Charles, insisting that they compete in a duel for Hilary’s love. With Sellers acting as Charles’ second, the two men exchange gunfire, and Victor is hit in the arm. Hilary and Hattie hear the shots and run downstairs, where Hilary insists that Charles leave to fetch the doctor. While she ministers to Victor, Hilary explains that while one part of her is enjoying a romantic interlude, the other still loves him and their life together. Victor discusses infidelity with great practicality, stating that just because one marriage vow is broken does not necessitate the destruction of the entire marriage. Although Hilary mentions the attraction of the jet-set life that Charles offers, she is moved by Victor’s declaration that he will love and cherish her despite her impropriety. He offends her, however, by offering to let her go away with Charles until the American is “out of her system,” which Hilary sees as a “loanout.” Just then, Charles returns, and Hilary indicates that she will stay with Victor by reciting a story about their daughter, who rejected one doll in favor of a newer one, but in the end preferred the old, familiar one. Charles, who deliberately tried to miss when he shot at Victor, suddenly realizes that Victor arranged to be shot to impress Hilary. Victor then confesses that he ordered Sellers to shoot him in secret, knowing Charles would miss and that Hilary would appreciate his willingness to be wounded for her. Hilary is distracted from this revelation by Hattie, who has shown up wearing Hilary’s new mink coat, but once Hilary wrests it off of her, she gives it back to Hattie cheerfully. As Sellers eagerly applies his new experiences to his novel, Victor and Hilary see Charles and Hattie off and prepare to welcome back their children. +

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

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