What a Way to Go! (1964) - Rotten Tomatoes

What a Way to Go!1964

What a Way to Go! (1964)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

What a Way to Go! Photos

Movie Info

This lavishly produced, big-budget comedy (it cost $20 million in 1964 dollars) stars Shirley MacLaine as Louisa, a widow who is worth $200 million dollars. However, she's convinced that her fortune is cursed, and she wants to give all her money to the IRS. As she explains her sad tale to her psychiatrist, Dr. Stephanson (Robert Cummings), it seems that when Louisa was young she had the choice of marrying rich playboy Leonard Crawley (Dean Martin) or poor but decent Edgar Hopper (Dick Van Dyke). She chose Edgar, but soon he became obsessed with providing a fine home and fortune for her; he got rich but worked himself to death in the process. Despondent, Louisa flies to Paris, where she strikes up a romance with expatriate artist Larry Flint (Paul Newman). When Larry invents a machine that creates paintings based on sounds, he becomes wealthy and famous -- and dies. Louisa returns to America, where she figures to break her streak by marrying Rod (Robert Mitchum), a business tycoon who already has lots of money. He resolves to take life easier and becomes a farmer, only to die in a strange accident with a bull. Louisa is drowning her sorrows one night at a sleazy night spot when she falls for second rate entertainer Jerry (Gene Kelly). They marry, and a now-wealthy Jerry develops a relaxed, carefree quality to his act that makes him a huge star, which leads to his being crushed by a mob of his biggest fans. What a Way to Go! boasted a screenplay by Betty Comdon and Adolph Green that featured many amusing film parodies and a score by Nelson Riddle; it also marked the final screen appearance of comic actress Margaret Dumont, best remembered as Groucho Marx's straight woman in several films. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi

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Shirley MacLaine
as Louisa May Foster
Paul Newman
as Larry Flint
Robert Mitchum
as Rod Anderson, Jr.
Dean Martin
as Leonard 'Lennie' Crawley
Gene Kelly
as Jerry Benson
Robert Cummings
as Dr. Stephanson
Dick Van Dyke
as Edgar Hopper
Margaret Dumont
as Mrs. Foster
Roy Gordon
as Minister
Phil Arnold
as Publicity and Press Agent
Dick Wilson
as Driscoll
Lou Nova
as Tentino
Fifi D'Orsay
as Baroness
Larry Kent
as Hollywood Lawyer
Jane Wald
as Polly
Lenny Kent
as Hollywood Lawyer
Sid Gould
as Movie Executive
Paula Lauc
as Movie Executive's Girl
Army Archerd
as TV Announcer
Tracy Butler
as Movie Star
Anton Arnold
as Mr. Foster
Burt Mustin
as Crawleyville Lawyer
Pamelyn Ferdin
as Geraldine Crawley (age 4)
Jeff Fithian
as Jonathan Crawley (age 5)
Billy Corcoran
as Leonard Crawley (age 7)
Queenie Leonard
as Lady Kensington
Tom Conway
as Lord Kensington
Barbara Bouchet
as Girl on Plane
Marjorie Bennett
as Mrs. Freeman
Marcel Hillaire
as French Lawyer
Eugene Borden
as Neighbor
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Critic Reviews for What a Way to Go!

All Critics (9) | Top Critics (3)

Hard to define but easy to recommend; the 20th-Fox presentation is a funny musical comedy, or comedy with music, with all the glamour that Hollywood can throw into one film, and a high-powered cast to light the marquee.

May 14, 2018 | Full Review…

J. Lee Thompson's direction has failed to coalesce a good, firm farce. It lets the whole thing flap wildly -- and that's no way to make a film.

June 17, 2008 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

A big, gaudy, gimmicky comedy which continually promises more than it delivers by way of wit and/or bellylaffs.

June 17, 2008 | Full Review…

What a Way to Go is supposed to have cost six million dollars, which averages out to about a million and half a laugh.

March 16, 2020 | Full Review…

[Spells] out each joke for the slow readers and then repeating it for those who can't read at all.

August 13, 2019 | Full Review…

The talents of an incredible group of actors are pooled for this effervescent comedy that was originally conceived as a starring vehicle for Marilyn Monroe.

August 16, 2017 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for What a Way to Go!


Silly shenanigans with Shirley a daffy delight as she works through a series of husbands and crazy production numbers. Her costumes have to be seen to be believed.

jay nixon
jay nixon

Super Reviewer

A delightful confection of a movie made primarily to showcase Edith Head's sumptuous outfits. It's really an experience to see all these big stars having a grand old time f-cking each other in a big glass of champagne. A satire of sorts, but the main purpose of seeing this movie is to have FUN, because you're never gonna see anything like this again.

Jennifer Xu
Jennifer Xu

Super Reviewer

What a Way to Go! Quotes

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