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  • Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine are well-cast in this engaging love story set in NYC and shot in gritty, atmospheric black and white. Mitchum's wonderfully-modulated performance as a middle-aged lawyer on the rebound, and MacLaine's as the effervescent young dancer he becomes involved with, mesh very appealingly. The Broadway-caliber dialogue is more sophisticated, and the emotional level more intimate, than the films the two were typically making at the time. If "The Grass is Greener", a Mitchum (and Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr!) film from the same period and also an adaptation of a stage play, is a tepid example of how *not* to bring a play to the screen, "Two for the Seesaw" is a vibrant example of how to use film to endow a play with an intimacy that would be impossible to achieve onstage. Major kudos to Mitchum, MacLaine, and the director, Robert Wise.
  • The post-beatnik / pre-hippie party scene is truly spectacular as a snapshot of a time/place rarely caught on film. While most of America was still living a black & white Eisenhower existence, this film shows the cutting edge NYC scene that had already moved beyond bebop and Kerouac and was just about to stumble full tilt into the Warhol Factory. The party scene probably seemed about as weird to middle America as the alien bar scene in Star Wars, fifteen years later. But one kid in every high school across the country changed their plans to attend 'State' and filled out last minute applications to NYU; they knew that they would grow old waiting for that world to reach their hometown.

    A little known treat for anyone into the early days of "alt".
  • I call this film surprisingly great not because I was shocked that Mitchum or MacLane delivered fine performances, it's surprisingly good because of everything else this film has... in addition to M&M's delicious performances. I had no idea what to expect before watching this, just the way I like it. Because then I get the 5-10 minute rule to takeover -- either I'm hooked or I'm not.

    Well it started right away. This thing was shot in B&W anamorphic, and shot beautifully. The opening shots drew me in for their wide angles and good framing and nice dramatic lighting(ie what normal people call a good mood setter)... noirish in some respects. And then it sucked me right in.

    Maybe because it started on the stage and the scenes were so long but the dialogue was so well crafted that you just had to pay attention.

    Maybe the fantastic real life portrayals by M&M - not straying nor betraying.

    But I found myself constantly wanting to talk some sense into Jerry and Gittel -- ah thats what cinema is -- the desire to find out how it ends. And what an ending it is... I'll leave it at that.

    I give it a 10 because it maybe is among the very best of this category - the "realistic character dialogue romance featuring two very odd strangers (think Stewart and Novak in Vertigo)". Shot well, acted well... kept me glued to the end. I give it 10 and not 9 because well, without spoiling it -- they didn't go where they could have gone. And I think that most audiences won't understand that final point once they see it. Thats a shame. But those who understand will agree - brilliance all around.

    10 from me. And thats saying a HELLUVA lot.
  • Recently got a chance to see this movie and thought the performances by Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine were great. Especially like the part that Shirley MacLaine played. I am not to used to seeing Robert Mitchum in roles like this but thought he did well. He plays a man going through a divorce who meets a younger woman played by Shirley Maclaine. Having both different life experiences they somehow try to make their new relationship work. I gave this film an 8 out 10 and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was this good. Read in another post that at the time of this films release critics didn't think that Mitchum's role was believable enough because of perhaps the age difference. I had no problem with buying into this story and the actors that portrayed the characters. Good Movie!
  • There are no special effects, no graphic sex........just GREAT ACTING. I could watch movies like this all day and night. Shirley McLaine is at her best.......Robert Mitchum is........well...Robert Mitchum............did you know he smoked pot quite a bit? Anyway, give me two excellent actors and a great script over blowing up buses and the latest and greatest computer graphics any day. (ie; SHREK) I was home sick and forced to watch this, which is how i see many of my movies. two thumbs up. I think she(Shirley McLaine) was nominated for an Oscar for this or did she win an Oscar? I love good black and white movies. It engaged me from the beginning to the end.
  • This is a film of a play, and it looks it. With a couple of exceptions, all of the dialogue is between the two characters played by Robert Mitchum and Shirley MacLaine. To be honest, Mitchum seems badly miscast here. I don't think he was the best choice for a lonely, insecure and lost bachelor in New York City; Mitchum begging for help from a woman who appears to be half his age? To me, it doesn't work. MacLaine surprised me, however, with some very fine acting, much better than I have ever seen her before; she was quite stunning when she was young. And she even does a bit of dancing in this movie.

    I am a big Robert Mitchum fan, but he is too old, and the physical mismatch with MacLaine is too distracting.

    The sets are static; the action, such as it is, rarely leaves the two protagonists' apartments. There is an interesting application of split screen; M & M are speaking on the phone to each other from their separate apartments. The left half of the shot is MacLaine's home, the right Mitchum's. The two apartments are very distinct in furnishing and style. Suddenly, the camera pans right, to focus on Mitchum, and you realize that it is one set, cleverly made up to look like a standard split screen; that is, it is arranged exactly as if it were on a stage, the left side one apartment, the right the other. Very clever! Another interesting note: during the opening credits, Mitchum is seen to be walking around various parts of Manhattan, apparently all in one day; he states shortly thereafter that he spends his days and nights tramping the streets endlessly. In order, he first appears in the Bowery, feeding pigeons in front of St. Mark's Church, then downtown in front of the landmark Woolworth Building, then in midtown, on what may be 42nd Stret, and finally in front and in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He sure got around in one day!

    I am not a big fan of movies made to look like plays, but this is beautifully and cleverly photographed. It may be worth a look.
  • The frustrating loop-de-loops of an uncertain love relationship between a Greenwich Village kook-dancer and a Midwestern suit-and-tie lawyer on the verge of divorcing his wife of 12 years. Though highly entertaining, this light-drama obviously derives from a play, as the lines of dialogue have not been reworked for the screen. It gets awfully pedantic at times; for instance, we know the characters' names, they know their names, so why do they keep saying to each other, "Jerry?", "Yes, Gittel?" "I'm sorry, Jerry." "I know, Gittel." The performances by Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum are excellent (we like them even before their self-doubting, insecure characters take shape), but this stage-vehicle hasn't been turned into a star-vehicle. The leads banter back and forth in a curiously under-populated vacuum, however their increasingly tense conversations contain the startling ring of truth. Ted McCord's black-and-white cinematography provides a terrific compensation for the film's minor weaknesses; André Previn's "Apartment"-like score is rapturous as well. *** from ****
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I've waited TOO long to write a few words on this film. I think I first saw it about eight years ago or so, and fell in love with it. I had then preceded to watch this film almost every night for a couple of years...it sort of became my going-to-bed movie (much like the man in "Kate and Leopold" who puts on "Moon River" every night before he goes to bed..but for me, it was a whole movie).

    It's a very simple story about a Nebraskan attorney named Jerry Ryan, played by Robert Mitchum, and a single, slightly kooky dancer and dance instructor named Gittel Mosca, played by MacLaine, who meet at a party, and eventually have an affair. He's from Nebraska, but taking some to think in New York, away from his wife, from whom he's separated. Jerry and Gittel have very little in common, but manage to help each other a bit during this very transitional period in predominantly his life. The one line that sums up their union is "what I have to give, you don't want, and what I want, you can't give".

    I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the score, by Andre Previn, and have looked and looked for it (I think it's called "Second Chances")...but I haven't been able to track it down anywhere. The score/musical theme of the movie, however, is used IN the movie, as background music in one of the scenes...maybe the party scene in which Mitchum and MacLaine meet. I hate when movies do this....they take the musical theme of the movie, which is played during the credits, and insert it as if it's a current song in the middle of the movie. But, I still love the melody, just the same. The story is so simple, and probably not exactly plausible. But, we've all heard of strange, short-lived unions. So, I guess it is plausible. I've often read that MacLaine is not necessarily convincing as a Jewish New Yorker. I agree, to a degree, but she is still charming in it, as is this entire movie. There's also a brief cameo by the actress who played Millie Helper from the wonderful Dick Van Dyke Show, as the landlord (forget the actress' name!!! and she's been on Seinfeld and other shows much more recently).

    All in all, I LOVED the tone of this film, and the acting was fine. It's perfect for a rainy day...PERFECT. I would have loved to have seen Anne Bancroft and Henry Fonday play these roles on stage. I read that Anne Bancroft really wanted to do this film, but had to turn it down, because she was in the middle of filming "The Miracle Worker". I heard, however, that she was fantastic in it. And, if you've ever seen the film "The Turning Point", with both MacLaine and Bancroft (LOVE THIS FILM AS WELL), in the scene in which their two characters have a fight on the rooftop, and then settle down, Bancroft's character Emma then chimes in that she would have done anything to get that part..she just had to have it (in talking about the role of "Anna Karenina"). When she utters that piece of dialog, I often wonder if a part of the actress Anne Bancroft didn't think concurrently about her longing to have played the film version of "Two for the Seesaw", but losing it to Shirley MacLaine.

    Anyway, check out "Two for the Seesaw"...it's a charming little movie.
  • This film is a good example of why I love black & white movies.

    Director Wise, cinematographer Ted McCord, and production

    designer Boris Leven craft light, shadow, and line into two hours of

    absolutely lovely images, making the most of such elements as

    the contrast between MacLaine's hair, eyes, and skin, and the

    juxtaposition of the hard lines of doorframes and shadows with

    the softness of rumpled fabric and fluid dancer's movement. (And I

    loved the split set.) Total eye candy for B&W lovers, and an

    incidental, abrupt reminder of what a beautiful woman the young

    Shirley was.

    Unfortunately, the script seems very dated here in the twenty-first

    century. The characters' relationship is frustrating, and (reported

    offscreen chemistry notwithstanding) MacLaine and Mitchum look

    very much mismatched. (Supposedly it was originally to be Liz

    Taylor and Paul Newman. I can't see Liz here, but a MacLaine- Newman pairing could have been hot. But we'll never know.) I

    found MacLaine's character to be much more believable--more

    rounded, containing more nuance--than Mitchum's. While this

    seems mostly the script's fault, I do feel that MacLaine here brings

    more quirky humanity to her work than does Mitchum (who I like

    very much in general).

    "Seesaw" stands out for me as one of those films that, because of

    its meticulous attention to visual detail, becomes an archetypal

    period piece as it ages--firmly among the films everyone making a

    movie set in the early 1960s should study carefully.
  • The writing is clever. The acting is great. Most of it is Mitchum and MacLaine, but the bit parts are fantastic, like the landlord.

    Most of all, Andre Previn did the music. It is so good that it was hard not to attend to it rather than the lines, but I managed.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie is very intelligent, sensitive, and appealing. The ending is honest and touching. So why does this movie feel so unsatisfactory? A big problem is the casting. The actors do not comfortably inhabit their roles. Although trying very hard, Shirley MacLaine gives us the impression of someone trying hard to be Jewish rather than someone who is, even with the set designer's help of a menorah on her mantelpiece. A Jew leading such a secular, not to mention sexually free, life is hardly likely to prominently display a Jewish symbol that Jews normally display only once a year, on the holiday for which it is used.

    But the character is also odd. Gittel says that if Jerry ever met her mother he would take off. That is the only reference to her family. From her accent and intonations she is plainly a lower-middle-class Jew from a background that is moral and conservative but crude, without education and culture. How and why did she get to be the way she is? Why does she think so little of herself that she thinks she has to sacrifice her self-respect and happiness to everyone else's? Mitchum is even stranger. He lopes into the movie like the lone gunfighter off the prairie, not like the lonely sad sack he is supposed to be. His charisma and intense sexuality are held in check, but he is still a much more attractive and self-possessed man than the part calls for. Also, he is much too old. Jerry need only be about five years older than Gittel, but Mitchum is old enough to be her father and, since she looks younger than her age, could almost be her grandfather. It makes you wonder why it has taken him so long to work out that he is so unhappy he wants to leave his wife. Also, it does not seem believable that he could stay even five minutes at the beatnik party without the women hitting on him. He never shows the vulnerable, lost quality that Jerry should have--you never believe he can't take care of himself and any trouble that comes along.

    At the time the film was made, it could just about get away without asking these questions, but now we are more skeptical and curious. Time has also exposed the inherent (though very well disguised) male chauvinism of the material. William Gibson's other successful play was The Miracle Worker. This one, though the characters are very different, has the same story, only this time both characters are working a miracle on each other--teaching each other self-knowledge and self-respect. But Jerry comes out with a lot more than Gittel. All she has is the self-respect (possibly--one suspects that she will slump back into her aimless, masochistic life). He has the loving wife and the nice house and the job and the stable community. In the end, this is a male fantasy--the man with the troubled marriage has a lot of sex with a pretty, much younger woman, who gives him the knowledge and the courage to go back to the life where he belongs. But what about the sex therapist? She LOSES the man she loves, and yet ends up thanking him for betraying her! (It's not likely that Jerry and Gittel, so very different, and he in a city where he feels uncomfortable, would have lasted very long together, but that's a separate issue.) Though Jerry is supposed to be curing Gittel of being, emotionally, the cobbler who has no shoes, he is the one who takes the most from her and then leaves. Her final speech that the next man she meets is going to have a lot to be grateful to him for sounds painful and phony, as if she is, once again, trying to make him feel better rather than caring for her own feelings.
  • These days women have names like Jennifer or Ashley, but Shirley MacLaine's memorable character in this film is named "Gittle". A Jewish girl in early '60s New York, she becomes involved with Jerry Ryan, (Robert Mitchum) an introspective, self loathing mid-western lawyer. The relationship becomes a bit complicated, and the two find their love cannot survive the rough seas of romance.

    Critics in 1962 complained about the lack of on screen chemistry between Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum, even though they began a real life romance directly after this film.
  • Shirley MacLaine (with an unconvincing New York accent that wavers constantly) plays a free-spirited beatnik who falls for a soon-to-be divorced attorney who's just moved to the big city to find himself. The film feels about a half hour too long and the pacing slugs along like molasses pouring out of a jar. MacLaine's character also suffers from terrible ulcers which leads to some seriously overdone melodrama towards the end of the film where she's acting like she's about to die of consumption. It makes everything cheesy. At least the ending is fairly realistic and not what one would expect from a film from the 60s.

    Maybe the play was better?
  • Two for the Seesaw is very heavy. It's one of those movies you watch once, appreciate the acting, and never want to see again.

    Robert Mitchum is getting a divorce, and in 1962, that's not a common occurrence. He picks up a loose dancer at a party, and in their mutual loneliness, they become really close really fast. Behind the scenes, Robert Mitchum and his leading lady Shirley MacLaine had an affair, and you can see the hurt and romance smoldering off the screen. Both actors do a fantastic job and handle a depressing script with realism rather than melodrama. Maybe it's because I knew they'd had an affair, but when they argued in the film, I almost felt embarrassed watching it, like I was intruding on a private argument. It's very powerful.

    However, it's a downer. It was based off a play, which is usually a clue that it's going to be depressing, and it absolutely is. Back in 1962, it wasn't common to make a movie about the highs and lows of one couple's relationship, as it is now. So, if you watch it, try not to compare it to its contemporaries and appreciate it on its own. Also, make sure you're in the right mood; if you're just coming out of a breakup, wait a while before renting it.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Two for the Seesaw is really the story of a second chance. An unlikely, difficult romance, between characters who have little in common, but their loneliness. You get that feeling ever since the sublime main titles, with Mitchum wandering in the black and white streets of New York. Later, Shirley MacLaine will also have a stylish, melancholy moment, when she practices ballet in a crummy, deserted studio. Jerry is a successful lawyer in Nebraska, who has never get around much, and now has lost everything, including the love of his wife Tess. He doubts his abilities to get by, both in a professional and personal point of view. Gittle, twenty-nine years old, is a divorced day-to-day dancer who'd like to open a class of her own. Behind her dreamy, charming smile, she hides failed relationships, forgotten ambitions and an ulcer. They meet quite by chance and decide to help each other, through their own frailties and struggles.

    Adapted from a play by William Gibson, the script offers many exteriors shots and several settings, but never quite believes in them. Sequences showing the protagonists outside, with other people are all very short, and the emphasis is put on their intimate confrontations, wherever they take place on the telephone or in one of their small flats. Text is evocative, a bit talkative even- and it describes the efforts both characters do to establish communication, and make some order in their mixed feelings. A special attention is made on the idea of giving : Jerry appears anxious to take care of someone, to regain self-esteem, while half-heartedly, he expresses his own needs for help. He also encourages generous Gittle to make a claim on him. But, the girl remarks, when two people love each other, why should they need to make any claim?

    Set in an atmospheric mood, in shadows of black, with beautiful Andre Previn score in the background, the film constantly drifts from raw, honest naturalism to a more sophisticated, classical drama. It's reminiscent of the New Wave (some scenes evoke Breathless) as well as Billy Wilder's The Apartment (MacLaine even goes to a Chinese restaurant) but the tone keeps a definitive identity until the very end. A bitter, feverish chronicle , it's the perfect illustration of an off-beat romance, with the awkwardness and the difficulty to understand each other coming over and ideal of mutual help. Frustrated in their feelings, the two leads are tempted by violence as a sure way of expression: Mitchum slaps his partner after a fight, and near the end, MacLaine seems eager to do the same with a cup. Gittle's illness, in the middle of the film, appears as a mean to reconcile them, and establish a kind of everyday routine, with Jerry finding back his sense of responsibility. But in fact, it drifts them further away: it seems Jerry can't bring himself to forget his ex-wife, and thus is unable to draw a line on his past. Gittle slow finding out of his nostalgia is really painful to watch. And the girl too, expects something more: a man, who will be completely hers. I couldn't help thinking of the Jack Lemmon character in The Apartment as a likely candidate for that.

    The conclusion, then, is that Jerry and Gittle were not made for each other. Still, it's not such a sad touch as it may seem. Both may reintegrate a well-planned universe they had hoped to get away from together, but it's their own decision. And they have discovered a lot of things about themselves, in the run of this relationship, that helped them advance and grow up. "He will be very grateful to you" Gittle says, of her future lover. "And her too", replies Jerry. "More than she'll ever know". A sad, messed-up romance it may be, but the farewells of the characters certainly are a success of maturity and empathy, beyond love. Directed by Robert Wise, in a stylish way, TFTS lies heavily on the shoulders of the leading performances. Mitchum and MacLaine happen to make a wonderful combination, with the right rate of instability, surprise and charm. An ordinary guy, shattered by his divorce and rather ill at ease in society, Jerry was an unusual part for Mitchum. His sad, tired gaze makes you believe in the scars of the man; and while he does not speak as loud as he should at times, he's distantly moving. MacLaine's Gittle apparently brings back a few memories of Fran Kubelik and Ginnie. She gives her a determined individuality, a radiant persona and her spontaneity, in the laughs and in the tears is so powerful it's bewildering. She's effortlessly touching and you buy her at once as the strongest of the couple. The supporting cast is hardly there at all, although one sees the shadows of Jerry boss in New-York, his two boheme friends, who have an arty flat and a high regard for matrimony, and of course the voice of his wife, Tess.

    MacLaine later revealed she had a three year affair with Mitchum, that began during the shooting. Usually, off-screen partners are not the best on a fictional level. Their own feelings make them awkward. But here, it is not the case. They have a terrific chemistry, and somehow, succeed in making you believe the story of Gittle and Jerry is how an ill-fated relationship should be lived. With classy honesty.
  • Two For The Seesaw as a two character play by William Gibson ran for 750 performances in the 1958-1959 season and starred Henry Fonda and Anne Bancroft as the uptight Nebraska lawyer and the Greenwich Village bohemian who find each other in New York. Why they didn't wait to get the two leads for this film version is beyond me. Both certainly are movie names and Henry Fonda certainly had the Nebraska twang to play the part. As for Bancroft, she was just coming off her Oscar for The Miracle Worker.

    When it comes to playing kookie people you can't do much better than Shirley MacLaine. She does a fabulous job, though in a few years the public might have demanded Barbra Streisand for the role. She holds her end up far better than her co-star.

    In the Lee Server Robert Mitchum biography, Robert Wise said that this was one of the few times he ever directed a film where the casting was already set before he was hired. Mitchum is much too unconventional in his way to ever really be believable as a family values Republican type lawyer from the midwest. It was mentioned in the book that such folks as Glenn Ford or Gregory Peck would have been more believable.

    However one thing did come out of it, a not so secret affair with Mitchum and MacLaine that did threaten the Mitchum marriage for a while. Lee Server also tells a story where both Malachy McCourt and Frank Sinatra visited the Two For The Seesaw set and went off on one fabulous drunk. You're talking about three professionals in that department.

    For the screen a few side characters were added to flesh it out. What interest there is in Two For The Seesaw comes from the interest MacLaine and Mitchum had for each other.
  • MieMar2 September 2011
    Very unexpected gem... but you gotta like them talky to love this one.

    Based on a play and that really shows. But LOVE the way it examines the nooks and crannies of a relationship.

    Its about two people who have something to learn from each other, and not in an obvious way either. Who is hanging their hope and dreams on who here...? And completely disagree with those who find Mitchum too deadpan for this... he is completely his character, a old school guy of another generation (compared to Gittel, or MacLaine for that matter)... but enough of an off-beat to head to New York to live with some bed bugs once his marriage goes south. The phone calls between him and his wife are painful, Mitchum who himself had a long suffering wife who he had married young and ultimately stuck by (despite, apparently being super unfaithful), I think gives a very brave performance, possibly inspired by the cheer chutzpah of MacLaine's talent. He really shows the complex emotional ties that come with a very long marriage....for the generations who really, without a second thought, thought they married for life.

    The emotional tables are turned on them both several times, and you always think its completely true.

    There are a couple of clunky moments, and you must honestly also just take it on the chin (pun) that this was made in an era when a "slutty" woman could expect to be slapped for flaunting her "lack of morality". Here its all part of her problem though, the way she accepts how others treat her, much too readily.

    Great, very little known film that seems to fit no genre what so ever.

    Maybe its closest relatives are some french new wave relationship dramas. And those it beats, hands down. Because, unlike the Le French, its not about Women and Men but about people...
  • Robert Mitchum lays a lawyer whose marriage back in Nebraska has just dissolved. Now, he's moved to New York and is very lonely. So lonely that he calls a woman (Shirley MacLaine) he barely knows. They go out and have a few laughs, then they go to her apartment. There, things move very quickly for a 1962 movie--surprisingly quickly, as he tries to get her to let him stay. At first, she's a bit put off--then she decides to sleep with him. At this point, however, he decides to leave--it's just moving too fast. Throughout the film the two are very open about sex and the dialog is quite gritty and realistic as well. Later, they even cohabitate--something you NEVER would have seen in the 1950s.

    Now these two people seem very, very different. Mitchum is well-spoken and a professional man from the Midwest. MacLaine is more a head-in-the-clouds Bohemian who is a Jewish New Yorker. Can two people THIS different fall in love and have it last? As you watch this film, you naturally assume the answer is no, as they just seem so unlike each other, argue an awful lot and what brings them together is difficult to put into words. In many ways, this odd relationship that defies the odds seems very reminiscent of THE WAY WE WERE (and you probably know how that film ended).

    Unfortunately, because the chemistry seems so odd in this film and the film is quite talky and stagy (it was originally a very successful Broadway play--and it shows), it's not a great film. Most of the problem is that although the dialog seems realistic, the combination of the two characters isn't. Why were they together in the first place other than they were lonely? And why did the movie seem to go on so long? So overall is it worth seeing? Perhaps, though this sure isn't a glowing recommendation.

    By the way, in a very disturbing scene, eventually Mitchum slaps MacLaine pretty hard. And, the way the film is made, it seems as if SHE drove him to it. Not exactly an enlightened scene and something that just seems wrong. And, not to be outdone, late in the film, she hits him as well!
  • Handlinghandel18 August 2003
    Probably sweet and even touching onstage, at two hours, with essentially only two characters, this is lethal.

    Shirley MacLaine plays a hapless New York Jewish girl. One asks: Why? Made up to look like a cross between Molly Goldberg and Betty Boop, she is appealing but never convincing.

    Robert Mitchum (who, according to his biography, began a serious romance with his co-star during the filming; and chemistry there is) is appealing, as he generally is. But, with a strange, shiny hair style and his typical laconic style, he too seems like extremely illogical casting.
  • Many good reviews of this film here already. I'm just going to focus on the similarities to my personal favourite film The Apartment and make one other observation.

    Clearly since Two For The Seesaw was made by the same company, the Mirisch Corporation just two years after Wilder's film this was an attempt to follow up (cash in?) on the success of that one. Shirley Maclaine stars in both but now playing a rather less idealised character. I wonder if Jack Lemmon turned down the chance to play the male lead because Robert Mitchum is not conventional enough to be really convincing. The soundtracks of both films are very similar and that can't be a coincidence even allowing for the tastes of the period. Even some of the sets look almost identical. Would they still exist from The Apartment? I'm not sure.

    Someone obviously saw possibilities in the original stage play to transfer it to film as The Apartment 2. In my view however because the tone of Two For The Seesaw is different from The Apartment it might have benefited from being handled differently rather than accentuating the similarities.

    And my other observation is this: At one point Mitchum whacks Maclaine across the face, knocking her to the floor and she hardly objects. It was probably shocking at the time but is beyond disgusting today. It means the film and no doubt the play will likely remain period pieces for ever more. Contrast that to the sunnier tone of The Apartment when Lemmon gets clobbered. It's funny and touching because we know he didn't deserve it, although in the context of the film he has it coming to him.
  • kenjha29 December 2010
    A divorcing man from Nebraska comes to NYC and falls in love with a Jewish woman named Gittel. This drama is based on a two-character play that was a big hit on Broadway, which is surprising because this has to be one of the most dreary plays ever written. Wise, in this follow-up to the energetic "West Side Story," does nothing to enliven the proceedings here. The film is little more than a filmed stage play where the two characters talk and talk and talk non-stop. And very rarely do they say anything profound or witty. Given the vintage of the film, it's surprisingly frank in terms of sexual mores. Mitchum and MacLaine do the best they can with the boring dialog.
  • In spite of Ted McCord's beautiful deep focus b&w photography there is very little in this film that is interesting to look at. As a stage play brought to film, it never manages to get off the stage and with all of NYC as a potential set, a little more time devoted to exterior shots could have opened this up and made it into a 'real' film. A few brief glimpses of lower Manhattan, Mitchum pacing the streets in the opening sequence or stalking MacLaine from the shadows outside her apartment gives a taste of what this film could have been if Wise hadn't allowed himself to become hidebound by a talky script.

    Mitchum is clearly miscast - it almost feels like the overabundant dialog is being dragged out of him. But since it is Mitchum, and he's such a force of nature on screen, it's hard to mind too much - but also hard not to consider that Fonda would have been a much more appropriate choice. As it is, MacLaine has a lot of work to do to convince us that Mitch is the guy for her. She almost succeeds (no doubt the off screen chemistry between the two stars helped her a bit with this), but most of the pleasure in her performance derives from that lovable slob thing that she could do falling out of bed, as she proved so ably in Some Came Running. Problem is, she is a comedienne and Mitch most definitely was not. She could snap out those one-liners, "That must have been some bridge!", and get a laugh. If Mitch said anything funny, I must have missed it.

    Unfortunately most of the film is shot in two tiny, claustrophobic apartments with very few changes in camera angle which made me think that Wise could take a tip or two from Ozu on how to make a repeatedly shot interior more interesting. When we aren't gazing listlessly at one or the other of these stupefying spaces, we are treated to a stale looking split screen shot of both a la Pillow Talk. Except that this doesn't really remind me so much of Pillow Talk, and not that I ever wanted to be reminded of it, as make me wonder if the original stage set had been carted in.

    Some relief is provided by Elizabeth Fraser as MacLaine's friend Sophie and Billy Gray as the cranky landlord. At least they get us out of the house before we go stir crazy to visit a few post beat generation Bohemian style parties and MacLaine's dance studio loft space. Early on we do get to go out to for Chinese once with a real live waiter (yay!), but that is soon buried under endless home cooked meals, warm milk and the perennial opening and closing of fridge doors. It's oddly underpopulated for a Manhattan film - think the World the Flesh and the Devil - without cityscapes...

    Previn's score, loved by many but sorry, I've never been a fan of that overly loud 60s jazz style. Beyond that, it threatens to over power the film by setting a jazzy New York tone that the proceedings simply can't live up to. No matter how hard the music tries, what we see is never in sync with what we hear.

    Worth a watch for MacLaine's perf and McCord's lensing, but not one of Wise's better efforts.
  • Oy, is this a talky two hours! It's too bad, because this film has so much going for it. Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum give excellent performances, but that's exactly what they are – performances. As good as she is at playing "kooky" characters, MacLaine is never convincing as a Jewish girl from The Bronx. Mitchum is his charismatic self, but wooden in his line readings. Beautiful black and white photography of New York and a moody soundtrack recall a time when movies mattered, but the endless, stilted, stage bound dialog ultimately goes nowhere. It's enough to drive any viewer to distraction. The story, what there is of it, appears too dated to resonate with contemporary audiences.
  • A tale of 'love will not find a way' as Robert Mitchum manfully looks for a member of the 'weaker sex' in New York. The story is somewhat repetitive as trad-male Mitchum tells modern girl Shirley MacLaine she is 'a beautiful girl' on numerous occasions. Both actors are very competent in this flick, with Shirl the 'girl' showing just how good she is, edging out Robert as MVP. There are scenes of domestic violence, with Ms MacLaine on the verge of rearranging Mr Mitchum's face because he hadn't informed her of his divorce papers coming through.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A film adaptation of the popular Broadway play of the same title, with different players. A middle-aged lawyer (Robert Mitchum, as Jerry), from the Midwest, and a mid-twenties rootless Greenwich Village woman(Shirley McLaine, as Gittel) somehow wind up in Gittel's apartment, after Jerry's haltering attempts to establish a connection. Gittel takes pity on Jerry, who owns up to being practically broke, sleeping with bedbugs, rather than a new dream girl to replace his divorcing wife of 12 years. She offers her bed(without her) for the night, after a bath. This was a very risky and unlikely move on Gittel's part. However, they soon establish some rapport, despite their very different backgrounds, ages, and personalities. Looks like we may be set up for a reluctant buddy comedy. But, it's not to be. While the layed back Gittel has potential for making humor, the staid Jerry doesn't seem to have one funny bone in his body, and retains his formal demeaner, for the most part.........Gittel is fun to watch and listen to before and after meeting Jerry, during the first hour. But, when things get more serious ,during the second hour, she's not nearly as much fun, and Jerry is still no fun..........Things gradually heat up a bit romantically, and they even manage a couple of hard kisses, with hugs. But, this being the early '60s, no hint of going further. Jerry becomes more confident of his new identity has he begins to plug into the NYC lawyer scene. However, Gittel, who claims being a dancer as her outside identity, seems none too diligent in practicing it. Nonetheless, after he gains some financial security, Jerry buys her a place where she can practice her dancing. However, when Jerry finds out that Gittel spent the evening with a sometimes boyfriend, he slaps her hard on her cheek, knocking her down, based on the implicit assumption that he now was her exclusive romantic interest. Later, when Gittel gets Jerry to admit that he has known for 2 weeks that his wife obtained a divorce, without telling Gittel, she returns the 'favor', doubly, slapping him on both cheeks. This is the signal that their affair is soon coming to an end. Gittel has gotten the impression that Jerry is still somewhat emotionally tied to his wife, and doesn't want divided loyalty by Jerry............I have to say that I believe that Mitchum, with his largely, deadpan demeaner here, was badly miscast. I think Paul Newman, for instance, would have made a much more interesting Jerry, besides being 8 years younger than Mitchum, thus somewhat closing the age gap. Sometimes opposites attract, at least at first. But, in this case, such attraction wasn't strong enough to last ...........The relationship between Jerry and Gittel much reminds me of the way my wife and I met. I was in my mid-forties, as was Mitchum. My future wife was 25,,as was Shirley. I had recently flown from the US to her country, on the other side of the globe. She is ethnically a SE Asian, while I am a Caucasian. Fortunately, she spoke a bit of English, and communicated that she wanted to have a western husband and live somewhere in the West. It didn't take too many days, while traveling around Bali, to figure out that we were meant for each other. Unlike Mitchum, I was not formal and reserved, and she was also very open. I also differed from Jerry in that I was not hamstrung by an impending divorce. We soon married, and are still happily together now 30 years later. Now, she mostly supports me, rather than I supporting her, as in the beginning. Once again, this demonstrates that if you have 2 'right' people of very different ages and cultures, there is a good chance they can make a successful marriage.
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