Thursday, April 6, 2017

For Love or Money: When Kirk and Mitzi Played Rock and Doris

Mitzi Gaynor and Kirk Douglas.
Made in 1963, For Love or Money is one of those mildly suggestive 1960s romps made famous by the classic comedy team of Rock Hudson and Doris Day. It even features two veterans of the Rock-Doris films: Thelma Ritter and Gig Young. Indeed, the only major difference is that For Love or Money stars Kirk Douglas and Mitzi Gaynor.

Kirk plays Deke Gentry, an attorney hired by wealthy Chloe Brasher (Thelma Ritter) to smooth over the financial difficulties that have arisen between her and her three grown daughters. Deke can also pocket an extra $100,000 if he can match up each daughter with Mom's selected suitor. Considering that Deke spends more than he earns, the extra cash sounds mighty good.

Julie Newmar as Bonnie.
The daughters are an eclectic trio consisting of: Bonnie, a fitness guru (Julie Newmar); Jan, a hippie art enthusiast (Leslie Parrish); and Kate, a motivational researcher (Mitzi Gaynor). Though it requires some elaborate planning, Deke pairs off Bonnie with an IRS agent (Dick Sargent) and Jan with a childhood friend (William Windom) who rehabilitates convicts through art. However, his plans to match up Kate with his wealthy best friend Sonny (Gig Young) keep going awry. In fact, Kate begins to suspect that Sonny is a figment of Deke's imagination.

For Love or Money is an amusing comedy that lacks the sharp wit behind genre classics such as Pillow Talk (1959) or Lover Come Back (1961). Still, it's a better movie than some of the later individual efforts by Rock (e.g., A Very Special Favor) and Doris (e.g., Do Not Disturb). It could have used more of Thema Ritter and, at 108 minutes, it's easily ten minutes too long and lumbers to the expected finish.

Mitzi in a stunning orange Jean
Louis gown with a white coat.
The film's greatest strength is its two stars. Amazingly, Mitzi Gaynor only made seventeen feature films, preferring to concentrate on television specials and her nightclub act (I saw her perform live in a 1990 touring production of Anything Goes). She comes across as a natural comedienne in For Love or Money and generates plenty of sex appeal in some stunning Jean Louis outfits. This would turn out to be her final film appearance.

As for Kirk Douglas, it's easy to forget his versatility as an actor. During his career, he starred in action films (The Vikings), Westerns (Man Without a Star), hard-hitting dramas (The Detective Story), political thrillers (Seven Days in May), and mysteries (The List of Adrian Messenger). So, it should come as no surprise that he seems completely at home in a romantic comedy. Indeed, Douglas often exhibited a playful side even in his serious roles. So, perhaps, it's surprising that he didn't make more straight comedies during his lengthy career.

For Love or Money is one of eight movies featured on the modestly-priced DVD set Kirk Douglas: The Centennial Collection. Some of the others include Spartacus, Lonely Are the Brave, Man Without a Star, and The List of Adrian Messenger.


  1. Golly, I haven't even thought about this movie in years, but once you blew away the cobwebs I remember how I enjoyed it.

  2. Enjoyed this movie. Really laughed at the scene where Gig Young and Mitzi Gaynor are doing the twist on the dance floor and an angry Kirk Douglas interrupts them and argues with her while they're both doing the twist. And Gig Young is funny as he twists his way out of the action and Douglas keeps twisting even after the music changes to a slower rhythm.

  3. The entire film is available at:

  4. Oh, we tried this movie and gave it up after about 15 minutes. The humor didn't age well. The 8-pack, however, was well worth what we paid for it, especially "Lonely Are the Brave" and the two Westerns. The only other dog was "A Lovely Way to Die".

  5. I enjoyed "For Love or Money" quite a bit. It was fun to see Kirk and Mitzi channel Rock and Doris! The movie was additionally fun to watch to see Mitzi's wardrobe. And I never tire of Thelma Ritter.