AFI Movie Club: WHAT A WAY TO GO! – American Film Institute
What A Way To Go Film Still - Gene Kelly and Shirley MacLaine



WHAT A WAY TO GOstars the 40th AFI Life Achievement Award recipient, Shirley MacLaine, and also features Gene Kelly who received the 13th AFI Life Achievement!

Watch Demi Moore announce the film:


Movie Trivia about WHAT A WAY TO GO!

DID YOU KNOW publicist-turned-producer Arthur P. Jacobs initially acquired Gwen Davis’ story “I Love Louisa” – the original source material for WHAT A WAY TO GO! – for his longtime client Marilyn Monroe? . Elizabeth Taylor was also attached to star at one point. 

DID YOU KNOW Adolph Green and Betty Comden – most famous for writing the classic movie musical SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN – penned the script for the film? 

DID YOU KNOW actors considered to play Louisa May Foster’s different husbands included Frank Sinatra, Burt Lancaster, Kirk Douglas and Tony Curtis—none of whom were retained for the final film. 

DID YOU KNOW Shirley MacLaine and Robert Mitchum had previously worked together on Robert Wise’s TWO FOR THE SEESAW? 

DID YOU KNOW the extravagant production included 72 costume changes for Shirley MacLaine? The cost of costumes was estimated at $375,000, including a $10,000 fox fur coat and diamonds by Harry Winston! 

DID YOU KNOW the shopping and sewing for the film was split between teams at Fox and Paramount Pictures, both of which hired extra staff to support iconic Hollywood designer Edith Head? 

DID YOU KNOW J. Lee Thomas originally wanted to cast MacLaine’s daughter, Sachi Parker, as the nine-year-old version of her mother’s character, Louisa? This did not come to fruition because MacLaine did not want Parker to miss school.

Learn more at the AFI Catalog.


The movie doesn’t end at the credits: Family-friendly Discussion Questions

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram now using #AFIMovieClub. Or post your responses in the comment section below.

-How do you think the film would have been different had Marilyn Monroe or Elizabeth Taylor played the lead? 

-What does Shirley MacLaine bring to the role that was all of her own? 

-How does the film embody the over-the-top camp of the 1960s? 

-How had the Hollywood Studio System evolved by this point in time? 

-How does the film parody conventional genres? 

-Well-respected screenwriters Adolph Green and Betty Comden penned the script. What is your favorite of their collaborations together? 

-What do you think of Edith Head’s lavish costumes for the film? 

-What was your favorite part about the production design? 

-How would you rate WHAT A WAY TO GO? 


In this exclusive AFI Archive video, watch Shirley MacLaine sing at Gene Kelly’s AFI Life Achievement Award tribute:

New to AFI Movie Club? Want to learn more?

AFI has created a global, virtual gathering of those who love the movies. Each day’s film is accompanied by fun facts, family-friendly discussion points and material from the AFI Archive to enrich your viewing experience.

Learn more in our FAQ section.

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Comments (1)

Kimberly K Orndoff

I wanted to ask if it is possible to purchase the 40th AFI Lifetime Achievement Award for Shirley Maclaine via your website.
Thank you.
Kimberly Orndoff

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