Independent Films, Film Profiles
My Geisha (1962) is an American film directed by Jack Cardiff, starring Yves Montand, Shirley MacLaine, and Edward G. Robinson, and released by Paramount Pictures. The film was produced by MacLaine's then-husband Steve Parker, and written by Norman Krasna, based on Krasna's story of the same name.Paul Robaix (Montand), a famous director, wants to shoot a film in Japan inspired by Madama Butterfly. His wife, an actress named Lucy Dell (MacLaine), has been the leading lady in all of his greatest films, and she is more famous than he. He feels that she overshadows him and he would like to achieve success independent of her. By choosing to film Madame Butterfly, he can select a different leading lady without hurting her feelings, because she, as a blue eyed, red headed woman, would not be suitable to play a Japanese woman. As a surprise, she visits him in Japan while he's searching for a leading lady. To surprise him further, she disguises herself as a geisha at a dinner party, planning to unveil her identity during the meal.But she is delighted to discover that everyone at the dinner party, including her husband, believes her to be a Japanese woman. When she learns that the studio has decided to only give her husband enough funds to film the movie in black and white because there are no big stars in the film, she decides that she will audition for the role of Butterfly, without telling her husband, but that the studio will know and therefore give him the budget he needs to make the film he wants.She gets the part and is wonderful. He starts having feelings for her alter ego, Yoko, and wishes his wife could be more like her. She worries that he could cheat on her, even with herself...When viewing the film's negatives, with the colors reversed, he figures out her duplicity and, thinking she is doing it to steal credit from him so that once again he will not get the artistic praise he craves, he becomes furious. To retaliate, he decides to proposition Yoko. Greatly distressed, she flees, and decides to divorce him when the film is over.Their "reunion" before the premiere is cold, Paul believing she will betray him and Lucy believing that Paul was going to sleep with Yoko. Her original plan was, at the end of the premiere, to reveal Yoko's true identity, which will astound Hollywood and practically guarantee her an Oscar. Instead, thinking of the lessons she learned from playing a geisha, she takes off her geisha makeup, appears as herself, tells everyone that Yoko went into a convent and will no longer be performing, and keeps her identity secret. She and her husband reconcile when he informs Lucy that he knew she was Yoko.
Year of Production: 1962
Length: 119 min
Country: United States
- Jack Cardiff
- Steve Parker
- Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson