The Opposite Sex

The Opposite Sex is a 1956 American musical romantic comedy film shot in Metrocolor and CinemaScope.[3][4] The film was directed by David Miller and stars June Allyson, Joan Collins, Dolores Gray, Ann Sheridan, Ann Miller, Leslie Nielsen, Jeff Richards, Agnes Moorehead, Charlotte Greenwood, Joan Blondell, Sam Levene, Dick Shawn, Jim Backus, Bill Goodwin, and Harry James.

The Opposite Sex
Theatrical poster
Directed byDavid Miller
Produced byJoe Pasternak
Screenplay byFay Kanin
Michael Kanin
Based onThe Women
1936 play
by Clare Boothe Luce
StarringJune Allyson
Joan Collins
Dolores Gray
Ann Sheridan
Ann Miller
Joan Blondell
Leslie Nielsen
Narrated byAnn Sheridan
Music byNicholas Brodszky
Sammy Cahn
Ralph Freed
George Stoll
CinematographyRobert Bronner
Edited byJohn McSweeney
Distributed byMetro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date
  • October 26, 1956 (1956-10-26)
Running time
117 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,760,000[1][2]

The Opposite Sex is a remake of the 1939 classic comedy The Women. Both films are based on Clare Boothe Luce's original 1936 play.[5]


The story concerns Kay Hilliard (June Allyson), a former nightclub singer who discovers her husband Steven (Leslie Nielsen) is having an affair with showgirl Crystal Allen (Joan Collins). Kay is the last to find out among her circle of gossiping girlfriends. Kay travels to Reno to divorce from Steve who then marries Crystal, but when Kay finds out that Crystal isn't true to Steve she starts fighting to win her ex-husband back.


Production notes

Unlike the 1936 play and the 1939 film adaptation, The Opposite Sex includes musical numbers and features male actors who portray the husbands and boyfriends, whose characters were only referred to in the previous film and stage versions.[6] This alters the structure and tone of the base storyline significantly.

Fay Kanin who co wrote the script with her husband Michael said the studio's argument was "you can't play a love scene alone." Michael said the studio "felt the movie audience would be somehow be disappointed at not seing men in it. After all, a man is a fact."[7]

Fay Kanin thought the "manless world" of the play "was a stunt, an artificial trick, but it was accepted. But in a movie, which has the freedom to go out, the device would seem constrained and self conscious." Michael claimed "we only put in men to relieve the strain - and only when they are called for."[7]

The Kanins gave the story a showbusiness background to help justify it being turned into a musical although "there are no big production numbers," according to Fay Kanin.[7]

Elaine Stewart was promised Joan Collin's role prior to filming. Grace Kelly was supposed to have June Allyson's role, but she retired from acting prior to filming. MGM studio head Dore Schary envisioned Esther Williams in June Allyson's role. According to her 2000 autobiography, The Million Dollar Mermaid, Williams objected to Schary's casting suggestion, resulting in her suspension from the studio. Shortly after, on agent Lew Wasserman's advice, she left Metro after fourteen years.[8] Eleanor Parker was later cast as Kay Hilliard but was replaced by June Allyson.[9]

Jo Ann Greer dubbed Allyson's ballad "A Perfect Love".

In November 1955 Joe Pasternak was pursuing Marlene Dietrich and Miriam Hopkins.[10] In December 1955 MGM announced the lead roles would be played by June Allyson, Dolores Gray, Ann Miller (as the husband stealer), and Leslie Neilsen with filming to begin January 16, 1956.[11]


According to MGM records the film earned $1,735,000 in the US and Canada and $1,025,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $1,513,000.[1]

Award nomination

The film was nominated for a Best Musical or Comedy Picture Golden Globe Award in 1957.

See also


  1. The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  2. Domestic results see "Top Grosses of 1957", Variety, 8 January 1958: 30
  3. Variety film review; September 19, 1956, page 6.
  4. Harrison's Reports film review; September 22, 1956, page 151.
  5. Snodgrass, Mary Ellen (2009). Encyclopedia of Feminist Literature. Infobase Publishing. p. 340. ISBN 1-438-10910-5.
  6. Kennedy, Matthew (2007). Joan Blondell: A Life Between Takes. Univ. Press of Mississippi. p. 166. ISBN 1-604-73300-4.
  7. 'Opposite Sex' Being Filmed to Include the Opposite Sex Scheuer, Philip K. Los Angeles Times 19 Feb 1956: D2.
  8. Williams, Esther (2000). The Million Dollar Mermaid: An Autobiography. Harvest Books. pp. 266–267. ISBN 0-156-01135-2.
  9. McClelland, Doug (2001). Eleanor Parker: Woman of a Thousand Faces. Rowman & Littlefield. p. 231. ISBN 0-810-84836-8.
  10. Drama: Ann Sheridan to Do 'The Opposite Sex' Los Angeles Times 26 Nov 1955: A6.
  11. Drama: Stellar Array Assured for 'Opposite Sex' Los Angeles Times 9 Dec 1955: B11.
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