Release date18 January 1962 (World Premiere, London) WriterNorman Krasna (screenplay), Norman Krasna (story) CastShirley MacLaine (Lucy Dell / Yoko Mori), Yves Montand (Paul Robaix), Edward G. Robinson (Sam Lewis), Robert Cummings (Bob Moore), Yoko Tani (Kazumi Ito), Tatsuo Saitô (Kenichi Takata) Similar moviesGinza Cosmetics, Wife! Be Like a Rose!, Late Chrysanthemums, Memoirs of a Geisha, The Apartment, In the Realm of the Senses
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My Geisha is a 1962 American comedy film directed by Jack Cardiff, starring Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson and Bob Cummings and released by Paramount Pictures. Written by Norman Krasna, based on Krasna's story of the same name, the film was produced and copyrighted in 1961 by MacLaine's then-husband Steve Parker. The world premiere was at the Plaza Theatre in London's West End on January 18, 1962.
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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. 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. Through the course of the film Lucy Dell begins to become concerned that Yoko will steal her husband's affections, though he never did develop feelings for "Yoko".
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 deserves, he becomes furious. To retaliate, he decides to proposition Yoko. Greatly distressed, she flees. Paul then entertains the idea of divorce for what he sees as him being betrayed by his wife.
Their "reunion" before the premiere is cold, Paul believing she will expose her identity there for betraying him, and Lucy believing that Paul was trying 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, her then trusted friend, Kazumi, gives her a present of a fan that was owned by a very popular geisha. The fan was inscribed with the saying: "No one before you, my husband, not even I." So, 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.
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