What a Way to Go! is a 1964 American comedy film directed by J. Lee Thompson and starring Shirley MacLaine, Paul Newman, Robert Mitchum, Dean Martin, Gene Kelly, Margaret Dumont, Bob Cummings and Dick Van Dyke.
The audience sees four lampoons of film styles as interludes in the story. In order, we see lampoons of silent film comedy, French New Wave with jump cuts, Ross Hunter fashion-heavy eye-candy films, big 1940's Hollywood musicals, and a spoof of Cleopatra.
Originally intended as a Marilyn Monroe vehicle, recast after her death.
Shirley MacLaine was quoted as saying that she was happy to work with "Edith Head with a $500,000 budget, seventy-two hairstylists to match the gowns, and a three-and-a-half-million-dollar gem collection loaned out by Harry Winston of New York. Pretty good perks, I'd say."
Robert Mitchum's role was originally meant for Frank Sinatra but Sinatra suddenly wanted several times more money than what the other male leads received. The studio refused Sinatra's demands; Gregory Peck was sought but he was unavailable. Shirley MacLaine recommended Mitchum to director J. Lee Thompson who recommended him to the studio.