49 Years Ago Today…

If It’s Tuesday, It Must Be Belgium opened. One of a very few movies starring Suzanne Pleshette that I like (others being Rome Adventure and The Birds). Heard that she thought herself a bigger and more importnat movie star than she actually was. Inspired by a New Yorker cartoon and a television documentary, the amusing film directed by Mel Stuart starred Ian McShane as a charming womanizing tour guide who shuffles a group of wacky American tourists (Pleshette, Mildred Natwick, Michael Constantine, Sandy Baron, Norman, Fell, Reva Rose, etc.) around Europe.  Drive-In Dream Girl Hilarie Thompson was cast as the perky Shelly Ferguson (described by Thompson as being “a silly little girl trying to be hip”). Her parents played by Murray Hamilton and Peggy Cass bring Shelly along on their vacation to keep her from having sex with her boyfriend back home. But to their chagrin, Shelly falls for a young hippie named Bo (Luke Halpin) in Amsterdam.

Recalling making the movie, Hilarie Thompson said in Drive-In Dream Girls:

“This was complete magic but Mel Stuart was a tough director. He was very hard on poor Luke Halpin. I felt badly for Luke who was a sweet guy. I never had any trouble with tyrants so Mel and I got along fine. To be fair to Mel, he must have been going crazy traveling across Europe with a troupe of actors. Stan Margulies was the producer and he was a wonderful man.

Making If It’s Tuesday, This Must Be Belgium was incredible because we filmed throughout Europe for three months. I was nineteen at the time and had not moved out of my parents’ home yet. They flew me to England all by myself. We started there and went to Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg, Venice, and Rome. It was first class all the way and an unbelievable experience. Everybody was delightful to work with. I hung out mostly with the younger cast members but I did enjoy the older actors as well. I was particularly friendly with Sandy Baron. He was very serious and intense about his work. Marty Ingels was just having a good old time and Michael Constantine was a darling man—I loved him.”

 

Comments: 4

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  • Michael H

    One of my favorite movies from the late sixties too. Although you are not a fan of Suzanne Pleshette, she was in rare form on a series of interviews for the Archive Of American Television. Her stories about working with Hitchcock, Patty Duke, and Peter Falk are terrific. She also talks about her guest star appearences on Route 66, Columbo, and The Fugitive All of the interviews are on You Tube.

    Michael

     
     
     
    • I agree. Very fun movie. Thanks for the info on the interviews. She is quite funny.

       
  • Steve L.

    Nice to remember a movie I had long forgotten. Regarding your comments about Suzanne. I was a waiter in ‘Ma Maison’ in the 80s and knew Ms Pleshette very well. She came in a couple times a week and even had her own ketchup left in our kitchen! She was a wonderful, funny woman, a true broad. She was also incredibly well connected in Hollywood and she ran with the A+ list and the real power brokers – Sinatra, Hitchcock, Streisand, Steve McQueen, Aaron Spelling, Lee Wasserman, Johnny Carson….. I suspect any ego she had came from being so connected and genuinely beloved by these folks. However, regarding her career she was very down to earth and never pretended to be anything she wasn’t. I was really only familiar with Newhart at that time and Ms Pleshette joked with me once that she was disappointed that only 90% of her movies were on the worst list. She thought it should have been higher! I also thought it reflected well that after Newhart was off the air she would come in with her former Newhart costars, and I mean the second and third bananas not Mr Newhart. She had a very kind, patient husband and they seemed to have great respect for one another. Never saw them turn away a fan or say a bad thing to a server. Thanks for taking me down memory lane. I’m going to rewatch this movie – last saw it in the 90s.

     
     
     
    • Thanks for sharing. Just know that she declined an interview for a book about 60s actresses (not one of mine) because she felt her movie career was in a higher league than some of the other interviewees. It wasn’t.

      What a great job you had. Did you ever meet Carol Lynley?

       
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