|Steve McQueen as Fergie.|
McQueen plays Lieutenant Fergie Howard, who hatches a scheme to take advantage of a state-of-the-art computer--the Magnetic Analyzer Computer Synchrotron--on board his ship. With the help of a scientific genius pal (Jim Hutton) and a gullible fellow officer (Jack Mullaney), Fergie plans to make a fortune playing the roulette wheel at a Venice casino.
|Paula Prentiss as a wiener heiress.|
The screenplay for The Honeymoon Machine was written by Lorenzo Semple, Jr. and George Wells. It was based on Semple's 1959 Broadway play The Golden Fleecing, which starred Tom Poston as Fergie. Constance Ford and (Poston's future wife) Suzanne Pleshette played the female leads. The film version was Semple's first big screen credit. He would go on to write major films such as Papillon (1973) and Three Days of the Condor (1975)--though he is best known for creating the original Batman TV series.
Steve McQueen was not the first choice to play Lt. Fergie Howard. MGM wanted Cary Grant for the part (yes, for a role originated by Tom Poston!). When Grant passed, the studio cast McQueen, who had just been signed to a three-picture deal. According to several sources, McQueen didn't like The Honeymoon Machine and walked out of a screening of it. He certainly doesn't put forth much effort on the screen. It's not a bad performance, but clearly McQueen seems to be relying on little more than his natural charisma.
|Jack Weston as Signalman Taylor.|
The always affable Hutton was paired with Paula Prentiss in five films. Their height had something to do with the casting--Hutton was 6'5" and Prentiss 5'11"--but they also displayed an effective on-screen chemistry. They make The Honeymoon Machine an entertaining endeavor--though it's one of those frothy 1960s comedies that once consumed is easily forgotten.
The irrelevant title is a reference to "Operation Honeymoon," a missile project involving the computer in the opening scene of the movie. It has nothing to do with the rest of the film!