The Gazebo

The Gazebo
Directed by George Marshall
Produced by Lawrence Weingarten
Written by Myra Coppel
Screenplay by George Wells
Based on The Gazebo
1958 play
by Alec Coppel
Frederick Brisson
Starring Glenn Ford
Debbie Reynolds
Carl Reiner
John McGiver
Music by Jeff Alexander
Cinematography Paul Vogel
Edited by Adrienne Fazan
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release dates
  • December 16, 1959 (1959-12-16) (U.S.)
  • July 24, 1960 (1960-07-24) (UK)
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,218,000[1]
Box office $3.31 million[1]

The Gazebo is a 1959 black comedy CinemaScope film about a married couple who are being blackmailed. It was based on the play of the same name by Alec Coppel and directed by George Marshall. Helen Rose was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design, Black-and-White. According to MGM records, the film earned $1,860,000 in North America and $1,450,000 elsewhere, making a profit of $628,000.[1]


Television writer and director Elliott Nash (Glenn Ford) is being blackmailed by Dan Shelby (voice of Stanley Adams) over nude photographs of his wife Nell (Debbie Reynolds), taken when she was 18 years old. Elliott does not inform Nell, the star of a Broadway musical, what is going on, but works feverishly to make enough money to pay off the ever-increasing demands.

Finally, Elliott decides that murder is the only way out. He makes preparations, incorporating some advice from a friend, District Attorney Harlow Edison (Carl Reiner). When the blackmailer shows up at the Nashes' suburban home as arranged to collect his latest payment, Elliott shoots him, then hides the body in the concrete foundation being poured for the antique gazebo his wife has bought. He has to keep Sam Thorpe (John McGiver), the contractor hired to install the structure, and Miss Chandler (Mabel Albertson), the real estate agent trying to sell the Nashes' house, from stumbling across his scheme.

Then, Harlow brings news that Shelby has been shot and killed ... in his hotel room, leaving Elliott wondering who he murdered. Nell's name is on a list of blackmail victims belonging to Shelby, so both Elliott and she are suspects. (As it turns out, Shelby approached Nell first, but was rejected; the publicity would have greatly boosted the musical's audience.) They are cleared when the murder weapon is found to belong to Joe the Black, an associate of Shelby's. It is clear to Lieutenant Jenkins (Bert Freed) that Joe decided not to split the money. Elliott is relieved to discover his victim was a criminal.

However, two others were in the gang. The Duke (Martin Landau) and Louis the Louse (Dick Wessel) kidnap Nell and take her to her home. They followed Joe the Black to the Nash house, and know he did not come out. They want the briefcase (containing $100,000) with which he was planning to disappear. They eventually figure out that the body is in the gazebo's foundation, now crumbling due to unexpected rain. They find the briefcase and leave. When Elliott gets home, he unties his wife and confesses what he has done.

While they are trying to figure out what to do next, Lieutenant Jenkins shows up with his prisoners, the Duke and Louis. From what they have told him, Jenkins is sure that Elliott is a murderer. Just as Elliott is about to confess, he sees that the bullet he fired missed Joe and ended up lodged in a book. A doctor confirms that Joe actually died of a pre-existing heart problem, and Elliott's pet pigeon Herman flies off with the bullet, so no evidence ties him to the death.


See also


  1. 1 2 3 'The Eddie Mannix Ledger’, Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study, Los Angeles
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