Sunday, July 20, 2008

4x Doris Day

~ Doris Day in 4 of her romantic comedies! ~

Pillow Talk (1959)

Jan Morrow (Doris Day) and Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) have never met, but they're sworn enemies because of one small appliance in their lives: the telephone. The two share a party line, and Jan is outraged over the amount of time Bill spends wooing women over the phone. A convenient triangle emerges when a client (Tony Randall) of Jan's--she's an interior decorator--falls in love with her and happens to be Brad's old college chum. When Brad makes the connection, he decides to try to court Jan himself, to make her more sympathetic to his phone woes. Of course, she'd never go for such a heel, so he passes himself off as Rex Stetson, a Texas rancher visiting New York. The ensuing tale, albeit predictable, is lots of fun, with some quick-witted dialogue and some clever use of split-screens for the phone calls. Thelma Ritter is hilarious as Jan's always-hung-over maid, Alma; and the pairing of Rock and Doris works beautifully, as always. --Jenny Brown

Lover Come Back (1961)

Rock Hudson and Doris Day had one of the sweetest chemistries in the movies--as demonstrated in several light comedies, including this film's predecessor, 1959's Pillow Talk. The two similar films feature a handsome, duplicitous Hudson duping--then falling for--an earnest Day. In Lover Come Back, the two play Jerry Webster and Carol Templeton, rival advertising agents, vying for the same clients--until Jerry makes up a product, Vip, to get out of a scrape. As Madison Avenue catches Vip fever, Jerry falls deeper into the façade-and into love with Carol, who schemes to steal the nonexistent account away from him. Tony Randall plays Peter Ramsay, Webster's hapless boss. While Day and Hudson are as adorable as ever (and would continue to be in 1964's Send Me No Flowers), a standout is fellow Pillow Talk and Send Me No Flowers costar Randall. He's an effective foil--both comically and physically (as he stands next to the much taller Hudson). Their brands of humor blend charmingly: Hudson's sardonic coyness, Day's innocent sweetness, and Randall's nervous edginess. Look for a pre-Brady Bunch Ann B. Davis as Mille, Carol's loyal assistant, and a pre-Beverly Hillbillies Donna Douglas as Ramsay's secretary. --N.F. Mendoza

The Thrill Of It All (1963)

James Garner substitutes for Rock Hudson in this hilarious Doris Day outing. Housewife Beverly Boyer (Day) happens by chance to give an executive of Happy Soap an honest appraisal of one of his company's products. Charmed by her forthright and honest manner, he makes Beverly the company spokesperson. When she becomes an advertising sensation, her husband (Garner) has to deal with the social ramifications of his wife making more money than he does. Day and Garner are both in good form, and Garner nicely portrays the mounting frustration of bewildered husband Gerald.

Gerald's refusal to accept that Beverly's new career infringes on her duties as housewife is, of course, outdated thinking today. Nevertheless, the film works and is sincerely funny. No wonder: comedian Carl Reiner cowrote the script. --Mark Savary

Send Me No Flowers (1964)

Send Me No Flowers" is the final big screen teaming of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. They would team three more times, professionally - on a Doris Day musical special on CBS in 1971, on "Good Morning America" for a delightful interview in May of 1983 and for Hudson's final appearance before his untimely demise, in 1985 on Day's cable program, "Best Friends".

Anyone expecting a rehash of "Pillow Talk" or "Lover Come Back" may be disappointed in "Send Me No Flowers". Those seeking and able to enjoy an adult comedy that is wry, witty, darkly funny and extremely well acted, should find this to be their cup of tea.

"Send Me No Flowers", based on a successful Broadway play, is the story of the ultimate hypochondriac, George Kimball, played by Hudson, and his loving but long-suffering wife Judy, played by Doris Day. George overhears his doctor discussing another patient who is terminal and leaps to the conclusion that his time is almost up. With the assistance of his sometimes sober neighbor Arnold, played by Tony Randall, he sets out to find a new husband for Judy.

Thanks to the chemistry of Day, Hudson, and Randall, not to mention their finesse and skill with any situation or line, this works perfectly. The talented direction of Norman Jewison brings out the best in all of the participants and they include Paul Lynde, in a hilarious turn as a salesman for cemetary plots, Clint Walker as a prospective mate for Day,and Edward Andrews as Hudson's patient but befuddled doctor, among others.

Ultimately, however, it is the team of Doris Day and Rock Hudson that raises this above the level of a merely pleasing comedy and makes it something really special. The natural give and take between the pair and the realization that this would be their last film together makes it slightly poignant. Nevertheless, most of the tears you shed will be from laughing so hard. "Send Me No Flowers" will definitely send you! By Paul Brogan

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