Happy April, classic film fans! I couldn’t be more excited to start spring off right by celebrating the 96th birthday of one of my favorite actresses, Doris Day. Something about Doris always reminds me of spring. Maybe it’s her sunshiny voice, her bubbly personality, or her pastel blonde hair, but all in all no one could make me think of the season more. I’d like to thank the wonderful host of what promises to be a fantastic blogathon, Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood, for bringing movie fans together in order to pay tribute to one of the most uplifting and luminous stars of all time, and of course I’d like to wish a very happy birthday to Doris! I hope we can all gather and celebrate many more of her birthdays in the coming years! One last thing: I don’t usually ask this of my readers, but I know that Doris would appreciate it immensely if we all pitched in and donated to her incredible charity, The Doris Day Animal Foundation (DDAF). What would be a better birthday gift to repay this amazing actress for all of her work on the silver screen than helping her in her tireless labor of love to assist all four-leggers in need? You can donate here on her website, and while you’re there make sure to sign her birthday card and give her your warm birthday wishes!
It really didn’t take much effort for me to decide which film I wanted to write about for Doris’ birthday. Of course my mind automatically drifted towards her three collaborations with the incomparable Rock Hudson, because I’m such a huge fan of them both and because I recently purchased a box set of their films. While Pillow Talk (1959) is undoubtedly one of my favorite romantic comedies of all time, I wanted to give some other bloggers the chance to watch it and tackle a Doris film that I’d never seen before, so that narrowed the decision to just two films: Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964). I actually had seen part of Send Me No Flowers (1964) on Turner Classic Movies, and though it was too long ago to really remember any of it or judge its worth, I remember at the very least not enjoying it as much as Pillow Talk (1959), so I decided to go for something completely fresh to me and check out Lover Come Back (1961) instead.
The film takes place on Madison Avenue in New York City, the mecca of the advertising world, where hardworking Carol Templeton (Doris Day) works day and night to put together ad campaigns in order to snag clients for her advertising agency, only to find out that the suave and clever Jerry Webster (Rock Hudson) bribes the clients by wining and dining them in order to steal their business right out from underneath her. Of course this infuriates Carol, and once she learns of his treachery she marches straight to the Advertising Council and complains about his unethical tactics. Jerry, annoyed that Carol is tattling and getting in the way of his work, enlists the help of his girlfriend Rebel Davis (Edie Adams), a stripper at The Bunny Club. Rebel, who was supposed to testify against Jerry, ends up testifying on his behalf and convinces the council that he’s a saint by showing them a phony medal of conduct and lying about his being a blood donor and a Boy Scout troop leader.
Jerry essentially repays Rebel for her work by starring her in his brand new commercials for VIP, but little does she know that no such product exists and the starring role was simply his way of keeping her content. Of course, as it often happens in Day/Hudson romantic comedies, things end up getting out of control when the head of Jerry’s company Pete Ramsey (played by Tony Randall, probably my favorite supporting actor bar none) decides to televise the VIP commercials without Jerry’s knowledge. Hence, the two executives decide to reach out to chemist Linus Tyler (Jack Kruschen), imploring him to invent a product that they could successfully release as VIP. Ever the sharpest of tacks, Carol finds the home of the chemist, hoping to convince him that her agency is the one who should market VIP. However, the situation grows even more complicated when Carol mistakes Jerry for Linus, and proceeds to wine, dine, and even fall in love with him without knowing his true identity. Will she find out the truth before it’s too late? Which agency will get the upper hand? Will Jerry change his ways once he finds out what Carol is really like?
I have to say that this is truly a fantastic and hilarious film. If I had watched this before Pillow Talk (1959), I would have easily praised its delightfully unique plot and listed it among my favorite romantic comedies instead. However, I have to keep in mind that this movie was released two years after Pillow Talk (1959), and due to the glaringly obvious similarities between the two pictures, I can’t give it any marks for originality. Both star Day, Hudson, and Tony Randall, and involve an “undersexed” woman who holds her own against a womanizing cad who pretends to be someone else in order to get closer to her. Even Randall’s character is virtually the same, as he plays a wealthy neurotic who frequently discusses his analyst and how difficult it is to be rich. Of course I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t enjoy this film. I’m fact, I highly recommend it due to its entertaining storyline and the powerhouse performances given by its supporting cast, including two actors fresh off of the set of the iconic film The Apartment (1960), Edie Adams and Jack Kruschen, as well as the final film performance given by Jack Oakie, an actor who I have an immense amount of respect for. It’s formulaic, but it sure is one of the best formulas that Hollywood ever concocted, and I couldn’t think of a better movie to watch if you’re a fan of Pillow Talk (1959) and the always delightful Doris Day.