By Richard Winters
My Rating: 7 out of 10
4-Word Review: Hypochondriac thinks he’s dying.
Seriously funny story about hypochondriac George (Rock Hudson) overhearing a conversation from his Dr. (Edward Andrews) about one of his patients having only a short time to live and mistakenly thinking he was talking about him. He decides to set his beautiful wife Judy (Doris Day) up with another potential mate before he leaves, but she starts to get the idea that this is all just a cover-up for an affair that she thinks he is having, which creates all-out calamity.
Screenwriter Julius J. Epstein, who based this on the stageplay of the same name, hits all the right cylinders. The comedy shifts smoothly between engaging banter, parody, satire, and action. One of the best moments comes at the beginning with animated sequence of commercial parodies.
Hudson is great. Playing a dopey guy lost in his own little world works with his acting style. He and Day have a good chemistry and it is a shame that this was the third and last film that they did together.
The supporting cast is at the top of their game. Andrews is funny as the flippant Dr. Paul Lynde is also amusing as an aggressive cemetery plot salesman. Tony Randall is the funniest as George’s long-suffering friend Arnold. His new found fetish of ‘feeling tables’ is hilarious as is his frequent revisions of George’s eulogy, which he reads to him to ‘cheer him up’. Although actor Clint Walker isn’t funny in his performance the shot showing this giant of a man getting out of one of the smallest cars you’ll ever see is a crazy sight.
Day is energetic and gorgeous as ever and I liked her opening title tune in which she sounds almost like Lesley Gore. However, the best moments go to the rest of the cast and she is left with slapstick segments that have nothing to do with the story. The scene where she takes all of George’s medications from the medicine cabinet and puts them into a bucket, which she then dumps onto his head while standing on a balcony is good, but the rest of her scenes don’t really gel.
One scene with her gets botched and involves her driving an out-of-control golf cart. The close-up shots make it obvious that she is in front of a blue screen and not really driving it to begin with. However, there is a moment where she drives through a bunch of sprinklers which makes her hair all wet and matted down, but then the camera cuts to some long shots showing her hair is still dry and fluffy, which exposes the fact that it was being driven by a stunt double wearing a wig.
There is another segment where she gets into a car and starts it up and even backs it out a little before she realizes that it is not her car. Another scene later on has George doing the same thing with another stranger’s car. Both times it is because the keys were conveniently left in the ignition, but how many times does this occur in real life? Since neither of these segment had anything really to do with the story and weren’t all that funny I would have left it out since both moments especially to happen twice are implausible.
The movie ends with a shot of the empty medicine cabinet while the credits scroll over it. Supposedly this was used to symbolize that George was now ‘cured’ of his hypochondria and no longer needed all of the medications, but mental illness is not something that just goes away and I thought it would have been funnier had medicines started to pop back into the cabinet until it became full again.
My Rating: 7 out of 10
Released: October 14, 1964
Runtime: 1Hour 39Minutes
Director: Norman Jewison
Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video