Tag Archives: Doris Day

Midnight Lace (1960)

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: Somebody is stalking her.

Kit Preston (Doris Day) is an American who has just recently married Anthony (Rex Harrison) and moved with him to London. Shortly after her move she begins receiving phone calls from a man who speaks in a strange sounding voice and who threatens her bodily harm. When she goes to the police about it they’re not helpful and soon both her husband and friends begin to question her sanity and whether she is simply making the whole thing up.

The film is based on the stage play ‘Mathilda Shouted Fire’ by Janet Green and for the most part is well-done. I enjoyed the glossiness of it particularly the sumptuous interior design of the large home they lived in. So many times movies with this type of theme are given the low budget treatment, so it’s nice to have one done more on the highbrow level.

The pace is slow and there’s way more talking than action, but I still found myself intrigued. The voice of the stalker though could’ve been done better. I guess it’s nice not having it conform to the stereotype of a madman by having his voice deep and menacing, but this guy sounds like a cartoon character and it’s unintentionally funny. The set-up could’ve also been improved as it starts out right away with her being threatened by him in a park that seems a bit surreal and confusing since we know nothing about this character and a previous backstory would’ve helped.

The villain’s ultimate identity may surprise some, but the film tries so hard to throw in these red herrings to make you think it’s all these other people that a truly savvy viewer will start to consider the one that seems to be the least likely. The plot logistics aren’t particularly well thought out either, but this is clearly not something you’re expected to think about too hard anyways.

The film’s main selling point is Day who’s tremendous. This was a big stretch for her, but she comes away in impressive fashion. She vowed afterwards that she would never do another thriller because it was too emotionally draining and I felt emotional drained just watching her. What I liked is that instead of screaming when she panics she breaks out into a teary-eyed wail that makes her seem quite helpless, but still endearing. She stated that during the filming of these scenes she would think back to the real-life abuse that she suffered from her first husband, which makes her emotions genuine and raw and manages to strongly connect with the audience.

My only quibble and this was probably more the fault of the screenwriter than hers, is when her husband is struggling to fight off the bad guy and all she does is stand there and whimper. This was most likely a product of the era where women were expected to be more ‘dainty’ and not get involved in physical altercations, but when a guy is trying all he can to save his life and hers he might appreciate her offering him some assistance.

There’s another scene where she gets stuck in an elevator that is a bit botched too because in her attempt to sound like a hysterical women she comes off more like a gal having a weird orgasm, but overall she’s great. It might even be her best performance as she far outshines Harrison who looks too old to be her husband and wasn’t a good fit at all.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: October 13, 1960

Runtime: 1 Hour 48 Minutes

Not Rated

Director: David Miller

Studio: Universal Pictures

Available: DVD

Lover Come Back (1961)

lover come back

By Richard Winters

My Rating: 6 out of 10

4-Word Review: They all want VIP.

Jerry Webster (Rock Hudson) steals clients from other ad agencies by throwing them parties filled with a lot of liquor and loose women. When Carol Templeton (Doris Day) who works at a competing ad agency finds out about this she goes on the offensive by getting Rebel (Edie Adams) a woman who attended one of Jerry’s wild parties to testify against him at the ad council board, which she hopes will get Jerry severely reprimanded. Jerry though gets Rebel to soften her testimony by promising her that she will be involved in the advertising campaign for a new product called VIP. The problem is that there is no such product, but Carol thinks there is, which leads to a lot of confusion including having Carol start a relationship with Jerry under the misguided notion that he is the chemist working on the new product.

The film is fast and fun for the most part although there isn’t as much physical comedy as in some of Day’s other vehicles, but makes up for it with some sharp dialogue. Although Day’s films have always been considered family friendly the film probably has just as much sexual references and innuendoes as any other movie.  There is even a scene where Day takes the Hudson character out to a strip club and has a stripper shed her pasties right on him. Even more amazing is the scene where the Day character actually considers having sex with Hudson before she is married to him. She ultimately doesn’t go through with it, but the fact that she was about to and even takes out a revealing nightie to wear seemed shocking enough.

Day’s costumes, which were designed by Irene Lentz who just a year after this film came out jumped to her death from a 14-story window, are chic and heighten the film’s visual appeal. I especially liked the variety of hats that she wears some of which go humorously over-the-top. I also got a kick out of Hudson’s garish suit that looks like it got splattered by twelve different cans of paint. My only complaint here is the absurdity of Day going to work looking like she is dressed for an elegant dinner party.

Day is gorgeous as ever, but her performance seems a bit one-note and amounts to nothing more than a collection of exasperated and perturbed reactions. It is actually Hudson who is typically a weak actor that steals it. The cocky way his character tries to finagle his way out of everything and his interactions with Tony Randall are the best.

The film ends with the two characters getting married, which I am sure fans of Day’s movies like and expect, but it really doesn’t make a lot of sense and seems quite contrived and formulaic. The script’s original ending had the two characters getting drunk and then checking into a hotel room, but Day insisted the characters get married instead even though it is unlikely any judge or minister would marry two people in a drunken state. The Hudson character was a raging playboy who could get attractive women whenever he wanted and clearly viewed sex as a conquest. It is most likely that after a few years of marriage he would get the itch to fool around again, which would culminate in an ugly divorce and make this ‘happy ending’ not so happy after all.

My Rating: 6 out of 10

Released: December 20, 1961

Runtime: 1Hour 46Minutes

Not Rated

Director: Delbert Mann

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video

Send Me No Flowers (1964)

send me no flowers 2

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

Not Rated

Director: Norman Jewison

Studio: Universal

Available: VHS, DVD, Amazon Instant Video