Lover Come Back (1961, Delbert Mann)

Lightly charming, stylish-looking comedy with a terrific performance by a neurotic Tony Randall. It’s a mistaken-identity plot with Doris Day as a supposedly high-powered executive and Rock Hudson as a supposedly slack party animal who underhandedly steals her clients, but the movie wastes no time eroding Doris’s power with its regressive sexual politics. Still in her thirties, Doris already seemed out of place in this innuendo-filled movie set in the immoral realm of advertising.

Doris and Rock (reuniting from Pillow Talk) run client accounts for competing NYC ad firms. He’s got trouble with party girl Rebel (Edie Adams of The Apartment) so shoots her in TV ads for a fake product (Vip) to shut her up. Randall is Rock’s boss, a spoiled rich guy who inherited the company but is unable to make decisions. To please his psychiatrist, Randall makes a decision: to air the Vip ads. Now Rebel is a star and everyone wants Vip, which doesn’t exist (the movie is quite cynical about the American public). So Rock hires a nobel-winning scientist to invent anything and call it Vip (he invents cheap candy wafers that get you drunk), while Doris mistakes Rock for the scientist and spends half the movie trying to win the Vip account from him, while Rock uses the opportunity to get her into bed and steal her advertising ideas.

Also featuring Alice from The Brady Bunch as Doris’s secretary, Jack Oakie (fake Mussolini in The Great Dictator) as the Southerner whose ad account Rock wins in an early scene by getting him drunk and throwing him a confederate-themed party, and Jack Kruschen (who acted with Doris in Caprice) as the real scientist, a prickly independent inventor who turns out to be easily bought out (again with the cynicism).

Katy’s take: “Oh Doris Day, why do you hate women?”