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?”
From the director of… I’m not sure. The writers won an oscar for this, beating their own screenplay for Operation Petticoat as well as beloved classics North By Northwest (admittedly the writing isn’t the best thing about NxNW) and The 400 Blows and Wild Strawberries (disadvantage: foreign).
Kinda surprising, because it’s just your standard gimmicky romantic comedy. I mean, we liked it and all, I’m just saying I wouldn’t have thought “best writing of the year.” Doris Day (in between her Hitchcock film and her Tashlin films) and Rock Hudson (a few years after Written on the Wind and Magnificent Obsession) share a phone line (because the phone company doesn’t have enough!) and hate each other. The problem is that she occasionally needs the phone for business, but he’s always chatting up some woman – always a different woman. Day, a serious businessperson with no need for a man in her life, resents him and makes rules and starts fights.
Katy said Doris Day isn’t pretty. Insanity!
So Rock disguises his voice when he meets her in person and romances her as hard as he can as a practical joke, leading to lots of fun visual innuendo…
And more, even saucier innuendo!
She learns what he’s up to and takes revenge as only a professional interior decorator can – by redecorating his apartment. Ho! But of course they fall truly in love at the end.
I’d assumed Thelma Ritter would be my favorite actor in this movie, but that turned out to be Tony Randall. Maybe after Pickup On South Street I hold her to unrealistically high expectations… all she does here is drink and then act hungover, albeit hilariously. That was still enough to get her a fifth oscar nomination.
Tony “Rock Hunter” Randall is a rich guy who’s always after Doris. He thinks he might end up with her there at the end, but he’s just her fallback guy while she works out her feelings for Rock. Poor Tony.