I was saddened to hear of Doris Day’s passing at the age of 97. Blessed with a lovely singing voice, winning smile and wholesome appeal, she was seemingly destined to be a star. Off screen she was known for her animal welfare activism which was very close to her heart. Adept at romantic comedy and musicals, she showed her often underrated gift for drama in many a film. It’s a sad day as one of the greats has left us. But what a legacy she leaves behind.
- Doris Day as Jan Morrow
- Rock Hudson as Brad Allen
- Tony Randall as Jonathan Forbes
- Thelma Ritter as Alma
Pillow Talk was the film in which Doris Day was allowed to breathe a new sexy life into her usual wholesome persona onscreen. The results are a highly enjoyable romantic comedy with a cracking, Oscar-winning screenplay and Day creating amazing chemistry with Rock Hudson. It may have its cute and silly moments that seem dated now, but also has a slightly naughty edge that modern viewers will understand and enjoy throughout this frothy film.
The plot revolves around two people living in New York. The people in question are Jan Morrow, an independent interior designer and Brad Allen, a playboy songwriter for Broadway . They have never met each other, but are linked by the fact they have to share a party line due to the state of the phone company. This is much to the chagrin of Jan who tires of hearing Brad Allen chat up a different woman every time she picks up the phone. The two of them bicker constantly, Jan because she needs the phone for important work calls and Brad who insists that Jan is just a nosy and lonely woman. Interestingly enough, one of Jan’s clients Jonathan Forbes, who repeatedly confesses his love to Jan to no avail, is an old friend of Brad Allen and a Broadway millionaire. One night at a party, the amorous Brad lays eyes on Jan and is struck by her beauty, shocked that he initially thought she was an old busybody. Knowing that she wouldn’t be interested if she knew it was him, he cunningly invents an alias of a Texan to woo her. Jan immediately falls for him and can’t resist rubbing Allen’s nose in it over the phone, little realising it the same person. When the lovesick Jonathan finds out, events become complicated and hilarious. So kick back and enjoy as romantic entanglements and sizzling, zippy lines drip from many a frame of this charming picture.
The thing that immediately strikes you about Pillow Talk is how modern a lot of the dialogue is, considering that the film was made in a time when sex wasn’t widely discussed. All in all, the double entendres and innuendos are delivered with excellent verve by Day and Hudson. The lines may seem tame by todays standards, but one can’t deny the raciness that is laced in many of them. The set decoration and costumes capture a colourful side to 50’s business, featuring bright colours and exuberant decor. The delightfully mischievous and skittish score keeps the film running at a brisk pace, and embodies the escapades that the characters go through.
Doris Day shines in her performance, clearly relishing the chance to play a character that is different from the pure young women she often portrayed. She imbues Jan with a humour, sexy playfulness and warmth to create a charming character and sparring partner with Hudson’s Lothario. Rock Hudson shows his skills with comedy, his phone calls with Day a particular highlight, as they bicker whilst he attempts to flirt with her. The chemistry between the two is just magic to see as the brittle Jan comes to love the playboy she allegedly hates. In the supporting cast, Tony Randall is a laugh as the pining Jonathan, his many attempts at persuading Jan to marry him endearing him to the audience. Thelma Ritter, a great character actress, also makes a mark as Alma, the boozy housekeeper of Day’s character. She gets to deliver some of the sparkling lines and does so with a cynical tongue and objectionable manner. Her scene in which she drinks Hudson’s Brad under the table is just hysterical viewing. Michael Gordon directs with an engaging flair, bringing to life the two characters and the many mix ups that occur as a result of Brad’s duplicity.
I’m not the biggest fan of the romantic comedy genre, but the brittle humour and believable chemistry of Doris Day and Rock Hudson did raise many a smile from me. Although it might be too silly and arch for today’s audience, Pillow Talk will probably charm you none the less.