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The second - and for most critics, the best - of the three sex comedies Doris Day and Rock Hudson made together, Lover Come Back (1961) is also a sly and pointed satire of the advertising game as it was played in mid-century America. Taking off from the same winning formula as the first, hugely successful Day-Hudson pairing, Pillow Talk (1959), Lover Come Back pits Doris's virginal career girl against Rock's devious ad executive as they battle it out for a big account. They've never met, but she hates him by reputation alone; they meet, and she mistakes him for someone else, a scientist who is creating a new product called VIP. The attraction is mutual, and the complications are many and calamitous before she finally makes an honest man of him. As in Pillow Talk, Tony Randall is once again on hand as the couple's droll, neurotic foil.
During the 1950s, Day was typecast as the sunny, musical girl-next-door with a flair for comedy. Hudson, the hunky, stalwart leading man of glossy Universal melodramas, had never played comedy, and initially resisted when producer Ross Hunter offered him Pillow Talk. Hunter and Day convinced Hudson he could do it by telling him the first rule of comedy: it never works to try to be funny - you have to play it perfectly seriously. After that, Hudson said, it was just a question of following Day's lead. "Her sense of timing, her instincts - I just kept my eyes open and copied her....Doris...was an Actor's Studio all by herself. When she cried, she cried funny...and when she laughed, her laughter came boiling up from her kneecaps." The two had immediate rapport, and chemistry to burn. Audiences loved them together, and their re-teaming, along with Randall, was inevitable.
By 1961, advertising was a glamorous, sexy profession, ripe for satire, and Lover Come Back delivered the goods. Stanley Shapiro, who had co-written Pillow Talk, once again collaborated on a scintillating screenplay which had critics comparing Lover Come Back to the great screwball comedies of the 1930s. Bosley Crowther of the New York Times praised the script, saying it "has some of the sharpest and funniest situations you could wish, and some of the fastest, wittiest dialogue that has spewed out of a comedy in years." Most of the other reviews were also raves and Shapiro, who had won an Academy Award for Pillow Talk, was nominated again for Lover Come Back.
Although it seems tame by today's standards, Lover Come Back was considered very risque at the time. Doris Day, who really was the "good girl" that she played so often, went along with the fun, as long as it didn't cross over into what she considered vulgarity. For a scene in which she and Hudson get drunk and end up in bed together, she insisted that it be made clear that during their drunken bender, they've gone to a justice of the peace and gotten married...just like in those '30s screwball comedies.
Day and Hudson would make one more film together, Send Me No Flowers (1964), and would remain friends until Hudson's death in 1985. One of his last public appearances was at a benefit for one of Day's animal causes.
Producer: Stanley Shapiro, Martin Melcher
Director: Delbert Mann
Screenplay: Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning
Editor: Marjorie Fowler
Cinematography: Arthur E. Arling
Costume Design: Irene
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Robert Clatworthy
Music: Frank DeVol
Principal Cast: Rock Hudson (Jerry Webster), Doris Day (Carol Templeton), Tony Randall (Peter Ramsey), Edie Adams (Rebel Davis), Jack Oakie (J. Paxton Miller), Jack Kruschen (Dr. Linus Tyler), Ann B. Davis (Millie), Jack Albertson (Fred), Donna Douglas (Deborah), Joe Flynn (Hadley), Howard St. John (Mr. John Brackett).
C-107m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.
by Margarita Landazuri