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Doris Day 8/11
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,That Touch of Mink

That Touch of Mink

Even though she could no longer be considered an ingenue by the early '60s, Doris Day continued to make romantic comedies toward the end of her career that depicted her as a constant virgin, holding out for sex until after marriage. A perfect example of this formula, That Touch of Mink (1962), stars Day (she was thirty-eight years old at the time) as Cathy Timberlake, an unemployed computer operator whose dream job is to be a housewife. Her luck starts to change when a passing motorist runs over a street puddle and sprays Cathy as she waits on a street corner. The car belongs to Philip Shayne (Cary Grant), a wealthy businessman and confirmed bachelor. A typical "meet cute" beginning, Cathy and Philip are soon an item but Cathy's morals are put to the test when she must decide whether or not to accept Philip's invitation for a romantic trip to Bermuda. After much hesitation, she eventually accepts and Philip overwhelms her with lavish gifts of clothes and a mink coat. Then he charters a commercial airplane just for her. Once they arrive in Bermuda, however, their romance becomes a comedy of errors, leading to a break-up and then the inevitable reconciliation.

According to Doris Day, Cary Grant was not at all like his screen image. In Doris Day: Her Own Story by A.E. Hotchner, the actress stated, "Of all the people I performed with, I got to know Cary Grant least of all. He is a completely private person, totally reserved, and there is no way into him. Our relationship on That Touch of Mink was amicable but devoid of give-and-take....Not that he wasn't friendly and polite - he certainly was. But distant. Very distant." The only conflict that arose between the two leads during filming was that both Day and Grant preferred their right profile for close-ups. Since it's impossible to film them both from the right side, someone had to give in. Day recalls, "Our awkward impasse was quickly dispelled by Cary's graciously forgoing his preference."

Day also remembers Grant as being extremely professional, "maybe the most professional, exacting actor I ever worked with. In the scenes we played, he concerned himself with every little detail: clothes, sets, production values, the works. Cary even got involved in helping to choose the kind of mink I was slated to wear in the film." And when Grant noticed an ad for a raincoat that he thought would be appropriate for Day's character, he called the owner of the manufacturing company. After explaining who he was and what he wanted the coat for, he received a cold reply. The owner, Norman Zeiler remembers, " I didn't believe it was Cary Grant, so I told him if he wanted to see our collection, he'd have to come up himself. And he did."

In addition to the film's leads, That Touch of Mink also features some well-known supporting actors. Audrey Meadows of TV's The Honeymooners plays Cathy's roommate. Meadows first met Cary Grant while The Honeymooners was still in production. She was surprised to learn Grant was a fan of the show and he even commented to her, "I'd love to walk through the door and be in that set with all of you." Meadows however, couldn't see it happening. In Evenings With Cary Grant by Nancy Nelson she comments, "Now, can you imagine him in that broken-down terrible set, the way he dressed and the way he looked?"

In one of his more amusing supporting roles, Gig Young almost steals the film as Roger, Philip Shayne's financial advisor. Young was born Byron Barr but took the stage name Gig Young after the character he played in the 1942 Barbara Stanwyck film, The Gay Sisters. Young frequently played second leads, never quite making it to leading man status despite his good looks and talented acting abilities. According to George Ells in Final Gig: The Man Behind the Murder, Young was eager to accept the part in That Touch of Mink, but his character's deference to Grant's character was representative of the roles he played and why he never became a star himself. Ells stated, "Gig turned it into a hilarious portrait. Yet, while he was nearly as handsome and as deft a comedian and was most certainly a better dramatic actor, he lacked the superstar's charisma." Young later won an Academy Award for his role in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? (1969). Unfortunately, his life ended tragically in 1978; he committed suicide after fatally shooting his wife.

Additional trivia: Two other well-known TV actors also had minor roles in That Touch of Mink: John Astin of The Addams Family and Dick Sargent of Bewitched. Also look for cameo appearances by baseball stars Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra. That Touch of Mink went on to score three Academy Award nominations: Best Original Screenplay, Best Art Direction, and Best Sound.

Director: Delbert Mann
Producer: Martin Melcher, Stanley Shapiro
Screenplay: Stanley Shapiro, Nate Monaster
Cinematography: Russell Metty
Art Direction: Alexander Golitzen, Robert Clatworthy
Music: George Duning
Cast: Cary Grant (Philip Shayne), Doris Day (Cathy Timberlake), Gig Young (Roger), Audrey Meadows (Connie), Alan Hewitt (Dr. Gruber), John Astin (Beasley), Richard Sargent (Harry Clark), Roger Maris (Himself), Mickey Mantle (Himself), Yogi Berra (Himself).
C-99m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

By Deborah L. Johnson



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