Even at number 10, “It Happened to Jane” is a bright and breezy comedy starring Doris as “Jane from Maine” who becomes a national heroine when she sues evil Ernie Kovacs’s railroad for putting her lobster farm at risk. Jack Lemmon is on hand as Day’s feeble lawyer who goes to battle against Kovacs. Of course, Doris and Jack come out on top at the end. And while I’m not sure I buy the romance between the two of them, you defiantly will find yourself rooting for them as a team in this feel good comedy.
Doris Day is charming in her final motion picture “With Six You Get Eggroll.” Although not a new story (basically the Brady Bunch but a year earlier), the chaos and antics that ensue when two families attempt to blend lives and homes are original and will keep you laughing. Day is an absolute natural in the film, and provides exceptional slapstick humor on multiple occasions.
I would have rated this film higher on the list if perhaps Rock Hudson or James Gardner would have been playing Doris’s love interest. Don’t get me wrong, Cary Grant is one of the biggest and best movie stars of all time, but I just don’t feel their acting styles match. So why am I even including it on the list? Because Doris is superb, the settings are lush and picturesque, and the writing is sharp and often hilarious. Basically, it’s a battle of the sexes film, with Cary in hot pursuit of a tight buttoned Doris. Rounding out the cast are Gig Young, Audrey Meadows, and John Astin who all give hilarious supporting performances that won’t be forgotten. Oh yes, and of course there’s lots of mink…although I’m not sure Doris would like that nowadays…
This film is much funnier than its title would suggest. Doris plays Kate Mackay, the mother of four young boys, whose husband, David Niven, has just received the honor of becoming one of the “Holy Seven” NY film critics. The story in a nut shell is David’s struggle between his career and home life and the breakdown of their marriage because of it. He becomes consumed with his new power, while Doris throws herself into fixing up an old mansion in the country that they recently purchased. Deborah Vaughn, played by Janis Paige, tries to seduce Niven , the children prove troublesome, the house is a wreck, and David’s reputation is put on the line when an old, terrible play he wrote is about to be produced by the local school with Day in the starring role. Needless to say their marriage is temporarily torn apart until Doris’s mother steps in and saves the day and their marriage with her motherly advice. Doris’s costumes in the film are beautiful (I’d love to get my hands on the blue floral number), and she gives one of her most believable performances. When I watch this film I chuckle, settle back and watch some great acting, and then chuckle some more. It’s definitely worth a watch or two.
The final Day/Hudson/Randall pairing does not disappoint. Some label this film a “dark” comedy due to the fact that it centers around a hypochondriac husband, Rock Hudson, who mistakenly thinks he is dying and tries the find his wife, Doris Day, a suitable husband for her after he passes. Meanwhile, Doris mistakes her husband’s planning for an attempt to cover up an affair and throws him out. Tony Randall plays the couples friend and neighbor who assists Rock throughout and provides non-stop laughs. Eventually Paul Lyde, as a funeral director who really, really, really loves his job, saves the day when he informs Doris that Rock had purchased three funeral plots together for herself, Rock, and her second husband. In my opinion this film is not dark – it’s delightful.
In Doris’s first of two spy spoofs she wins the comedy case. Day plays Jennifer Nelson, a widow and tour guide for NASA. She also occasionally dons a mermaid’s costume for her father’s glass bottom boat tour, and swims underneath it for the passengers’ amusement. One day, Jennifer accidentally meets Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor) when his fishing hook snags her costume. He reels in her mermaid tail, leaving the infuriated Jennifer floating in the water without pants. Jennifer later discovers that Bruce is the big boss at NASA. Mr. Templeton later sees Jennifer again at work, and with a hidden purpose of winning her affections, he hires her for a new full-time assignment: to be his “biographer” and to write his life story. The plot thickens when Doris is suspected of being a Soviet spy and is put under surveillance by the CIA, who turns out to be the actual bad guys. Even though this story is quite a stretch, you’ll find yourself forgiving the outlandish plot because it provides so many great physical comedy situations. Not only that but it’s worth a watch just to see all the amazing gadgets that Bruce Templton has around his house. There’s a push-button self-cleaning eggbeater, an oven that cooks cakes in seconds, and a mess-hating robot that is activated when anything touches the floor.
Brilliant writing and great direction make this film a winner. The story centers around suburban housewife Beverly Boyer (Doris Day) and her husband Dr. Gerald Boyer (James Garner), a successful gynecologist and devoted family man. Beverly is offered the opportunity to star in a television commercial advertising Happy soap, and even though she is horrendous on air she receives a contract for $80,000 per year to appear in weekly TV commercials. Gerald becomes jealous of the fact that she is now out-earning him and is upset that she is never home to be with him or the children. The best scene in the film is when Dr. Boyer drives his car into a swimming pool which has been installed in his backyard by Happy Soap without his knowledge. Immediately, an all-out shouting match between Beverly and Gerald transpires which is both serious and hilarious – thanks to great acting by Garner and Day.
If I could mesh numbers 3 and 4 together I would. Honestly, I’m not sure which Gardner/Day picture I prefer – I think it just depends what mood I’m in! A remake of “My Favorite Wife,” originally starring Cary Grant and Irene Dunn, “Move Over Darling” is the story of Ellen Wagstaff Arden (Doris Day), a mother of two young children, who was believed to be lost at sea following an airplane accident. Her husband, Nick Arden (James Garner), was one of the survivors. After five years of searching for her, he decides to move on with his life by having her declared legally dead so he can marry Bianca (Polly Bergen), all on the same day. However, Ellen is alive; she is rescued and returns home that particular day. When she gets to her house she is relieved to discover from her mother-in-law Grace (Thelma Ritter) that her husband’s honeymoon has not started yet. When Nick is confronted by Ellen, he eventually clears things up with Bianca, but he then learns that the entire time Ellen was stranded on the island she was there with another man, the handsome, athletic Stephen Burkett. Scenes not to be missed in this film are Doris shopping for shoes sold by Don Knotts, Doris posing as a Swedish nurse and having brawl with Bianca, and the famous “Doris trapped in a car wash” scene. This film is big laughs with a big payoff at the end.
Doris Day and Rock Hudson are truly a match made in heaven. One of the most beloved screen couples of all time they don’t disappoint in their second pairing “Lover Come Back.” Doris and Rock play competing advertising agents. She’s professional and dedicated; he’s corrupt and deceitful. When Rock steals a big account from Doris by using “sex to land an account,” Doris is hot on his heals to land the next big account before he snags it up. While Doris is boiling, Rock is busy cooling off Rebel Davis, a dancer he often uses to reel clients in, and ends up promising to make her the “VIP” girl. The problem is VIP doesn’t exist. Doris is suspicion of the new product and pays a visit to the scientist, Linus Tyler, who supposedly created VIP. The plot thickens when Rock happens to be in Linus’s laboratory when Doris arrives and she mistakes Rock for the scientist. Of course, Rock is smitten upon meeting his rival and he continues to pose as the innocent virtuous scientist. Love ensues, romance blossoms, but soon enough Doris discovers the truth. You’ll have to watch the film to see how they undoubtedly end up together forever.
“Pillow Talk” is indisputably Doris’s greatest comedy. The film garnered Day her first Oscar nomination, and won her a Golden Globe among numerous other accolades. The setup is that interior designer Jan Morrow (Doris Day) and composer Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) share a party line. Jan can never get a call through because Brad spends all day romancing a flock of women via their shared telephone line. Anger turns to love when the two accidentally meet in person at a nightclub. Brad sees what Jan looks like and he makes a quick decision to disguise himself as shy Texan “Rex Stenson” in order to try and win her over. The rest of the plot is filled with glorious dates, split screen “pillow talk” conversations, Doris finding out who Rex really is, and Doris getting her revenge on Rock by given his apartment a horrific make-over . I have loved this film for many years, have seen it at least 50 times, and cannot recommend it highly enough. Doris’s gowns by Jean Louis are breathtaking, and her hairstyles by Larry Germain display a new glamorous Doris Day. New York City in the 1950’s plays the perfect backdrop for the film shot in Cinemascope. Rock Hudson is flawless in his first comedy ever and has paid tribute to Doris over the years saying that she “taught me how to do comedy.” Tony Randall was also superb in the film as the backer for Brad’s new musical composition, while also playing the man hoping to make Jan his third wife. If you’ve never seen a Doris Day film start with this one, and I’d be willing to bet that you’ll fall in love with her!