Are Rock and Doris Hollywood’s strangest romantic team? How about Rock and Tony Randall?
These things happened: Tony Randall picked Rock Hudson up in a bar with the line “Need a light, cowboy?” Rock Hudson pretended to be gay to piss off Doris Day. (“You’re a fashion designer? That must be fascinating — all those fabrics and textures.”) Rock went into a ladies room and signed up for an exam from an obstetrician. Rock and Tony spent two weeks alone together in a hunting lodge, and were pursued by a sexually aroused bullmoose. Rock and Tony went to bed together. (Sample dialogue: “Your feet are cold!” “Why don’t you cut your toenails?”) Rock ran around in the nude wearing nothing but a fur coat, and was mistaken for a queer.
Welcome to the wacky, wacky world of late fifties, early sixties big-screen comedy, a world in which anything could happen, except the loss of the heroine’s virginity. During this period, Doris Day was simultaneously the biggest moneymaker and the biggest joke in Hollywood, thanks to the massive success of Pillow Talk and its numerous spinoffs.1 Doris kept her knees and elbows together from 1959 to 1968, calling it quits with Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?, in which she parodied her image as “The Great American Virgin” and finally consented to lose it.
Legend has it that Rock and Doris made a near-endless string of virgo intacta sex comedies. In fact, they only made three films together: Pillow Talk (1959), Lover Come Back (1961), and Send Me No Flowers (1964, by which time they were married and, presumably, doing it). Like Astaire and Rogers, they really had no desire to be a team; unlike their predecessors, they had the box-office clout to break up the act. However, each made similar films with other costars. Rock did Man’s Favorite Sport? with Paula Prentiss and Come September and Strange Bedfellows with Gina Lollobrigida, while Doris did Please Don’t Eat the Daisies with David Niven, That Touch of Mink with Cary Grant, and The Thrill of it All and Move Over, Darling with James Garner. Doris was married in all of these except That Touch of Mink, but in the public’s mind the hymen remained unbroken, so inherently virginal was her presence.2 Only gray-hairs can remember the avalanche of ridicule that was poured on poor Doris for her pains. “I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin,” snickered Oscar Levant.3 Seeing films like Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back today, the first question that comes to mind is how anyone could buy it. How could anyone believe that baby-faced big boy twenty-something Rock Hudson could have the hots for forty-something goody-goody Doris Day?4 How could they believe that any forty-something would fight to preserve her chastity in the face of such temptation? And how could they believe that a forty-something career gal living in New York City would have any chastity left to preserve?
The answer was that Doris’ audience wanted to buy it. They were largely thirty- and forty-somethings themselves; they were the last generation of Americans to grow up without the tube and without the pill, women who spent their youth going to the movies at least twice a week. They knew what they wanted. They wanted fantasy. They wanted to see simple, honest, plain-Jane Doris in a fabulous wardrobe,5 being pursued by movie gods like David Niven, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, and James Garner. They got their wish, and it made Doris rich.
Women adored Doris because she was glamorous, but nonthreatening. Female movie stars of the fifties fell heavily into the “bombshell” category — Jane Russell, Marilyn Monroe, and Elizabeth Taylor, not to mention foreigners like Sophia Loren, Gina Lollobridgida, Brigitte Bardot, and Anita Ekberg. By the late fifties, Jane was running out of gas, Marilyn and Liz were too big to work regularly, and the foreign gals were just too damn sexy. There was an opening for an old-fashioned girl with a touch of class, and Doris took it.
Pillow Talk took the old-fashioned moralizing of pre-TV Hollywood and combined it with what passed for hip in 1959 — a string of Broadway clichés dealing largely with psychiatrists, swingers, and the occasional fag. Watching the films Rock and Doris did together, one can watch cultural assumptions of this world start to come apart, watch the great cultural shift from Manhattan to LA, from urban style to suburban comfort, take place.
In Pillow Talk, New York still reigns supreme. To let us know that the film is about S-E-X, it opens with Doris pulling a stocking on a long, elegant leg.6 She lives alone in a fabulous New York apartment on Park Avenue. Rock lives in an adjoining building. The basic gag of the film is that they share a “party line,”7 which means that poor Doris can hardly get a word in edgewise, thanks to all the “last night was wonderful, when can I see you again” calls that bad-boy Rock gets from his multitudinous girlfriends. Doris accuses Rock of being a sex maniac, while he patronizingly expresses sympathy for her situation: “The only thing sadder than a woman who lives alone is one who thinks she’s happy that way.”
As swinging Broadway songwriter Bret Allen, Rock naturally has his pick of the chicks.8 To help things along, he has special switches built into his couch to dim the lights, lock the door, and turn on some mood music. The final switch, of course, converts the couch into a bed.9 Doris, on the other hand, is a non-swinging career gal, an interior decorator with a top firm. (Her oh-so-French boss is “Pierot,” played by Marcel Dalio.10) She’s being pursued by Tony Randall, a thrice-divorced, neurotic playboy with eight million dollars burning a hole in his pocket. He enters the film in a Mercedes 300SL,11 which he tries to give Doris as an engagement present.12
Despite the fact that they live next to one another, and talk daily, if unwillingly, on the phone, Rock and Doris have never met. Tony knows them both (he backs Rock’s musicals), and hears each bitch about the other, but never tumbles to the fact that they’re the two with the party line. It’s Rock who finally figures out who Doris is, overhearing her defending her honor at the “Copa del Rio” nightclub against an assault by Nick Adams, giving a thoroughly unconvincing performance as a Harvard Phi Bet. One glimpse of her twitching fanny13 on the dance floor sends Rock’s libido into high, and he quickly concocts the scheme of wooing her under the guise of “Rex Stetson,” a wealthy but naïve Texan.
The ruse offers rich comic possibilities. Rock as Bret can pretend to Doris that he’s been listening in on her conversations with Rex, and warn her about what her cowpoke plans on poking.14 Doris angrily defends both her virtue and Rex’s, who naturally resists all the temptations that Doris, spurred on by Bret, puts in his path. When she triumphantly reports this to Bret, he slyly suggests that perhaps Rex is riding sidesaddle.15 Then, when Rex starts talking about fabrics and recipes, a nervous Doris encourages him to be more forthcoming, and he gladly obliges. As they drive out to Connecticut in Rock’s convertible, Doris sings “Possess Me” on the voiceover. To the surprise of absolutely no one, of course, she discovers Rock’s true identity prior to party time and returns to New York with only her illusions shattered.
The debacle brings Rock to his senses. He realizes that he truly loves Doris, which he proves by dragging her out of her bed (a scene that was used in the trailer to make the film look sexier than it is) and carrying her through the streets of New York over to his place, where, presumably, they’ll get married.16
Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, based on Jean Kerr’s best-selling book of the same title, was already in the works when Pillow Talk came out. Kerr was the envy of every literate woman in America in those days. Not only was she a successful author, she was married to Walter Kerr, drama critic for the New York Times, which meant that she attended every first night on Broadway for free.17
Her book consisted mostly of loveable anecdotes about her wacky, wacky sons,18 but the massive success of Pillow Talk demanded that the film be turned into a sex comedy. The result is tepid, to say the least. The film starts with Doris looking pretty damn sexy in a black silk slip, echoing the stockings scene in Pillow Talk. But David Niven, playing Walter Kerr, proves to be no Rock Hudson. He underplays so vigorously that he seems to be suffering from stomach flu, as though appearing in a film with a bourgeois broad like Doris bored the hell out of him, which it probably did. He wanders wanly through the wan plot, clearly wishing he could dash off to his club in London. The Kerrs are moving from their Manhattan apartment to a “dream house” in Connecticut, which naturally proves to be an enormous wreck. Doris seems to be more interested in the house than in David; a blonde bombshell suggests that she and David could be more than friends. Does Doris succeed in turning the house into a perfectly decorated showplace? Does David resist temptation? Does Doris sing a dippy song about Please Don’t Eat the Daisies? You don’t have to see the film to find out.
Rock, instead of going to Connecticut, got the hell out of the country in his first non-Doris flick, Come September. As the film opens, he’s driving through the Italian countryside in a Rolls Royce convertible on the way to a villa he maintains for his private use one month a year, shacking up with Gina Lollobridgida, a gal who’s as Italian as Doris is American. Gina lacked the earth-mother monumentality of Sophia Loren, but she was a wonderfully urbane and sexy actress, who spent too much time in sexpot roles.19 When we first see her, she delivers a very funny parody of Italian “temperament,” with lots of shouts, gestures, and flashing eyes. Rock and Gina are joined by Walter Slezak, Rock’s major domo, who secretly uses the villa as a hotel the other 11 months of the year. But after a promising start, Come September hits rock bottom and stays there with the arrival of both Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee. Apparently, the producers felt the film needed a Beach Blanket Bingo punch. Old man Rock is forced to babysit a bunch of college punks, including a sadly misused Joel Grey as “Beagle,” a very long way indeed from Cabaret. Bobby lectures Rock on how a fellow really needs to respect a girl, and Sandra explains to Gina that only a good girl gets a ring. Worst of all, Darin sings.20
Clearly, audiences wouldn’t be satisfied with such ersatz Rock and Doris. They wanted the real kitsch, and they got it in Lover Come Back, a near-exact remake of the first film. The two play rival advertising executives who have “heard” about each other but have never met. Doris is the “good” advertising executive, who wins clients through hard work and brilliant ad campaigns.21 Rock is the “bad” advertising executive, who swaggers around town in a white Chrysler Imperial convertible22 and wins clients by taking them to the “Bunny Club,” a nightspot where the chorus girls all dress as bunnies.23 Rock keeps the most giving of the girls (Edie Adams, in a trivial role that makes no use of her talents) on a line by promising to use her in an ad campaign. When she gets too persistent, he puts her in a series of fake ads for a made-up product, “VIP.” Of course, Rock never plans to run the ads, but when his boss, Tony Randall (once more the millionaire wastrel but this time riding around in a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce), hears about it, he has to create a product to go along with the campaign. Doris, smarting from the loss of a major client, also gets wind of the VIP campaign and decides to outbid Rock for the account. Rock hires an eccentric Greenwich Village scientist to invent VIP. Doris, visiting the lab, mistakes Rock for the scientist. Rock goes along with the gag, pretending to be the innocent once more,24 and lets Doris “woo” him, driving her to greater and greater heights by telling her about all the awful things that other ad executive is making him do: “He took me to this club, and he made me smoke this funny cigarette that didn’t have any writing on it.” To keep scientist Rock happy, Doris takes him to a strip club, where they watch “Sigrid Freud, the Id Girl” pluck daisies off her breasts.25 Eventually, Doris takes Rock to her apartment. While he waits for her in bed, Doris presses a champagne bottle between her breasts and sings “Surrender.” Once again, however, Rock’s diabolic deceit goes unrewarded. A timely phone call alerts Doris to the true state of affairs. She slyly suggests a midnight trip to the beach for a nude swim. When Rock undresses, she leaves him in the lurch. But by the power of VIP, Rock manages to get Doris married and pregnant in the course of one night.26 Doris annuls the marriage (she doesn’t know she’s pregnant, of course), setting the scene for hilarious, delivery-room nuptials. (We can only assume that Doris never noticed that she was pregnant until she went into labor.)
Doris went from Lover Come Back to That Touch of Mink, with none other than Cary Grant, Hollywood’s aging but still-reigning dream man. The film has a very heavy Manhattan flavor, looking back to the forties and even the thirties rather than ahead to the sixties. Grant plays a skirt-chasing near-billionaire who’s used to getting anything and everything he wants.27 Doris is a working gal once more but distinctly low-rent this time around, so low-rent that she’s actually on her way to a job interview when Cary’s chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce splashes mud on her dress. Gig Young takes over Tony Randall’s adorable weakling role, playing Grant’s economic advisor, a former Princeton professor who’s been lured from the innocent groves of academe by Cary’s bucks to serve Mammon. Young gets a lot of screen time, bemoaning Grant’s ability to seduce anyone with “That Touch of Mink.”
Doris, of course, gets that touch of mink, and a whole lot more, but she earns it the hard way, by keeping her knees together until the ring goes on. That Touch of Mink is a painfully bad film, one of the worst of the series. Grant, though he still looks and sounds great, is practically immobile, and seriously unbelievable as a ladies man. Doris is at her whiniest (when it looks like she’ll actually have to go to bed with Cary, she comes down with hives). Young, trapped in an “author’s mouthpiece” role, can’t shut up.
Bad as That Touch of Mink is, it’s topped by The Thrill of It All, scripted by Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart and hopefully the worst thing either of them did. Doris, tiring of old man Cary, is hooked up with young James Garner, fresh from his TV triumphs as Maverick.28 The Thrill of It All is a clumsy satire on advertising and television. Doris, married to Manhattan obstetrician Jim, is a wonderful mom who ends up as a TV spokeswoman for soap because she’s so honest and natural. Success, however, goes to her head. She’s so excited by the glamour of her career that she starts neglecting her own children! Fortunately, helping Jim deliver a baby (in the backseat of a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce) brings her to her senses.
Doris finally got out of Manhattan in Move Over Darling, set in La La Land, a remake of the thirties screwball classic My Favorite Wife, which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne (and which was set in Manhattan). Jim Garner is the leading man once more, in court to have Doris declared legally dead, since she’s been missing at sea for seven years. Jim goes through a carwash in a Lincoln Continental convertible in this one.
In Man’s Favorite Sport? with Paula Prentiss,29 Rock took a break from both Gina and Doris. Directed by Howard Hawks, though you’d never know it, Man’s Favorite Sport? is a straightforward, not very interesting, early sixties sex comedy. Rock is a top-flight salesman of outdoors sporting goods, but actually knows nothing about fishing, boating, etc. His boss enters him in a fishing contest, which naturally puts him on the spot. Paula, in the meantime, has fallen in love with him, and tags along to make his life miserable.
Since Paula and babe girlfriend Maria Perschy30 (as Isolde “Easy” Mueller) are both pretty damn gorgeous, the film can rely on good old-fashioned skin instead of innuendo to heat things up. The pair have an affinity for thin dresses that keep getting wet, much to their discomfort. When Rock’s fiancée31 shows up, they contrive a variety of embarrassing coincidences that eventually shatter Rock’s engagement, causing him (of course) to fall in love with Paula.
In 1964, Doris and Rock got together for the third and last time, in Send Me No Flowers, a film that is half California and half New York. Doris and Rock are married, living in the burbs with neighbor Tony. Tony and Rock work in LA but ride to work on what must have been the last commuter train on the West Coast.32 In contrast to the earlier films, Doris has pretty much given up on the glamour thing. When we first see her, she’s wearing a housecoat and furry slippers. Then she further degrades herself by wiggling her butt and stepping in eggs.
Once we get past that, the film improves, for a while. Rock, an incurable hypochondriac, pays another of his innumerable visits to his doctor, who rambles on about what a fool he was to become a GP. All his med school classmates are specialists who “work banker’s hours and get banker’s pay.” Naturally, Rock misinterprets an overheard conversation and thinks he has only six months to live. “I’ve got something to tell you, and I don’t want you to breathe a word of it to anyone,” he tells Tony on the ride home. “This won’t affect property values, will it?” says Tony, instantly on the alert.
There’s more fun as Doris amusedly rejects Rock’s indirect suggestions that she might want to learn a useful skill like accounting, so that she could support herself. “Why should I want to do that, darling?” she says, as if trying to reason with a child. Later, Rock buys a cemetery plot from Paul Lynde,33 located in a massive necropolis that Rock describes as “a sort of Levittown for the Hereafter.”
The film falls apart when Clint Walker,34 Doris’s college sweetheart turned millionaire oilman, shows up. Naturally, it makes sense for Rock to pair the two off, and naturally he gets jealous, but one has the feeling that Clint just didn’t mesh with Rock and Doris. There’s a strong smell of rewrite in the air. Clint appears and disappears abruptly in the picture and there’s no real payoff for his role. Instead, we get lots of Tony acting wacky, apparently tuning up for his role in The Odd Couple.
Strange Bedfellows was the last gasp of the Rock/Doris saga. Doris, of course, is long gone, but Gina is back. The seismic sixties event, the assassination of JFK, had occurred, and the times they were a-changing. Most of the clichés are still in place: once more Rock is a successful businessman; once more he has an adorable weakling sidekick (Gig Young, again filling in for Tony); once more there is a chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce. Gina is a tempestuous artist, living in London, who loves to demonstrate against the established order.35 She and Rock were briefly married in their student days, and now, five years later, it turns out they’re still married! Rock goes back to London to get a divorce but naturally gets involved in a demonstration against the U.S. Embassy. His company insists that he denounce Gina and all her works. In a surprising twist, he defends “my wife’s right to say whatever she pleases, on whatever subject.”36 Not exactly, “we’re here, we’re queer, get used to it,” but a start.37
Pillow Talk and its successors will soon be 40 years old. These films, so glossy, so expensive, and so successful, are almost forgotten. The age that produced them can scarcely even be imagined, let alone understood. But looking at them now, one tantalizing question still lingers, a question that, since Rock Hudson is dead, can never be answered: Who was the bigger lady, Doris or Tony?
Doris Day was a well-established big band singer long before she broke into pictures. Her first, Romance on the High Seas (1948), is in many ways her best, a real blast from the past with Doris as a good-natured gal who likes to have fun. (She even admits to being a bottle blonde!) Unfortunately, Doris quickly reformulated her on-screen personality, using the all-sugar, no-spice recipe that so irritated her critics. She is, of course, still alive and well, running the Doris Day Animal League, which sponsors “Spay Day.” (February 23, in case you missed it. “No Nuts Week” is coming up, so be sure to wear a cup.) To learn more, and to get a Doris Day Animal League Visa Card, among other things, check outhttp://www.ddal.org/ on the web.
For more about Doris the person and star, try The Doris Day Page. If you really, really like the way Doris sings, visit Bear Family Records, a German outfit that offers three boxed sets of her work, totaling 16 CDs. You also get a hardbound book (or Buch, as they say in German) with each set. If you’re really, really weird, you can also get a two-CD set featuring the soundtrack of Pillow Talk, along with another hardbound Buch. If you’d like to visit a website that puts the final nail in the vicious rumor that Doris once got it on with Sly Stone, check out http://www.slyfamstone.com/dorisday.html. And if you are absolutely, absolutely, absolutely nuts about Doris, check out the Australian Doris Day Society, where, among other things, you’ll be able to obtain videos of all 39 of her films, plus videos of all 128 episodes of her TV show, which ran from 1968 to 1974.
Rock Hudson’s death from AIDS in 1985 helped shape modern attitudes toward homosexuality in the U.S. “Remembering Rock Hudson” pays homage to his memory. “The Rock Hudson Joke Page” (now defunct) did not.
- Pillow Talk was the second-largest-grossing film of the fifties, surpassed only by The Glenn Miller Story, an exercise in WWII nostalgia. Miller, who died in a plane crash over the English Channel while serving in the army (as a bandleader), had the most successful big band of the era. You may not know it, but you’re probably familiar with many of his hits, like “In the Mood” and “Chattanooga Choo Choo.” If you like these tunes, don’t bother to see The Glenn Miller Story, which is a serious bore. Instead, track down Sun Valley Serenade and Orchestra Wives, which feature the real Glenn Miller and, more importantly, the fabulous Nicholas Brothers. Sun Valley Serenade, which teams a deliciously young and saucy Dorothy Dandridge with the Brothers, is the better of the two. It also features a deliciously young and saucy Milton Berle (talk about “must see”!) and Sonja Henie, who practically invented modern figure skating. She was also John F. Kennedy’s first celebrity lay, back in 1940 (too bad he didn’t strangle her instead). [↩]
- Paula, though she was almost 20 years younger than Doris, found it hard to play a virgin with a straight face. Gina, of course, didn’t even try. [↩]
- Levant appeared with Doris in her first film, Romance on the High Seas (1948), so maybe he knew what he was talking about. [↩]
- Naturally, I’m calculating Rock’s age in movie-star years. Rock was actually 34 when Pillow Talk was made. If you can believe online biographies, Doris was only a year ahead of Rock. However, her puffy cheeks, prissy attitude, and “monied matron” wardrobe made her seem much older. [↩]
- Doris wears three different fur-trimmed full-length coats during the course of Pillow Talk, along with two matching fur hat-and-muff sets (mink and leopard). She also has a full-time maid, who apparently spends her days dusting Doris’s shoes. [↩]
- Back in the fifites, women wore stockings and garter belts in real life, not just in MTV videos. Panty hose didn’t come along until the sixties, when it helped make the miniskirt possible. [↩]
- In the olden times, people didn’t have individual phone lines. However, the idea that this would still be the case in 1959 on Park Avenue is the second least believable detail from Pillow Talk. [↩]
- He sings the same song, “You Are My Inspiration,” obligingly written to accommodate his four-note range, to each of them. [↩]
- This gag takes off from an urban legend of the era, Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Pad, with its famous circular bed, which featured a built-in bar, stereo, etc. Hef, who didn’t need Viagra in those days, rarely got out from between the covers. [↩]
- Twenty years earlier, Dalio had a better role in a better picture, the Jew Rosenthal in Jean Renoir’s classic The Grand Illusion. [↩]
- The fifties-era 300SL was one of the most elegant cars ever built, though Tony is driving the convertible, not the even more desirable “gull-wing” coupe, with the doors hinged in the roof rather than the side. [↩]
- Randall appeared in all three of the pictures Doris and Rock did together, playing (of course) exactly the same character. Something there was about Randall that made it hard for him to play the romantic lead. In the early 1950s TV show Mr. Peepers, he played second banana to Wally Cox! [↩]
- One has to admit that Doris shows an elegant, and elegantly tanned, back in this scene. Doris broke into show biz as a song and dance girl, and she kept her dancer’s figure into the sixties. In one of her early musicals, Tea for Two, she does quite a bit of dancing, to little effect. She was competent, but not interesting. [↩]
- Such an explicit pun would not occur in a fifties film. [↩]
- This too would not occur in a fifties film. Ernie Kovacs’s once-famous line, “You show me a cowboy who rides sidesaddle and I’ll show you a gay caballero,” was seriously blue material, for nightclub use only. [↩]
- Fortunately, modest Doris had gone to bed wearing pajamas the night before. For further protection, she wraps herself in an electric blanket. [↩]
- In the fifties, Broadway consisted of more than Cats and Love! Valor! Compassion! Some plays had intellectual and even aesthetic pretensions. We’re told in the film that Kerr, as drama critic for the Times, is “one of the seven critics with the power to make or break any play on Broadway.” If you can name the other six, you’re even older than I am. [↩]
- When they ate the daisies someone brought as a house-warming gift, their defense was that she hadn’t told them not to. [↩]
- For a look at early, bounteous, black-and-white Gina, see the cult favorite Beat the Devil, with Humphrey Bogart, Robert Morley, Peter Lorre, and Jennifer Jones. The first half of this film, written by Truman Capote and directed by John Huston, is extremely funny. For camp Gina, see Solomon and Sheba, with Yul Brynner (he’s Solomon, she’s Sheba). [↩]
- A song he wrote himself, “Multiplication,” which remarkably enough is not about mathematics. [↩]
- A scene showing Doris at work with her creative team contains a classic fifties fag joke. Doris, looking at sketches from her art director, says “They’re great, Jerry, but you’ll have to do something about the color. I mean, who has a lilac floor in their kitchen?” “Well, I do,” he sniffs. [↩]
- The Imperial, fully the Cadillac Eldorado’s equal in baroque impracticality, is virtually unknown today, for the simple reason that Chrysler found it almost impossible to sell the damn things. Overpriced and undersprung, the Imperial was as hard to handle as an aircraft carrier, and just as expensive. The few that remain are almost all owned by TV funnyman Jay Leno, probably because the Imperial is the only car ever built that actually makes Leno’s chin look small. Pictures of the Imperial, and Rock, in action are available at The Imperial Club’s Lover Come Back page. The Imperial Club’s homepage lets you download fifties TV commercials for the Imperial. [↩]
- Twenty-somethings may not be familiar with the string of Playboy Clubs that once dotted the nation. The clubs, which featured “Playboy Bunnies,” waitresses serving drinks in armored corsets, were, ironically, victims of the sexual revolution that Hefner championed so vigorously. Despite the explosion of nude entertainment that started in the sixties, Hefner insisted on keeping his girls in corsets, and suffered the consequences. [↩]
- Rock’s passive-aggressive approach to seduction is clearly based on Tony Curtis’s wooing of Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. [↩]
- Unfortunately, we don’t get to see her act. Her nickname plays off of that of ‘twenties “It Girl” Clara Bow (“It” meaning sex appeal). [↩]
- The newly invented VIP is a candy that gets you drunk. [↩]
- Cary appears to have moved into Rock’s old office, since they share the same jade Chinese horse. [↩]
- Maverick, produced by Warner Bros., was one of a series of shows that helped destroy the “Golden Age” of live TV. Once producers realized that people were willing to see the same show twice, the film studios took over and production shifted from New York to LA. In The Thrill of It All, TV is still centered in New York, because that’s the way Reiner and Gelbart remembered it from their days with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows in the early fifties. A number of Maverick episodes are now available on video, featuring once-budding, now-aging guest stars like Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, and Roger Moore. [↩]
- Paula moved up fast in Hollywood. Man’s Favorite Sport? was only her second film. Her first was the kitsch classic Where the Boys Are. Sadly, she married Richard Benjamin and spent most of the rest of her career appearing in films with him, which was almost certainly more than he deserved. [↩]
- Maria Perschy may be a stranger to most Americans, but she’s been in German film and television for 40 years, starting in 1958. She followed Man’s Favorite Sport? with Die Banditen vom Rio Grande (1965). You may remember her from Witch Without a Broom (1967) or Torture Chamber of Fu Manchu (1969). [↩]
- The film is so loosely plotted that we don’t even learn that Rock is engaged until about the fourth reel. [↩]
- Rail fans will enjoy a few brief exterior shots of a Santa Fe streamliner in full “warbonnet” regalia. [↩]
- The presence of swishmeister Lynde on the same set with Rock and Tony must have made things lively. [↩]
- Walker was the star of another early Warner Bros. TV western, Cheyenne. Walker’s role emphasized beefcake to the extent that his contract required him to take off his shirt at least once in every episode. He’s best remembered for his role as the country-boy killer in The Dirty Dozen. [↩]
- Gina’s advocacy was probably inspired by the Free Speech movement at Berkeley in the early sixties, the first national manifestation of that era’s campus militancy. Gina demonstrates on behalf of such noncontroversial causes as unwed mothers, who were considered hysterically funny back in the days when there weren’t so many of them. In That Touch of Mink, Doris is mistaken for an unwed mother. [↩]
- In another surprising twist, both he and Gig lose their jobs as a result. In an unsurprising twist, they both get them back. In Hollywood, you can only afford your ideals if you don’t have to pay for them. [↩]
- After Strange Bedfellows, Rock was clearly tired of the chick thing and switched to guy pictures, where a man could be a man and you didn’t have to worry about your costar stealing your eyeliner. He appeared in The Undefeated with John Wayne and starred in Ice Station Zebra as a submarine commander whose boat is almost sunk by Ernie Borgnine’s Russian accent. [↩]