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Friday Film Review: That Touch of Mink

That Touch of Mink (1962)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Grade: C

I know that a lot of people are probably going to disagree with my grade of average for a Doris Day/Cary Grant movie but honesty wins out and IMO, this movie ain’t that great. Day and Grant obviously made other great movies but their pairing here just sinks like a rock. I liked other aspects of the film enough to finish it and do this review but the romance never worked for me.

Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day) and Philip Shayne (Cary Grant) are two New Yorkers on their way to work one morning. Or at least he’s on his way to work and she’s on her way to the unemployment office to pick up her check from smarmy Everett Beasley (John Astin) when his car splashes water on her. Cathy is disgusted that he doesn’t stop but unknown to her he did have his driver circle around the block only to discover that she’d disappeared. Later that morning, he spies her entering an Automat – where she gripes to her room mate Connie (Audrey Meadows) – about what happened. Philip sends his well paid economic professor flunky Roger (Gig Young) with money and an apology to Cathy. When he discovers how mad she is, he hauls her across the street to confront Shayne since he too feels he’s being used and abused – though whenever he complains, Philip responds by increasing his salary and perks to the point where he sells out again.

To Roger’s horror, the moment Cathy sets eyes on Philip she turns into a puddle of mush, completely jettisoning her principles in the face of instalove – and it’s love since this is a early 60s movie and virginal Day wasn’t allowed to truly lust. Cathy babbles to Philip, manages to state the obvious when he asks for her opinion and – somehow – grabs his attention and interest to the point where he wines and dines her before heading to a Yankees baseball game. At the end of the evening, he’s smitten and offers her a trip around the world but – gasp! – no wedding ring to go with it. Torn, Cathy mulls it over, keeping Connie awake all night, before – in a dazzling display of reverse logic – she accepts. She knows full well what she’s agreed to and that she’s going as a mistress.

Philip pays for a new wardrobe, buys out an entire airlines flight down to Bermuda for Cathy and meets her there where she’s overcome by an attack of Virginitis. Hey, she’s Doris Day and was not brought up that way. God no, she can’t possibly get in that bed with him! What will these complete strangers, who can tell even though she has gloves on that she doesn’t have a wedding ring, think?! Off she goes to NYC to whine some more to her roommate about what happened. Then changes her mind and informs Philip she’s on her way back and waiting for him. Then gets drunk as a skunk before he arrives and passes out on him. They all head back to NYC where she waffles about until near the end of the movie when Roger and Connie persuade her she’s in love with Philip and he with her. In a last desperate bid to win a wedding ring, Cathy pulls a stunt to bring Philip running. Will he go after the bait even if it involves a rundown taxi, a chicken delivery truck and a trip to New Jersey?

1/2 of this movie works for me and 1/2 doesn’t. Unfortunately the 1/2 that doesn’t is the romance. Sweet baby Jesus, what on earth does Philip ever see in Cathy? I just don’t get it. Once she lays eyes on him, all her backbone oozes out leaving her a vapid, breathless nincompoop. I would have been looking for something to club her with so I could stick her in a closet. But instead Philip somehow falls in love with her – mainly because the script tells him to, I think. The chemistry here is awful. When they’re onscreen together, Day seems to be phoning in her standard romcom performance while Grant has the look of a man wondering how on Earth his agent ever persuaded him to take this job. But, God love him, he soldiers on.

The 1/2 of the film I like is Grant on his own or with Gig Young. Now these parts are funny and the two of them have a better relationship than anyone else in this mess. True Young doesn’t do neurotic as well as Tony Randall but his character’s psychological waffling about selling out for the obscene salary Shayne cheerfully hikes whenever Roger almost gets up the nerve to leave is funny. His conversations with his analyst – and the mistaken ideas the analyst gets about what is going on – are also a hoot. While Grant may look pained whenever he’s interacting with Day’s character, it doesn’t stop him from casually tossing out great one liners and still being Mr. Smooth. His part of the final chase sequence gave me the biggest laugh from the whole movie, especially the bit of him looking out the rear window of the chicken truck as it pulls off.

Even the wardrobe of this film, something I generally love in 50s/early 60s films, lets me down. I don’t know who dressed Day but for the most part, the clothes are uniformly blah. As is the “supposed to be drooled over” sequence where they all get modeled for her – it was endless and boring. The movie is filled with chipper era music though.

Sadly this movie could have been much better and I spent the whole time I was watching it thinking that. Another actress in the role would have done wonders. Day is just too old to pull off the breathless ingenue and the way the studio forced her to play nothing but goody-two-shoes, sugar sweet wholesomeness doesn’t work here. It painfully doesn’t work as there are two scenes of Grant with a more worldly wise woman that I liked better than all of Day’s part. If I ever watch it again, I’ll concentrate on Grant and Young while ruthlessly using the FF button whenever Day appears on screen.

~Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 15 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there's no TSTL characters and is currently reading very few paranormals.

16 Comments

  1. Darlene Marshall
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 08:34:10

    I’m with you on this one. Doris Day always left me cold, and I’d much rather see Cary Grant teamed with Grace Kelly in To Catch A Thief. Now, there was some chemistry!

  2. TiceB
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 08:34:12

    Could not agree more about this movie. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been able to make it all the way through it. It’s so obvious that they filmed Doris Day through a filter to make her look younger–and she seems so uncomfortable in the role–that it’s painful to watch. I love most of the movies she did with Rock Hudson but this one is a dud.

  3. Amy Kathryn
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 08:39:05

    I did like the bromance in this one better than the main romance. I was also a big fan of Connie and her changing color streak…maybe grey will make them feel sorry for me.

    I much preferred Pillow Talk for watching Doris doing her thing.

  4. Bookworm1858
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 09:18:05

    I have fond feelings for this movie as it A. introduced me to Cary Grant and B. made me fall in love with old movies but it is really not that good. I’m not sure how it made me excited about classic films but I am glad that it did so that I have now seen countless superior ones staring Grant and Day individually.

  5. Estara
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 09:36:34

    Doris Day works best with Rock Hudson and some with James Garner. Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn in Charade – now THOSE two are perfect and playful and mysterious and double-crossing.

  6. HollyY
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 10:22:36

    Okay, I’m going to be odd duck here. I LOVE this movie. I love the funny bits between Grant and Young and the misunderstanding between Young and his therapist are a hoot. Of course, with modern eyes I wonder if I SHOULD like that part but I still do.

    Finally, I liked Day and Grant together. And please, this was 1962. She couldn’t just sleep with him and not because she was Doris Day but because it was 1962. Come on. They had to have all this convoluted stuff happen for the plot because it was 1962. And frankly, I’m surprised it wasn’t banned in Boston or something. I mean…a woman considering the idea of having sex with a man outside marriage? Whoa.

    Maybe I just like DD, but for the most part I found her character plucky. A little annoying at times, yes, but I can understand her melting into a pile of goo at Cary Grant’s feet. I would have. Damn, he was freaking gorgeous and sooooo smooth. Who wouldn’t start babbling like an idiot when he started talking to her?

    I will say that Gig Young totally steals the movie from both of them – just like Barry Fitzgerald steals The Quiet Man from John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. LOL Yes, a plug for one of my favorite films and just in time for St. Patrick’s Day. Wink.

  7. Maire Claremont
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 11:23:48

    I love movies from this era. I absolutely love Pillow Talk and House Boat. But I loathe this movie. Its insulting to women’s intelligence and sexuality. The bro-mance really is the best part. And I too struggled with the vapidity {See earlier comment on insult to women} But I do think its an interesting window into what the mores were at the time. A beautiful woman in her thirties is supposed to be a terrified virgin until she finds a man willing to marry her. Sigh. Next movie, please. ;D

  8. Brussel Sprout
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 14:41:01

    Watching this movie was like reading Old Skool Mills & Boon – I saw it about a month ago as part of the DH’s campaign to see every movie ever made, when I realized it was a Cary Grant movie that had passed me by. Look, you have commitment-phobe tycoon, look, you have goo-goo brain Ingenue, Look, you have wise-cracking BFFs, surely this must make a good movie. Sadly, no, but I did think it was bizarro enough to have a very good cringe-fest (“argh, no, she’s going to say, and yes she did, I don’t believe it, OMG how much worse can it get, no, not hives!!”)

    If you have seen Homeland, though, there is a namecheck: the blonde CIA plant on the Prince who gets offed in episode 3 or 4, the pretty blonde who is chief of the Prince’s harem, comes from Sandusky, Ohio. Just like Doris Day’s character in the movie.

  9. Evangeline Holland
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 14:53:21

    I agree with the grade–it was a pale imitation of her collaborations with Rock Hudson and Tony Randall (of which Lover Come Back is my favorite), though Gig Young is hilarious.

    On the subject of Doris Day, after watching her sex comedies multiple times, I don’t understand how she earned the reputation of being a “World’s oldest virgin”. None of her characters, save this one, ever spelled outright that they were virgins–they just wanted the respect of a man if they chose to sleep with him. In fact, in Lover Come Back, she was ready to jump “Dr. Linus Tyler’s” bones because she felt in control of the situation and they spent their encounters getting to know one another (well, as well as she could of that lying sneak Jerry Webster, lol) instead of her fending off men who thought “yes, I will go on a date with you” meant “yes, I want to have sex with you.”

    These movies occupy that odd space of the late fifties to late sixties (the Mad Men era, now that I think of it), when things changed rapidly from the post-war boom, and long-held notions of sex, sexuality, women and men, et al, were being vocally challenged by the masses. Granted, there was sex and battle-of-the-sexes in Hollywood before this era, but in the 30s it was about titillation (Pre-Codes), in the 40s about the uneasiness of women ruling the hearth while their men were off at war, and in the 50s, trying to go back to “normal” gender roles. Doris’ roles in these films seem to be that of an independent single woman navigating the new rules of dating, sex, love, and marriage, which isn’t all that old-fashioned or different from women-themed movies, TV and novels of today.

    But if you want to find an offensive Doris Day movie, watch The Thrill of It All with James Garner. That made me want to throw my heels at the TV.

  10. Keishon
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 17:54:55

    Seen and enjoyed. I agree though that there was zero chemistry between them. Think my being a big Cary Grant fan made me look past all the flaws. I’ve never bothered to re-watch compared to other films of his like An Affair to Remember. I also enjoyed The Grass Is Greener with Deborah Kerr as well.

  11. Emily A.
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 18:43:53

    I don’t remember the movie well, but I remember I liked it sort of. I thought the plot was okay. I remember thinking Doris Day is from a ridiculous small town girl whose ignorance of New York City bothered me when more than the the virgin ideas. I think to me the real problem for modern movie goers isn’t so much her innocence as much her reluctance to give up her innocence . She is worried about her reputation and what people will think of her. A problem that many people but not all no longer worry about. I also think there are small town vs big city problems, which reminds of recent posts about small town romances.
    Spoilers
    Still no one has really talked about my favorite scene in the movie. I love the seeing all the old Yankee stars at the Yankee game. I actually really enjoy that scene. Sorry to annoy non-Yankee fans, but I think it’s fun to see the real stars of the Yankees play themselves in the movie. It’s a small scene but it made me happy.

  12. Gabi Stevens
    Mar 09, 2012 @ 21:00:39

    I just watched this about three weeks ago, and I completely agree with you. I found it boring (especially the clothes scenes) and didn’t like Doris Day at all. Give me To Catch a Theif any day.

  13. Robin L. Rotham
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 00:15:32

    I absolutely adored this movie. Of course, I think I was 14 the last time I saw it, but I watched it — and Operation Petticoat — every chance I got. Did Cary Grant ever make a truly bad movie?

  14. Evangeline Holland
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 02:02:53

    @Robin L. Rotham: Stay away from his films pre-1937 (he’s competent, but has little of the essence that made him “Cary Grant” before Topper & The Awful Truth), and definitely skip Once Upon a Honeymoon with Ginger Rogers and Dream Wife with Deborah Kerr!

  15. Marguerite Kaye
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 02:10:33

    I was raised on Doris and I adore her but sadly have to agree with you on this one. I watched it very recently and it had my toes curling with embarrassment. And you’re right, not even the divine Cary, not even the clothes, could save this one. But please, please let’s not judge Doris on this. I loved the movies she did with James Garner where the chemistry really worked. And no-one has ever sung Sentimental Journey the way she does.

  16. Jayne
    Mar 10, 2012 @ 03:55:36

    @TiceB: @Marguerite Kaye: I’m planning on watching – or in some cases rewatching – some of Doris’s movies with Hudson and Garner (though I might skip “The Thrill of it All” due to the number of comments at Netflix about how sexist it appears by todays standards). FYI “Lover Come Back” is showing on TCM this Sunday evening.

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