Mar 9 2012
That Touch of Mink (1962)
Genre: Romantic Comedy
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.