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Some may consider the Rock Hudson / Doris Day comedies of the 50's and 60's to be dated, corny, and sexist to boot but I find them still to be clever and sparklingly funny, and, viewed today, wonderfully innocent. The comic chemistry between Doris Day and Rock Hudson was unique and ranks with other classic pairings such as Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell. This movie will always have a nostalgic place in my memory, as it was the first 'adult' comedy I saw. I was fifteen and saw it in Radio City Music Hall with my church youth fellowship group on a trip to New York. My, how risque it seemed! Of note is Jack Oakie's delightful bit as the southern colonel in what turned out to be his last feature film ("Just a tay-uch!")
In New York's Fifth Avenue 'hive' of advertising agencies, the
executives are either 'workers' or 'drones'. The former are industrious and
diligent (and female), and the latter (the men) get by on wining and dining
their clients. Carol Templeton is very much a worker, and she resents
losing an account to Jerry Webster, the drone of all drones. One of Jerry's
schemes (should that be 'scams'?) is the invention of "Vip", a non-existent
commodity. He markets the new product so successfully that Vip becomes an
overnight sensation. Throw in a severe case of mistaken identity, a nutty
professor and a bungled seduction, and you have all the ingredients for a
pleasant and well-constructed romantic comedy.
This was the second of the three Day-Hudson movies, and probably the best. Tony Randall is consistently funny as Peter Ramsey, the ineffectual company boss. Day does the humour very well, even if the main part of her duties is to pull a series of exasperated faces. There's a good split-screen graphic and a funny moose joke. Rock's woollen suit is amusing, and I liked the witty conclusion to the aquarium scene. Just one thought - why is Doris's hair so resiliently bouffant immediately after she steps out of the sea?
Everybody knows now that Rock Hudson was gay, but it goes without saying that this was far from universally acknowledged back in 1961. Is it my imagination, or does the film contain a vein of subtle "Rock-is-one-of-those" drollery? He makes a tongue in cheek speech to Doris, telling her that he can never be a real man to her. When the effeminate co-worker informs Doris that he has a lilac carpet in his apartment, she does a highly significant double-take. Rock keeps saying things like "I am not undersexed!" He tells Doris that he's taking her in - is he doing the same to the movie audience?
Finally, given that no lovers part, and indeed there ARE no lovers in the entire film, one wonders about the choice of title ...
Of the three Rock Hudson-Doris Day films my absolute favorite is Lover
Come Back. It's not only a good sex comedy for Doris and Rock, but it's
also a very funny satire on the advertising business of Madison Avenue.
In Pillow Talk Doris was an interior decorator and Rock a songwriter. They haven't changed their characters at all, but now are both in the advertising business.
Through an incredible combination of circumstances I couldn't possibly write Rock has created commercials for a product that doesn't exist and the doofus son of the agency he works for, Tony Randall, has ordered them given full blown airing. With Doris nipping at his heels for unethical practices, Rock and Tony hire a nutty scientist played by Jack Kruschen to come up with some kind of product for the commercials.
In the meantime Doris mistakes Rock for the scientist and now we're back to the plot of Pillow Talk as Rock decides to make some time with Doris. It gets pretty wild and wacky, especially after Kruschen invents something that has some very unforeseen consequences.
All the cast members do just fine in this very bright comedy that has me splitting a gut with laughter every time I see it. In addition to the cast members mentioned, I should also single out Edie Adams as the southern model who Hudson makes the commercials with.
Also to be singled out in what turned out to be his farewell screen performance is Jack Oakie who plays the southern client who Rock steals from Doris and gets all the wacky nonsense started.
Even given the changing mores, Lover Come Back holds up quite well and today's audience will love it as I do.
This Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedy is a vast improvement over their
previous one, "Pillow Talk". At least, both stars seem to be having a
relaxed time with one another, under the direction of Delbert Mann. It
helps a lot that the tremendously talented writing team of Stanley
Shapiro and Paul Henning are around to give the movie lots of laughs
with what they created.
The idea of warring advertising executives works well. Doris Day plays the uptight Carol Templeton, a girl from the provinces that manages to land a plum job in a Madison Avenue firm and lives in a fantastic Manhattan apartment that was only to be found in the movies. Carol dresses with style, but one wonders whose idea was to have her wear those hideous hats she constantly sports.
Carol's enemy turns out to be Jerry Webster, the playboy adman who steals everything from Carol's reach. As played by Rock Hudson, this is one of his best roles in comedy. Somehow he made us believe he was that man who has a knack to get what he wants, especially from the adoring women he charms.
The basic premise of the film is the constant battle between Carol and Jerry. Both stars do some of their best work as they clash over the new product that suddenly appears in ads all over the place. VIP is something nobody knows about, yet Carol wants to get the account. VIP turns out to be a product that gives its user a great feeling for only 10 cents. Sampling the product at the Ad Council, where Carol takes Jerry to be tried for his unprofessional conduct, turns out to be one of the best things that ever happened to Carol and Jerry and all the ones that have a taste of the product.
Doris Day was a beautiful comedienne. Her wholesome figure and natural charm is one of the best things this film has going for it. Rock Hudson also is excellent with his take of the lecherous Jerry. Tony Randall plays another of his neurotic characters. Edie Adams is only seen shortly, but in her few scenes, she is wonderful. Jack Oakie makes a great appearance as the Virginian with a taste for girls and booze on a business trip in Manhattan.
This is a comedy for Doris Day and Rock Hudson fans.
In New York, Madison Avenue is the center of advertising world and like
in a beehive, divided in workers and drones. Carol Templeton (Doris
Day) is a professional that has just arrived from Omaha, Nebraska, to
work in the Bracket, McGalpin & Gaines Advertising expecting to be a
winner through hard work. The unethical Jerry Webster (Rock Hudson)
works in the Ramsey & Son and entertains his clients with sexy women,
bribe and booze to ensure contracts for his agency.
When the Southern J. Paxton Miller (Jack Oakie) comes to New York to close the contract of the Cera Miller account, Carol prepares a presentation to the old man. However, Jerry wins the account bringing Miller to a nightclub with strippers, booze and a party later in his penthouse with the strippers led by Rebel Davis (Edie Adams).
Carol is upset and goes to the advertising council to throw Jerry out of the advertising business. However, Jerry lures Rebel, who is going to testify against him, offering the position of VIP girl in TV commercials for the new product VIP. Then he asks the team to not broadcast but only file the footages since VIP that does not exist. However, the insecure Peter 'Pete' Ramsey (Tony Randall), who has inherited the Ramsey & Son, orders a massive advertising campaign broadcasting the commercials to show himself off to his employees. In order to save his job and the agency, Jerry hires Doctor Linus Tyler (Jack Kruschen), who is a lonely man, to develop VIP.
Meanwhile, Carol decides to take the VIP account for her agency and she visits Dr. Tyler. However, she meets Jerry instead and believes that he is the famous scientist awarded with the Nobel Prize. Now Carol wants to convince Dr. Tyler to come to her agency and the cynical Jerry uses the situation to seduce Carol.
"Lover Come Back" is really a delightful and witty romantic comedy, with a funny story and a great screenplay that was awarded with the 1962 Oscar. Tony Randall is hilarious and his insecure character is among the funniest I have ever seen. Rock Hudson and Doris Day are excellent, showing magnificent chemistry. The two guys that stumble with Jerry Webster everywhere are also very funny. My only remark is to the disappointing rushed ending that gives the sensation that something is missing and makes Carol Templeton a stereotype of the women in the 50's and 60's. My vote is eight.
Title (Brazil): "Volta Meu Amor" ("Come Back My Love")
LOVER, COME BACK is a stylish and sophisticated sex comedy that reunited Doris Day, Rock Hudson, and Tony Randall in this story of rival advertising executives (Day, Hudson) who, though they've never met, can't stand each other and are always competing for the same clients which once again sets up a clever mistaken identity scenario that allows Rock to pretend to be someone else in order to woo an unsuspecting Doris. This is Doris and Rock's best film, IMO...a sparkling romantic comedy with a strong screenplay and once again, Doris again exemplifies the 60's working woman....one of the few actresses during this time in Hollywood consistently playing working women competing in a man's world. Doris and Rock get strong support from Randall, Jack Kruschen, Ann B. Davis, and especially Edie Adams. Doris' "virginity" never had more sex appeal than it did here.
Both Rock and Doris are caught up in the VIP madness. Trouble is that
no one knows what VIP actually is. You see that Rock made it all up to
get Edie Adams off his back. Unfortunately, his "crazy" boss, Tony
Randall, doesn't know this and as a result the hilarity begins.
Rock Hudson excelled in comedy roles when he would be imitating others so as to fool Doris Day. Remember Rex Stetson in another Rock and Doris film? As Jerry Webster, the advertising Casanova in this film, Rock gave a totally memorable performance. Doris plays Carol Templeton, a devoted advertising executive who can no longer stand losing accounts to Jerry, since he knows how to wine, dine and bed prospective clients.
The dialogue is crisp and riotous at best. Edie Adams as Rebel will make you laugh out loud with a darling southern accent. Jack Kruschen has his moments as the embittered chemist who can be bought. Interesting to note that both Adams and Kruschen appeared together the year before in "The Apartment." As is the case with this film as well, they weren't in any scenes together.
A romp in every sense of the word.
I love this movie. It's one of the wittiest and funniest comedies I've ever seen, and I can watch it over and over again without getting tired. I like "old" movies, but most comedies of the 50's and 60's contain some scenes where I can't help feeling a bit embarrassed because they are so old fashioned and can't be understood or laughed at 50 years later. But this movie is still perfect, although the mentalities have changed so much. The actors (Day, Hudson and Randall) are wonderful and there are not many pictures that catch the 60's better: the furniture, the clothes... And besides, is there an actor (or man) nowadays who has so much sex-appeal as Rock Hudson without looking as if he was 15 or without having many muscles and no brain? I love the song "Lover Come Back" and the opening credits too. If you like romantic comedies with wit, spirit and great actors, watch this one!
The feminist brigade will doubtless take offense, but this send-up of
Madison Avenue, careerist women and consumerism is hilarious. Jackie
Gleason was once asked why The Honeymooners has stood the test of time.
A bit peeved, he replied, "Because it's funny."
The same with Lover Come Back. Almost every line is a joke, and every single joke works it was funny in 1961 and is funny today. The script is tight and never insults our intelligence with implausible plot points. And the stars, Rock Hudson, Doris Day and Tony Randall, are at their peak. And the feature roles are filled with great character players (Anne B. Davis, Joe Flynn and the great Jack Oakie). You'd almost think it was the golden age of the Studio System.
It's difficult to summarize the plot, because it would be like explaining the punch line of a great joke. Trust me on this: Lover Come Back will go down as one of the great comedies in movie history.
There's a scene at the aquarium, where Jerry Webster seduces Carol Templeton. It takes place in front of a tank with an angler-fish and a minnow. Need I say more?
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The second of the three Doris Day - Rock Hudson - Tony Randall romps,
LOVER COME BACK actually is a slightly sharper film than it's closer
rival PILLOW TALK, with SEND ME NO FLOWERS a bit behind them. The
reason for this positioning is that PILLOW TALK did not really spoof
anything (Randall is producing a show and needs music composed by
Hudson; until the end when Hudson decides to allow Day to decorate his
apartment - with horrendous results - Day's interior decorating career
really was just a mild peg in the screenplay). SEND ME NO FLOWERS comes
closest to satire in the business with Paul Lynde's friendly, helpful
cemetery plot salesman. Most of the rest deals with hypochondria and
the world of the suburbs. Only in LOVER COME BACK does the center of
the script involve itself in the profession of the three leads: Madison
Avenue Advertising Agencies.
Hudson is the right hand man (one might say the central brain) for an ad agency that is owned (by inheritance, not character or brains) by Randall. Hudson has a formula for getting accounts - find the client's weakness, and play to it, pushing booze and girls at the same time. We see him steal the account of Jack Oakie (his final performance on film, but a nice one) as a Virginian who is still a loyal Confederate, and likes his booze ("jest a tetch" is a mantra of his, with Hudson or anyone else filling up the glass), and likes his fair ladies as well. Unfortunately for Hudson, Day had been scheduled to give a presentation to Oakie, and is really angry by the way Hudson stole the account. She starts asking questions, and finds the chief one of the chorus girls that Oakie was set up with (Edie Adams). When Hudson learns Adams plans to talk he tries to talk his way out by saying he was planning to make Adams the new "girl" for a new product. "Well, what is the product?", Adams asks. Hudson looks at a newspaper headline referring to V.I.P.s and says it is called "Vip". Adams does not testify against Hudson because he has a number of specious and vague, but sexy commercials shot with Adams selling "Vip".
All this might have still remained under wraps, but Randall, in his first attempt to show he can make decisions rather than Hudson, tells his assistant (Joe Flynn) to release the commercials and saturate the television airwaves with them. Only later does a horrified Hudson tell him that there is no product called Vip.
Day learns of "Vip" from Adams. She starts more of an investigation, and discovers that nobody is quite sure what VIP is. Her boss, Howard St. John, is dubious of any result. Her own job on the line she decides to investigate on her own. Hudson has decided to use an eccentric Nobel Chemistry Laureate (Jack Kruschen - in a fun performance) to concoct a product called Vip. At one point Day shows up at Kruschen's house, and sees Hudson wearing an apron. She jumps to the conclusion he is Kruschen, and starts trying to prevent him from signing with Hudson's agency. Hudson decides to take full advantage of this situation: it preoccupies Day in her snooping, and she is more attractive than he imagined.
The plot then follows that of PILLOW TALK with Day not realizing she is dating the man she loathes, not the imagined great man of science with a fragile psyche. Hudson plays it to the hilt (his comic abilities were first brought out by Day in their films, and it possibly enabled his career as a star to last really as long as it did). As for Randall, his desire to show he is worthy of his father "the Commodore" (a forbidding portrait of Randall in yachting costume is above the desk the son sits at) is confronted by his total lack of understanding his business, of making decisions, or taking responsibility. He keeps hoping either Hudson or Flynn will fall on their sword (symbolically will do, but he is open for actual suicide) to save his firm from being wrecked. His only apparent close relationship is with his therapist Dr. Melnick (Richard Deacon - in a sadly wasted single scene with Randall at the end), and even Randall mentions that Deacon has said he finds him boring.
So what does the great Kruchen concoct out of chemicals and smoke (multi-colored, as Randall finds to his cost)? Put it this way: It is very possible that that great Vice President of the U.S., Thomas Marshall, would have fully appreciated the perfect companion invented by Kruschen for Marshall's really good five cent cigar!
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