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1962. It was a simplier time. Kennedy was not yet assassinated. Elevators still had operators in them. I was in high school. And, you could make a hit movie like "Boys' Night Out" with not much of a story, but with sevral big stars. As a teenager I had a big crush on Kim Novak. I thought she was the embodiment of the perfect, beautiful, sexy girl. Almost 40 years later I can still say I think she was just about the most attractive female star ever. And, she is very good here as the graduate student doing a study for her advanced degree in Sociology. James Garner was just perfect as her eventual love interest.
Some films ought to be seen in the context of the era in which they
were made. It's unfair, in a way, to dismiss a lot of them because they
appear to be dated, or because they don't hold our attention because
one can't identify with the subject which is being treated. This seems
to be the case of "Boys Night Out", a mildly amusing comedy from the
early 60s. Directed by Michael Gordon, it shows its age, but still,
there are a lot of ingredients that show the viewer how we lived during
those less complex times in this country.
"Boys Night Out" would be impossible to make in the present climate. Where could stars of the stature of Kim Novak, James Garner, Tony Randall, be found to play in it? Salaries alone would make such an enterprise impossible by today's standards, and yet, a little more than forty years ago, this sleek package was put together without much problem, or so it appears.
The film offers some rewards to the viewer that stays with it. The idea of four men getting together to rent an apartment and get a dream woman to cater to their fantasies would not be easy to do without including a lot of sex. Little do these men realize they are, in turn, being a case study for the same woman they all desire.
Kim Novak, at the height of her beauty, does a wonderful job with her Cathy. James Garner also has wonderful moments, especially playing opposite Jessie Royce Landis, who appears as his mother. Tony Randall, Howard Duff, Oskar Homolka, Zsa Zsa Gabor, Jim Backus, Fred Ward, and the rest of the cast are good in the film.
"Boys Night Out" is a comedy about male fantasy about the best of two different worlds.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Four buddies (James Garner, Tony Randall, Howard Duff, Howard Morris)
have a night out together in town away from the spouses of Randall,
Duff, and Morris (Janet Blair, Anne Jeffreys, and Patti Page) and
Garner's mother (Jessie Royce Landis) once a week. They notice Garner's
boss (Larry Keating) going out with his girl-friend (Garner knows
Keating's married). The next day Garner has a talk with Keating and
they discuss the difficulties of carrying out his affair. Keating
admits it is expensive, but he can afford it by renting an apartment
for the girl-friend. Later Garner talks to his friends about the
possibility of doing this. Individually none are as well to do as
Keating, but together they might share the expense of an apartment.
They find an apartment (a furnished one) in a building managed by Jim
Bacchus (a brief part, unfortunately), who can give them a good price
due to a recent scandal connected to the apartment. They hire Kim Novak
as the lady to keep in the apartment, and then set up a schedule for
each to see her once a week every week. What they don't know is that
Novak is working on a psychological/sociological study on male sex
fantasies under her adviser, Oscar Homolka. Although Homolka warns
Novak that this set up can lead to trouble, she reassures him, that she
will keep things under control.
This is the detailed background of this farce, and it probably sounds dated and pretentious by now. Would you believe it is very funny. The script is crisp, not smarmy as it would appear from the opening paragraph above. The three young husbands from suburbia are more concerned with private matters than sex, and Garner is growing angry at the arrangement as he falls harder and harder for Novak. Novak, besides taping and writing her findings is constantly finding her own attraction to Garner hard to fight.
In the course of the film 1960s suburbia living is spoofed, from travel in commuter trains to little league games (the scene here is extremely funny). Howard Morris rarely appeared in major rolls in films. His particular crutch is that his wife, Patti Page, insists on both dieting so she can keep the figure he loves. Problem is that Morris is a small, thin man. It is hard to imagine him putting on weight crazily. Instead, he is being fed salads and health food, and he craves steak and potatoes (actually so does Page, which doesn't come out until the end of the film). The whole dieting culture (which is still with us) gets spoofed here because Novak controls Morris by giving him big, mouth watering dinners. Feed him and he is satiated.
Randall is his normal know-it-all type. Notice in one of the commuter train sequences how he tries to prevent an argument between Garner and Randall, Morris, and Duff by telling a long winded story to them that is true about two brothers. The way this is handled is wonderful, because you know what was said, and you don't, and you feel better for not knowing.
The wives get suspicious and hire a private detective recommended by Landis - Fred Clark. Clark's friendly but efficient gumshoe is another plus in the film. He does get the goods on the guys.
Finally, the moral turning point for Garner comes in a scene that I frankly recommend to anyone seeking two first rate pros interacting. James Garner is one of those actors who make everything seem really easy when he performs. One is sure this is very difficult acting, but it looks nice when done. William Powell was that smooth an actor. So was William Bendix. In this film only did Garner and Bendix appear together. Garner is having a drink (actually several) and talking to Bendix the bar tender (Mr. Slattery), and opening up on his feelings about Novak, the apartment, and the arrangement (but he talks of this as regarding an acquaintance of his). Garner is perfectly at ease, but business-like in describing it. Bendix is doing what any bartender does - he is wiping the bar, putting out pretzels, pouring drinks. It is very natural. But Bendix has been listening, and he proceeds to give his opinion. He thinks the "acquaintance" should tell the girl what he thinks and feels about her. Then, with a pause while he watches Garner finish his second drink, Bendix says, "And he should lay off the sauce!" Garner looks at Bendix, and says, "You know something Mr. Slattery?" Bendix looks pleasantly at Garner,who then says, "You know something Mr. Slattery!" The camera pans on the mutually fond gaze between those two smooth pros.
The conclusion of the film was wonderful as wives, Landis, husbands, Garner, Homolka, Clark, and Novak confront each other and two neighbors (one trying to convert everyone). It is about three minutes long, but it is really funny. Let us just say that everything works out, but the cross purposes and wires of those three minutes are fantastic.
Blacklisted writer Michael Gordon returned to Hollywood to direct such
harmless diversions as this one about four bored middle-class commuters who
dream of leaving their humdrum existences and revisiting their idea of a
dream bachelor pad, replete with wet bar, long sofa, fantastic view, and
what may be the most voluptuous idea of a mistress the Hollywood of the
sixties had to offer--a sociology student doing her thesis on the sex life
of the suburban male played by Kim Novak. This movie would be a drag
without her. She takes her place among the best American movie sex symbol
acts of that time: Gina Lollobrigida in "Come September"; Tuesday Weld in
"Soldier in the Rain"; Sue Lyon in "Lolita"; Virna Lisi in "How to Murder
Your Wife." It was a good year for Novak--1962. Richard Quine ("Operation
Mad Ball") directed her opposite Jack Lemmon in what I think is her funniest
and most mysterious performance as "The Notorious Landlady." Her best
moments on screen have always been the ones where she played smart women,
and Cathy and Carlyle Hardwicke are two of the smartest she's ever
This movie is fun to watch. The morals, the clothing, the furniture, the suits, the hairstyles, the hats, the booze, the husbands and wives--are pure 1962. It captures, in a very exaggerated and silly way, an era in American society that will never exist again. It's a time capsule. That's what makes this film so vintage and enjoyable. It's a "sex comedy" without the sex--very popular in those days. It's amazing to think that only five years later, hippies and war protesters were making their mark on society, and films like "Easy Rider" were being created, changing the landscape of Hollywood and pop culture forever. So think of this film as a showpiece of how America was (in a highly exaggerated way) before we learned to question authority and discard many of the foolish rules and regulations we grew up with. Just enjoy it for what it is! It's fun to see Kim's apartment and her wardrobe is cool!
I just saw the film the other night while watching a mini-marathon of other early 60's comedies. This film is the one that stuck out in my mind as being great. This movie serves the purpose that any good movie should serve, that being it is entertaining.
A feline and spacey Kim Novak seems to arrive from another planet in
this romantic comedy from the blacklisted director of Pillow Talk. It's
James Garner and Kim instead of Rock Hudson and Doris Day -- so
underneath the squeaky clean froth, their clinches have just a hint of
real sexual chemistry. Clever script has theatrical touches if no
depth. Second bananas play their farcical roles well, especially Tony
However feast your eyes on the apartment, the height of Kennedy-era Mod; don't miss the turquoise kitchen, his-and-her bedrooms, and more.
Would make a nice double feature with the new remake of Stepford Wives. There's a happy ending (of course): The men discover 'boy's night out' is actually more fun if the women come, too. That's progress, in a tiny way.
No offense to some of you, but I very seldom agree with that whole "It was a simpler time" thinking, because EVERY decade is full of people saying that about every PREVIOUS decade! (And they're probably always partly right and partly wrong.) And in a way, this movie is evidence of that - it's full of characters analyzing (and over-analyzing) subjects (like why the men want to fool around - which of course COULD BE because they just WANT TO). And of course, it's full of the whole "Men from Mars, Women from Venus" subject, and of course, "Kinsey"-type sex surveys. So as one person on the message boards (partially) says, it's a case of "The more things change...." Luckily, this movie makes light of all these things. There's a line toward the end where Jessie Royce Landis makes a reference to "the Kennedys getting elected." This always reminds me of the difference between a movie MADE in the early ' 60s and any given one SET in the early ' 60s - the latter OFTEN has Kennedy references (and many OTHER topical ones) squeezed in EDGEWISE, instead of A FEW, worked in CASUALLY, the way it's done here. Of the supporting actors, I think William Bendix had the best part, as the bartender with the friendly advice for James Garner.
Boys' Night Out (1962) is one of those easy breezy comedies that comes
on TCM a few times a year. I record it, watch it a few times, then
delete it thinking I'll buy it, but then it comes on again to my
It's about a group of 4 men, 3 married with children and one divorced and living with his mother, who cook up a zany scheme to secure and share a NYC love pad with a young beautiful blonde to break the boredom in their lives. Little do they know, they are the subject of their ideal beautiful 25 year old blonde's own scheme, and she willingly agrees to be available for each "boys'" night out.
If you are thinking it's a love-fest, remember this was distributed in 1962, so there are lies and innuendo, but Kim Novak, in a role easily played by Doris Day just a few years before, maintains her virtue and the wives get their chance to get even. Novak shines in one of her best comedic roles. She and leading man James Garner have great chemistry. He's so handsome and hilarious at the same time. If you've never seen his comedies before his star of television days, then keep your eyes peeled for his movies. He's a charmer who always delivers a great performance. Tony Randall and Jessie Royce Landis lead the supporting cast. They always add tremendously to a picture.
This film is on the tail end of the really tastefully cute comedies, and it's a great film to enjoy when you want pure rom-com escapism. One more thing, it gets better with repeated viewings. Some new lines pop out each time that make it even more enjoyable. I didn't love it the first time as much as I have each time since.
Just looking at the lovely Kim Novak is enough for any man (or woman). She most convincingly plays her part in this comedy romp from 1962, a very dated 1962 film at that, although the premise and, really, the events, are timeless. Who can ever tire of her beauty. James Garner was so handsome in his youth as well. We also see the delightful Anne Jeffreys. I enjoyed this comedy and recommend it. It is a rather pleasant not so over the top comedy and an enjoyable film. I repeat again, whatever Kim Novak is in a movie, she brings not only her spectacular beauty but a marvelous acting ability. The dresses she wears in this movie are terribly outdated, but I recommend the movie for one and all.
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