American couple Janet and Mike move to England for his business. She soon becomes paranoid that he is having an affair with his attractive secretary, and decides to get back at him by pretending she herself has been unfaithful.
Jane Osgood runs a lobster business, which supports her two young children. Railroad staff inattention ruins her shipment, so with her lawyer George, Jane sues Harry Foster Malone, director of the line and the "meanest man in the world".
Jennifer Nelson and Bruce Templeton meet when Bruce reels in her mermaid suit leaving Jennifer bottomless in the waters off Catalina Island. She later discovers that Bruce is the big boss at her work (a research lab). Bruce hires Jennifer to be his biographer - only to try and win her affections. However, there's a problem. Bruce's friend General Wallace Bleeker believes that Jennifer is a Russian spy, and he has her placed under surveillance. Then, when Jennifer catches on...Watch Out! Written by
Director Frank Tashlin tries to do for Doris Day what he did for Lucille Ball (Miss Grant Takes Richmond), Bob Hope (Son of Paleface), and Jerry Lewis (Who's Minding the Store, many others) casting her in a comedy full of cartoonish color, gadgets, and slapstick. Not surprisingly Tashlin started as a director of Warner Brothers cartoons, moved into live action as a gag writer and became one of the most stylish directors of comedies. In many of his films Tashlin's world is full of out-of-control vacuum cleaners, remote control appliances, and a struggle to cope with the fast pace of modern civilization. In The Glass Bottom Boat (the title is misleading, the Catalina Island attraction is around just for the opening number) Tashlin pokes fun at the spy genre (most notably The Man From U.N.C.L.E. which was a popular TV show at the time). Rod Taylor is Day's romantic interest and the intellectual and corporate head of an aerospace corporation. He lives in a dream house with resort-style guest rooms, a futuristic kitchen, and a foyer that seems to go on forever. Doris Day plays an employee at his company who is mistaken for a spy by everyone but Taylor. Actually she is a widow who lives with her dog (he has a Russian name which adds to the confusion of her being a spy), some fish, and mockingbirds. The mockingbirds are tied into the title song which is sung to the tune of "Mockingbird." (At least one professional critic missed the purpose of the Mockingbird song that's why I'm bringing it up.) Taylor and Day have pretty good chemistry but the story is more about the chase so we don't see much romance. Instead Tashlin prefers to tie the story together with slapstick scenes such as Hi-Fi installer Dom DeLuise and Day getting their feet stuck in a trash can, Day being chased by a robotic floor sweeper, and Day in a runaway (remote control) speed boat. These are signature pieces for Tashlin and he does a good job with them but Doris Day seems a bit out of place. Slapstick requires the actor to fill in the time with quick broad expressions and physicality. We think of a physical actress like Lucille Ball trapped in a glass shower filled with water and drawing laughs from her expressions and cries. In a similar scene with an automatic floor sweeper Doris Day just seems to be there letting the antics on stage play itself out. In another scene she's virtually hanging on in an out-of-control speed boat. We can imagine Jerry Lewis changing expressions every half second and flipping on his back every two. Tashlin's skill makes the scenes funny, but they are not as hilarious as when cast with a physical clown. Day does a lot better in the quieter romantic comedy scenes and is given incredible support by a never-ending list of character actors who steal each and every one of their scenes. Among the best are Paul Lynde as a security chief who dons poor disguises and Dick Martin as Rod Taylor's "good-time" partner. Paul Lynde is joined by fellow Bewitched alumni George Tobias and Alice Pearce, virtually replaying the neighbors of that TV show Mr. and Mrs. Kravitz, this time as Doris Day's neighbors, and watch for Robert Vaughn in a quick cameo as The Man From U.N.C.L.E. himself. Add to this a rare supporting role by Arthur Godrey (with his trademark ukulele) as Doris Day's dad (they sing a duet), 60's comedy "stuffy character" actors Edward Andrews and John McGiver, and a pre-Walton's Ellen Corby as Rod Taylor's maid. Most films from this era can look really outdated but the sets here still look retro-cool. For breezy 60's fun the film is worth a look and despite a slow start seems to get better and better all the way to the end as the supporting characters come together and start interacting with each other, not just with Day. If only the entire film had the energy of the finale there might have been some much needed belly laughs generated.
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