Pillow Talk (1959)

Pillow Talk (1959), directed by Michael Gordon.

A studly bachelor develops a cunning plan to seduce his best friend's girl by pretending to be two people: his nasty self and a nice Texan. Good thing this is a comedy or that would be very bad. Everyone has opulent apartments, clothes and offices. It's kind of a return to the screwball comedies of the 1930s; people wanted to see rich and fashionable settings then, too.

Doris Day has grit, shows a gift for comic mugging and wears her clothes well. She does not project any sexual heat, which is a problem in romantic comedy. That's not exactly true: she warms up just slightly when challenged to prove Rock Hudson's manhood, and when agreeing to go with him to a cabin in the country (one of those great luxury cabins so beloved by screwball comedies).

Rock just does his Rock thing, magnetic to women without even trying. In a startling ploy he hints at being gay (loves his mother, interested in interior decorating and collecting recipes) to provoke Doris into making sure he's not. The old double-bluff. Another minor subplot has an obstetrician and his nurse thinking Rock may be the world's first pregnant man.

Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter supply welcome additional comedy.

When I was a kid I hated the dating game, bedroom farce, seduction genre. It seemed smarmy wanting to be smutty. Half a century later: it seems harmless.

The party line was an early form of social networking now superceded by other technology. It was becoming antiquated even when this film was released, although we had one into the early 1960s.

Available on Blu-ray with a chatty, wide-ranging commentary by three film scholars, two men and a woman. They get back to the movie from time to time.

This was Hudson's first comedy and he said Day taught him how to do it.