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Friday, 9 December 2011

The tree is toppled (Pillow Talk)

There is something incredibly charming about a playboy being cornered. I adore the process of his falling head over heels in love with the woman who obviously sets him straight and mends his gallivanting ways. But when you have the enterprising and glamorous Doris Day carry the baton of straightening the marvellous looking Rock Hudson, you know you are in for a gargantuan treat. This is sheer battle of the sexes, where the man temporarily triumphs in getting into the good books of the woman. But ultimately, the woman wins the power game when the man realises that all this skirt-chasing needs to be put to an end because this is the woman for him. Witty combats and funny interludes culminate in a happy and fulfilling end. That's the beauty of Pillow Talk, Michael Gordon's 1959 romantic comedy maximizing on the onscreen chemistry between Day and Hudson.

Brad Allen (Hudson) is the mighty tree that is loathe to being benched. A popular broadway songwriter, he enjoys his romps with a new doll everyday. His mornings are made up of writing new scores and singing to his ladies on a party line, which he shares with Jan Morrow (Doris Day), a gifted interior decorator. The constant conversations that Allen has with his lovelies are a pain to Morrow as she finds her party line always engaged and hence, cannot make important business calls. She would rather have a separate line than share a party line with this incorrigible 'sex maniac'. She makes her discontent every time she picks up the phone and unmistakeably finds Allen singing to one of his numerous paramours, but Allen is least affected. And when pushed too hard, Allen complains that Morrow is enjoying vicariously by eavesdropping on his conversations because her life is too staid and boring. Morrow is thoroughly vexed at these outrageous suggestions.
A good-looking woman that she is, she is amply wooed by Jonathan Forbes (Tony Randall), a millionaire who also happens to be Brad's friend. But when he proposes marriage to this 'sweet girl' she refuses saying that she just does not love Jonathan to tie the knot. Plenty of pleas notwithstanding Jan is strict in her decision. Jonathan takes his weeping heart to Brad, who is quite amused at the notion of this Jan Morrow being a looker. His interest is piqued by the manner in which Jonathan describes her and longs to meet her. But he knows for sure that if she were to know who he really is, Morrow wouldn't be interested even an iota in making an acquaintance with him.
A chance encounter proves to Brad how gorgeous the other end of his party line is and he is aptly kicked to fetch her attention. The resourceful guy that he is, Brad disguises himself with a fake Southern accent and pretends to be Rex Stetson, a Texas bred ranch boy with an honest heart and an unpretentious air. The battle of the sexes start right here. Jan finds this man so splendid looking and happily mingles with him. Rex floors her with his country manners but keeps his distance from her so that she does not find him too eager. Brad, knowing full well what is going on, tries to fob off Morrow by maligning Rex but since he is the director of this skit, pulls the plugs appropriately so that Jan is intrigued by Rex and necessarily drawn towards him. The scene where Brad suggests that Rex is gay only whets Jan's eagerness to get closer to Rex and when Rex keeps his hands off her for too long a time, Jan falls into the rabbit hole, evidently and hopelessly in love. What a superlatively done romance!
But there is also Jonathan who will have to tell Jan that Rex is none other than Brad, the skirt-chaser. And once he does that Jan will obviously be seething with rage for having being gulled. But will this girl keep being angry with Brad? And will Brad allow her to stay away?
Pillow Talk is a romance that hooks you right from the beginning. The lines, the incidents, the characters are all etched to draw you instantly. I love Alma (Thelma Ritter) who unknowingly acts as a catalyst in helping Jan decide about Rex. A sip is enough to decide whether the bottle of wine is worth it, and Alma is definitely correct about that. Hung over and stoned every single day, her antics are funny. Tony Randall might not be hilarious here (like in Lover Come Back) but he definitely peps up every scene in which he is used. The dialogues are just superb, you've got to hear them to believe each one of them. The clothes are lovely. The men look dapper in their suits and Day looks stylish in her dresses and gowns.
The songs are apt and take the story forward. When Brad sings an Italian version of his 'Inspiration' song to his Italian girlfriend, I find it darn amusing. My favourite is of course Hold me tight, kiss me right. What a sublime romantic ballad! And of course, Rolly Polly. It sure gives me a high!!
This brings us to the lead pair. Ahh! What a blissfully happy picture they make. Rock Hudson is earth-ludicrously handsome (It's so difficult to accept that he was gay!) and Doris Day is lovely and charming. Both know that they are smart, witty and intelligent. Both are ready to give each other a tough fight for supremacy and yet both are eager to give themselves up to each other. Doris Day is a confident young woman who knows what she wants, is devoid of the silliness of Brad's girlfriends. She is sassy, glamorous and has a mind of her own. She is spirited and feisty with one hell of a cute button nose, a halo of bouncy golden locks and a ravishing smile. I love the mature sound of her voice. No simperings, no heavy breathings. She makes falling in love look so glorious and glamorous.  
Rock Hudson makes me go weak in the knees. He is tall, strong and robust. His devilish grin can rob my sleep any time. His swept back black mane adds character to his chiseled rugged face. (There is one scene where he is hungover and has himself covered loosely in a housecoat. His well-toned chest is peeking out of the folds of the coat. Man! I can barely think straight right then!!) His sonorous baritone demand attention. His flirtatious personality is ridiculously appealing. He hops, skips and jumps from one girl to the other with effortless ease. But then when the 'tree is toppled' finally, there is a satisfaction in seeing the gorgeous couple do the final romp... That's the beauty of Pillow Talk. It ensures you go to bed hale, hearty and happy...


  1. Mmm. :-) It's sexist, I know, but I still love this film - and yes, for me too, Thelma Ritter and Roly-poly were among the best bits in Pillow Talk - besides the Doris Day-Rock Hudson combo, of course. I do wish the two of them (and Tony Randall) had done more films together than just the three. They made an awesome trio.

  2. @Dustedoff: Yes, it's sexist, but still you know, we girls will never have enough of the Mills and Boon kind of flicks :D
    It's strange that though this trio was such a hit, not many directors tried to cast them together. Or else we would have had so many of of these kind of movies to have fun with :)

  3. I had been looking for this film ever since I read dustedoff's review. A friend of mine has downloaded and given it to me but havent got around to seeing it yet. It sounds so wonderful!

  4. Looks like another must watch :)

  5. @Sunheriyaadein: Watch it soon. It's delightful. A tad sexist but delightful!!

  6. I watched it the same night (last week) with my flatmates and we all totally loved it. We were literally swooning over Rock Hudson! And envying Doris's outfits and accessoties. And yes, dialogues were awesome - witty and fun. So what if it's sexist, it was so much fun watching it.

  7. @Sunheriyaadein: Told you you'd like it !!