Doris Day deserved a heavier light comedy...
I had not seen this picture in some years and when I decided to review it for this website, I was truly hoping that I would enjoy it this time, since I hadn't in the past. Doris Day is directed, or should I say, misdirected by Ralph Levy in this 'comedy' by Milt Rosen and Richard Breen, which was based on a play by William Fairchild. Veteran cinematographer, Leon Shamroy with costumes designed by Ray Aghayan add what dignity the film possesses. A cute title tune, "Do Not Disturb" by Ben Raleigh and Mark Barkan was sung over the clever titles by Miss Day and good support was provided for the star, as usual.
Rod Taylor, Australian hunk of Hitchcock's "The Birds", was chosen for his first of two pictures with the legendary Miss Day. It was an obvious move that most male actors, "bubbling under the surface" to become elevated to the A-list, would have taken. Even legends like Cary Grant, David Niven and Rex Harrison jumped at the opportunity to co-star with the top female star in films (everybody wants to be in a hit movie!)
Unfortunately, "Do Not Disturb" was not the vehicle which would garner praise for Mr. Taylor and certainly did not live up to the quality of product, now associated with Doris Day. Director Levy was obviously dazzled by her star-power, for he allowed her to run amuck with the "aren't I cute" behaviour which would all but make Doris the main target for vicious comics who had a field day disparaging her innocent "virgin routine".
The story concerns American couple, Michael and Janet Harper, who move to England, after his job as a wool executive has transferred him there. Day plays the flighty wife who doesn't seem to understand that when a man is working, he doesn't have time to interrupt a board meeting to discuss wallpaper or what he wants for dinner with his wife. Mike seems irritated, as played by Rod Taylor, and rightfully so. Janet Harper was getting on my nerves, too! She, of course, loves every animal she sees, including some wild foxes, has trouble with English money and has problems trying to drive on the right side of the car. While Mike is trying to work, Janet sets out to decorate their new home in the country. Her search for just the right antique furniture leads her to the shop of a handsome French wolf, Paul Bellasi (Sergio Fantoni) who is immediately attracted to her. In order to spend more time with Janet, Paul tells her of an antique dining set that would be prefect for her home. The problem? It's in his Parisian shop. Not wanting to miss the opportunity to buy the set, Janet takes an impromptu plane trip with Paul to Paris.
When Mike finds out that she is in "the city of lights" with the handsome Frenchman, he is furious. Mike does not know it, but many of the other executives in the wool business have mistresses, that accompany them to their conventions, instead of their wives. Somehow, it's good for business. As a result, head buyer of Mike's wool company (Reginald Gardiner) plots with Harper's assistant, Claire Hackett (Maura McGiveney) to keep Janet away from the convention by fuelling the fire concerning Janet's Parisian "tryst" with Bellasi. Thrilled by her purchase, fascinated with Paris and charmed by her host, Janet accidentally drinks too much wine, gets drunk, plays kickball in the street, dons a one-man-band outfit in a pub, gets lost in the night fog and ends up in bed at Paul's shop. Paul, who expected to make love to Janet, reconsiders after she passes out. Dejected, he allows her to "sleep it off". They awake in the morning only to be faced by an angry and jealous, Mike, who, in a fit of jealous rage, blackens Paul's eye.
Mike leaves for the convention, sans Janet, but with Claire Hackett (who has romantic feelings towards him). A regretful Janet is convinced by friend, Vanessa Courtwright (Hermione Baddeley), that she must go after Mike to explain. Upon arriving at the hotel, Janet suddenly realises the truth about the convention and now believes that Mike is cheating on her with Hackett. What follows is a great deal of slapstick and other silliness, which attempts to disguise the weak script. Janet is being chased by an overly amorous, fat executive, who believes that she is Mike's paramour. This scene is reminiscent of the chase scenes at the conclusion of "Glass Bottom Boat" and the one in "Caprice", with much running up and down hallways, darting in and out of various rooms, causing havoc with every and anything that interferes with the pursuit.
As I said before, Rod Taylor looked embarrassed throughout, Doris was "overly cute" at times, but otherwise, turned in her customary polished performance. Gardiner was his usual stuffy self and Baddeley was "terribly British". There were a few good scenes, especially the one in the pub where Day sings the lovely, "Au Revoir" by Bob Hilliard and Mort Garson. She was fun to watch playing street football and wearing the one-man-band outfit and was hilarious, when lost and wandering around in the fog. One actor, Albert Carrier (Reynard), who danced with Doris at the party, must have fallen on hard times after this movie, for he ended up in non-sexual roles in hardcore pornographic films.
The New York Daily News said of the movie, "… a typical Day product …Doris is a pro, when it comes to her speciality - the coy little comedy."
The New York Herald Tribune wrote, "Miss Day's followers - and they are legion, judging from box-office figures - will probably get a bang our of their Doris as she works hard at being a typical housewife in a London suburb."
Variety called it "a light, entertaining comedy … stars play extremely well together"
The Monthly Film Bulletin (England) proclaimed, "Doris Day has saved worse productions than this … but the material defeats everyone in the end…"
To redeem themselves, Doris and Rod immediately went into "The Glass Bottom Boat", which is infinitely better than "Do Not Disturb". "Boat", with generally favourable notices and good box-office, saved both their reputations. "Disturb" was not one of my favourite Doris Day films.
Ralph McKnight, New York, May 2002