‘The funniest picture of the year’ – NY Times
In 1961, the movie-going public was waiting with anticipation for Lover Come Back, the reteaming of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. Could they equal or top the runaway hit Pillow Talk, which provided Day with an Academy Award nomination and hurled her to the number one spot on the Motion Picture Herald’s top box-office list?
Pillow Talk’s screenwriter Stanley Shapiro, now paired with Paul Henning, produced a clever, bright script that equaled – or possibly bettered – the earlier film, and director Delbert Mann handled their material with an expert’s touch. Day found just the right key in which to present her character of Carol Templeton, a sophisticated working woman. Hudson, as Jerry Webster, now appeared very comfortable doing comedy and his chemistry with Day was perfect. The film became an instant hit with audiences and was also hailed as a triumph by most critics worldwide.
Carol and Jerry work for rival advertising agencies on Madison Avenue. She has a strong business ethic, but he has a reputation of using unscrupulous tactics to steal accounts from other agencies. Carol has plans to land the Miller’s Wax account and has worked hard to develop an ad campaign that will convince J. Paxton Miller (Jack Oakie) to give the account to her agency. Despite her efforts, Jerry wins the account by plying Miller with liquor, women, and sex.
Furious at Jerry’s tactics, Carol files a complaint against him with the ad council. She then accidentally learns from one of Jerry’s girlfriends, Rebel Davis (Edie Adams), that he is going after a new account for a product called VIP. Determined to get even with Jerry for stealing the Miller’s Wax account, Carol sets out to beat her competition to the punch by designing an ad campaign that will bring her the VIP account. She is unaware, however, that VIP doesn’t really exist; Jerry just invented the product name during a conversation with Rebel.
So that the ad council cannot also accuse him of advertising a non-existent product, Jerry hires a reclusive chemist, Dr. Linus Tyler (Jack Kruschen) to invent any kind of product, which he will market as VIP. When Carol discovers that Tyler is the inventor of VIP, she visits his laboratory to try to land the account, not knowing that Jerry is already there. When he deliberately pretends to be Dr. Tyler, Carol is none the wiser. Soon she is being romanced by – and falls for – her rival.
The film is filled with risqué situations, funny dialogue, sexual double entendres, and running gags, the funniest being with Jack Albertson and Charles Watts as hotel guests who gleefully observe Jerry’s blatant womanizing.
Day handles the comedy like the expert she is, and looks glorious in the chic wardrobe designed by Irene. Playing two roles, Hudson is great in his portrayal of both the wolfish Jerry and the shy Dr. Tyler. Tony Randall, as Jerry’s boss, turns in another fine comedic performance. The supporting cast, including Ann B. Davis as Carol’s secretary, and Joe Flynn, is terrific.
Randall received a Golden Globe nomination as best supporting actor, as well as a Laurel award nomination for his comedy performance. Hudson and Edie Adams both received Laurel nominations for comedy. Day won the Laurel award for best actress in a comedy, the film won the Laurel award as best comedy of the year, and the screenplay got an Academy Award nomination.
Frank DeVol handled the musical scoring and co-wrote the title song, which Day sings during the credits, and in the film there is a voice-over of her sultry recording of “Should I Surrender?”
Ralph McKnight, New York
Doris Day said:
I had become a new kind of sex symbol – the woman men wanted to go to bed with, but not until you married her. Sexy but pure. One thing I was careful about in those films was to avoid vulgarity, which I truly despise. I liked those scripts about the man-woman game as long as they were done with style and wit and imagination. In my vocabulary, vulgarity begins when imagination succumbs to the explicit.
There was a scene in Lover Come Back in which Rock Hudson and I wake up in bed together in a motel, I in pajama tops, he in the bottoms. We have both been put under the spell of intoxicating wafers we had eaten. I felt the scene had a vulgar tone to it as it was originally written. In the reworking of it, it was established that we have visited a justice of the peace, in our cooky-intoxicated condition, and even though, in the film, Rock is the last man in the world I want to wake up with in a motel bed, and I run out on him, at least we had the blessings of a justice of the peace upon us. This is the film that has that wonderful scene at the end, in which Rock learns I am about to have the baby, rushes to the hospital just as I am being carted into the delivery room and marries me in a cart-side ceremony.” – Doris Day, Her Own Story
Rock Hudson said: “Two people really have to truly like each other, as Doris and I did, for that shines through, the sparkle, the twinkle in the eye as the two people look at each other. They, too, both parties have to be strong personalities – very important to comedy. God knows that Doris is a strong personality!”
“Under Delbert Mann’s knowing direction, his ruggedly handsome Hudson gives his most adroit comedy portrayal to date and his costar handles the role of an ad agency executive with her customary aplomb and warbles two songs briefly, one under the credits. Randall is once again a scene-stealer, this time as an ineffectual young business head and Edie Adams is well cast as a sexy model for TV commercials. Granted that the story is filled with clichés and that each is repeated several times, the audience howls are so loud and long that some of the dialog was drowned out.
The funniest picture of the year. If you thought Pillow Talk was a sleeper when it popped up in 1959 as a comedy hit uniting Rock Hudson and Doris Day, wait until you see their latest, Lover Come Back…Mr. Hudson and Miss Day are delicious, he in his big, sprawling way and she in her wide-eyed, pert, pugnacious and eventually melting vein. Altogether, the picture, in bright color, is one you had better not miss.” – New York Times
“Rock Hudson and Doris Day as rival advertising executives battling professionally, psychologically, and sexually. A bright comedy that builds nicely. One of the best. Silly, innocent fun with a great supporting cast.” – Video Movie Guide