Lover Come Back

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The re-teaming of Doris Day and Rock Hudson...


Ralph McKnight


The movie-going public was waiting with anticipation for this movie.  The re-teaming of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. How could they equal or top "Pillow Talk", which had been a runaway hit- garnering Miss Day with an Oscar nomination and hurling her to the No. 1 spot on the Herald's Top Box Office list?

Critics were sharpening their poison pens and their wit, to bring down those who have climbed to the top of the heap.  They were shocked to discover that screenwriter, Stanley Shapiro, now teamed with Paul Henning had produced a clever, bright script that actually equaled or bettered "Pillow Talk". Doris Day's performance was much improved here, for she had found the right key in which to present the totally sophisticated character of Carol Templeton and Rock Hudson (Jerry Webster) looked more comfortable playing comedy than he did in the former film.  This movie became an instant success and was hailed as a triumph by the majority of film critics worldwide.



This time 'around, there was a better director, Delbert Mann, who handled this material with an expert's touch.  In reality, the film is very much like "Pillow Talk" because of the deceptive nature of the story, but the lines are funnier here and the situations are more risqué.

Jerry Webster and Carol Templeton work for rival advertising agencies on Madison Avenue.  Webster's firm has a reputation of stealing accounts from other agencies by using unscrupulous tactics to nab new accounts (wine, women and sex). Carol has plans to snag the Miller's Wax account, which is metamorphosing it's image with a new can and Templeton has, she thinks, just the right ideas to convince Mr. J. Paxton Miller (Jack Oakie) to give the account to her firm.  Webster, on the other hand, decides to shower the gentleman with liquor, women and carnal activities.  Guess who wins out? Furious at Webster's tactics, Carol accidentally learns from Webster's some times girlfriend, nightclub performer, Rebel Davis (Edie Adams) that he is going after a new account for a product called VIP.  Determined to "get even" with Webster for stealing the Paxton account, Carol sets out to outsmart her competition.She begins to mount a campaign for a product that doesn't exist.  Jerry Webster invented "VIP" to accommodate Rebel's disappointment in him at not getting her lucrative commercials and to bribe her into not testifying before the Advertising Council against him for unprofessional tactics in advertising.  You see, Carol Templeton has filed a complaint.



A determined Carol finds out that a Dr. Linus Tyler is the inventor of VIP and she sets out to snag the VIP account.  Meanwhile, Webster has employed Tyler to invent any product and call it VIP to save him from being barred in advertising and to prove that VIP does indeed exist.  All of this is occurring without Carol's knowledge, of course, and when she arrives at Dr. Tyler's laboratory in Greenwich Village, it is Jerry Webster that she meets, thinking that he is the doctor.  Being the wolf that he is, Webster does not reveal his true identity to sexy Carol, and decides to get back at his rival by romancing her, eventually into the bedroom. The plot is rather similar to that of "Pillow Talk" in a lot of places, but the script is sharper, filled with double entendres of a sexual nature and running gags, the funniest being between Jack Albertson and Charles Watts, as a couple of hotel guests who gleefully observe Webster's blatant womanizing from afar.



Playing "two roles", Rock Hudson is wonderful as Webster and in his shy, virgin-like disguise as "Dr. Tyler".  Audiences were rooting for him to bed the beautiful Miss Templeton in a very funny scene in which Webster voices doubt that he will "ever marry".  He has played the shy-guy routine to the hilt, convincing Carol that he is "not a man and that no woman would ever want me".  Carol pleads with him not to feel that way about himself, as wolf Jerry maneuvers her into the bedroom.  Just as she has decided to help him prove his manhood, she is "saved" by a phone call from her boss informing her that the man in her apartment is not Dr. Tyler.  She then finds out that he is actually Jerry Webster, her arch rival!   You can guess the rest.

Doris Day looked glorious in this film.  Of course, she handled the comedy like the expert she is at this sort of thing and the chemistry with Rock Hudson was perfect.  Tony Randall was again cheated out of a best supporting actor nod by the Academy and there was able support throughout by Edie Adams, Jack Oakie, Jack Kruschen (the real Dr. Tyler), Ann B. Davis, Joe Flynn and Donna Douglas.  Day sang two songs, the title, "Lover Come Back" and the ballad "Should I Surrender?"



Film Daily said at the time, "The comedy is breezily paced, full of zest and bounce, and designed for mass appeal.  Just about everybody should like it."  The New York Herald Tribune wrote "In 'Lover Come Back', we are graced with the sauciest, brightest, most blithe of sophisticated romantic comedies to show up in a long, long time… excellent cast… and the most brisk, witty dialogue that any American comedy has enjoyed in years."  The New York Times hailed it as "the funniest picture of the year." The costumes by Irene for Miss Day were stylish and smart and Frank DeVol's score added punch to the proceedings.  Also, the New York locale always adds to the quality of any picture.  All in all, this was a very successful movie and ended up on many Top Ten lists for the year, 1961.


Ralph McKnight, New York, June, 2001


On the set - photo Bob Willoughby




Doris Day wrote: "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

"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!" -  Rock Hudson




Opening Reviews

Employing the sure-fire marquee lure of Rock Hudson and Doris Day, the stars of the box-office smash, "Pillow Talk," plus another light and entertaining story by Stanley Shapiro, who also produced with Martin Melcher, results in a laugh riot with built-in audience appeal. That means business of blockbuster ingredients, such as Tony Randall in the chief supporting role, Eastman Color to enhance the plush Madison Avenue ad agency settings and Miss Day's chic costumes designed by Irene - what more could an exhibitor ask for to keep patrons happy?

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 is drowned out. The picture is booked for the Radio City Music Hall in February.

"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

Derald Hendry