It should have been called Do Not Distribute
I had not seen this 1965 picture in some years and, when I decided to review it for this website, 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, whose experience was almost exclusively in television, not films. Do Not Disturb is a ‘comedy’ by Milt Rosen and Richard Breen, based on a play by William Fairchild. Constant rewrites were required during the shooting, and Lucille Ball’s longtime writer Bob Carroll was hired to do one of them. He quipped that the title should have been changed to Do Not Distribute.
Veteran cinematographer Leon Shamroy and costume designer Ray Aghayan give the film what dignity it possesses. Day sings the cute soft rock title tune by Ben Raleigh and Mark Barkan over the clever titles, and a good supporting cast is provided for her, as usual. Rod Taylor, Australian hunk of Hitchcock’s The Birds, was chosen to co-star with Day in this, the first of their two pictures together. Legends such as Cary Grant, David Niven, and Rex Harrison had jumped at the opportunity to work with cinema’s top female star, which was an obvious move for Taylor to make. Unfortunately, this movie was not the vehicle that would earn praise for him, and it certainly didn’t live up to the quality film normally associated with Day.
The story concerns an American couple, Mike and Janet Harper (Taylor and Day), who move to England when his job as a wool executive has transferred him there. Janet is a flighty wife who loves every animal she sees, including wild foxes, has trouble with English money, and has problems trying to drive from the right side of the car.
In setting out to decorate their new home in the country, Janet’s search for just the right furniture leads her to the shop of a handsome French wolf, Paul Bellasi (Sergio Fantoni). Attracted to her and in order to spend more time with Janet, Paul tells Janet of an antique dining set that would be perfect for her home. The problem is that 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.
Thrilled by her purchase, fascinated with Paris, and charmed by her host, Janet accidentally gets drunk and spends the night in a bed at Paul’s shop. She and Paul awake in the morning, only to be greeted by an angry and jealous Mike, who is unaware that nothing untoward happened between Janet and Paul.
Although Mike does not know it, many of the other executives in the wool business are accompanied to conventions by their mistresses rather than by their wives. Somehow, it’s good for business! He goes to the convention, sans Janet, but with his assistant Claire (who has romantic feelings for him).
Meanwhile, a regretful Janet is convinced by her friend Vanessa (Hermione Baddeley) that she must go after Mike to explain. Arriving at the hotel, Janet suddenly sees the truth about the convention and she believes that Mike is cheating on her with Claire. Before everything is sorted out, Janet has been chased by an overly amorous, fat executive, who believes that she is Mike’s paramour.
Taylor looks embarrassed throughout and Day is overly cute at times, but otherwise turns in her customary polished performance. She is fun to watch playing kickball in the street and wearing a one-man-band outfit and is hilarious when lost and wandering around in the fog. Another good scene is the one in the pub, where Day sings the peppy Bob Hilliard-Mort Garson song, Au Revoir. Reginald Gardiner as Mike’s colleague is his usual stuffy self, and Baddeley is terribly British.
Day and Taylor redeemed themselves and saved their reputations by immediately filming The Glass Bottom Boat, which is an infinitely better film that got generally favorable notices and good box-office.
Ralph McKnight, New York
“A typical Doris Day product… Doris is a pro when it comes to her specialty – the coy little comedy.” – New York Daily News
“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.” – New York Herald Tribune
“A light, entertaining comedy… the stars play extremely well together” – Variety
“Doris Day has saved worse productions than this… but the material defeats everyone in the end.” – The Monthly Film Bulletin (UK)