Cary Grant: 4-Disc Collector's Set (Indiscreet, Operation Petticoat, The Grass is Greener, That Touch of Mink)
Lions Gate Entertainment // Unrated // $34.98 // January 8, 2008
Review by Paul Mavis | posted December 26, 2007
Who wants to knock Cary Grant
, after all? I certainly don't, but Lionsgate's Cary Grant: 4-Disc Collector's Set doesn't inspire a lot good will, featuring four of Grant's later, lesser efforts, presented in less-than-satisfactory DVD transfers with no extras. 1958's Indiscreet, 1959's Operation Petticoat, 1960's The Grass is Greener, and 1962's That Touch of Mink are included here - four mildly amusing (at best) attempts by an obviously coasting Grant - sporting flat, non-anamorphic letterboxed transfers from beat-up, faded prints that look no better than when Republic released them on VHS over 15 years ago.
It's well known that during Doris Day's
heyday in the late 50s and early 60s, Cary Grant's fingerprints were on most scripts that offered a leading man role in a romantic comedy. Certainly critics said as much when Rock Hudson scored with Day in the iconic wonder, Pillow Talk, in 1959. Hudson, a revelation as a light comedian, was favorably compared to Grant - but definitively in the junior position. So when Day and her husband/film producer Marty Melcher were casting around for another "Cary Grant type" for her next movie, they went one step further and co-produced with the star himself.
I've written before about Day's impact on film history during this period, so one might assume that That Touch of Mink might prove to be a highlight in both iconic stars' careers, but unfortunately, such is not the case. Slight when it should have been frothy, repetitive when it should have built with comic tension, That Touch of Mink is one of Day's least memorable "sex comedies" from her box office peak period, with both stars failing to generate believable chemistry between them.
The premise is simplistic (and wholly unbelievable). Grant plays Philip Shayne, a millionaire businessman who accidentally splashes Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day) with his Rolls, when she's standing by a mudpuddle in New York City. Trying to find her, Shayne finally spots her entering the AutoMat, and sends his Princeton economics professor/financial advisor/ flunky Roger (Gig Young) to reimburse her for any damages. Roger, who harbors deep resentment for Philip's money which tempted Roger to "sell out," encourages Cathy to personally confront Philip, but this backfires when Cathy falls instantly in love with the millionaire. Philip literally sweeps Cathy off her feet with a multi-city tour, before going in for the kill: the marriage-averse Philip offers her the chance to be his "companion" for an extended world-wide trip, with no strings attached.
Racked by indecision, the virginal Cathy steels herself to say no, but obstinately says yes when Philip - whose conscious is acting up - fails to call her for her final answer. Now, both Philip and Cathy are committed to their "arrangement," even though neither one of them really wants to go ahead with it. A trip to Bermuda proves disastrous when Cathy refuses to sleep with Philip, which perversely, makes Philip pursue Cathy even more strenuously. Will they eventually get together? What do you think.
That Touch of Mink was a huge hit when it came out; the loyal fans of each star came out in droves to see these two A-list stars spar and love on the big screen. Seen today, however, That Touch of Mink falls embarrassingly flat, with the central theme more crass and tasteless than comically naughty. There's a decidedly sniggering, almost mean-spirited tone to That Touch of Mink, emphasized by Grant's rather cold performance, that puts a pall over the film. Typically safe, lame sex jokes from the period abound (when Philip donates $200,000 to an unwed mothers' home, one of the matrons, who believes he's impregnated Day, says, "When a man donates $200,000, he's entitled to use the facilities."), but there's no getting around the fact that the stars are too mismatched, in both temperament and age. Grant, menopausally staid and stolid and grandfatherly looks tired and disinterested next to fresh-faced, bouncy Day, and their zero on-screen chemistry isn't helped by the frequently ridiculous script. Scenes grind on interminably (not an unusual occurrence with director Delbert Mann's films), and even the high-caliber supporting cast comes out blunted. Gig Young overdoes the giddy, almost beatific executive to the point of irritation, while Audrey Meadows grates unrelievedly as Day's cranky, abrasive friend. Flat, uninspired, and ugly to look at, That Touch of Mink is certainly one of Day's and Grant's more unmemorable films.