Day and Grant – masters of sophisticated comedy
That Touch of Mink may not be quite as good as Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, the Stanley Shapiro scripted comedies that preceded it, but it’s still a delightful comedy romp. It was the second biggest money-making film of 1962 and the first film to gross more than $1 million at NYC’s Radio City Music Hall. Eventually, it grossed nearly $2 million during its record-breaking run there.
It’s glossy and slightly improbable, but the dream pairing of Cary Grant and Doris Day, both masters of sophisticated comedy, smoothes over many of the rough edges. They are assisted by a wonderful supporting cast including Gig Young, Audrey Meadows, and John Astin.
The film opens with Doris being splashed by Cary’s limo, which sets up a merry battle of the sexes: Cary vigorously pursues Doris, who receives dry advice from roommate Meadows, who works in a New York City automat. The premise is simple, but the writing is sharp and often hilarious. The settings are lush and picturesque, as the pair twice go to Bermuda, as well as visit the United Nations and a Yankees game. Not quite so lush at a place called Al’s Motel!
The film won a Golden Globe as Best Comedy of 1962, due in large part to the stylish manner in which the cast made the situations come alive. At 58, Grant is still the master of the suave and sophisticated line. Nobody before or since can inhabit a role like Cary Grant. Doris Day more than holds her own against Grant, showing brilliant comic timing, especially in a scene where she becomes inebriated and falls out of a hotel window. Her double takes are classic.
Sure, it can be dismissed as fluff, but its of such a high quality that it can be enjoyed for what it is. Every film doesn’t need to challenge the viewer or be analyzed for some hidden message. That Touch of Mink provides a cargo of laughs and that’s all it sets out to do. On that level, it succeeds admirably!
Paul E Brogan
Doris Day said about Cary Grant: “Of all the people I performed with, I got to know Cary Grant least of all. He was a completely private person, totally reserved, and there was no way into him. Our relationship on A Touch of Mink was amicable but devoid of give-and-take. Not that he wasn’t friendly and polite – he certainly was. But distant – very distant. But very professional – maybe the most professional, exacting actor I ever worked with. In the scenes we played, he concerned himself with every little detail: clothes, sets, production values, the works. Cary even got involved in helping to choose the kind of mink that I was to wear in the film.” – Doris Day, Her Own Story
Ralph McKnight takes a different view of That Touch of Mink:
Of all her comedies, this is the most offensive
Out of respect for Cary Grant’s long and distinguished film career, Doris Day, the number one box office star in the world, allowed his name to precede hers as they shared equal billing in That Touch of Mink. At a time when she was clearly more popular, she had been similarly generous with only two male co-stars, James Stewart, The Man Who Knew Too Much, and Clark Gable, Teacher’s Pet.
That Touch of Mink rejuvenated Grant’s career and gave him something he had not enjoyed since Operation Petticoat three years earlier, a box-office smash. The picture opened in New York at Radio City Music Hall to enthusiastic reviews and solidified Day’s number one standing at the box-office.
Day plays an unemployed computer operator who, after being splashed by Grant’s limo, meets and falls in love with him. She wants to get to the altar with her self-respect intact; Grant, on the other hand, is a millionaire playboy who is attracted to Day but doesn’t have marriage in mind.
By this point, Day had developed some familiar comedy traits which had gotten many laughs in her previous films, but were wearing thin with this outing. This film puzzled many viewers and made her the butt of jokes on the comedy club circuit. The fierce protection of her virginity and nervousness about amour, even in 1962, seemed unrealistic for a woman of her age. The script kept emphasizing the fact that Day was afraid of sex, even to the point of breaking out in hives at one point.
Of all of her comedies, this one is the most offensive. One wonders why Day and Meadows had such low opinions about men, while at the same time plotted and schemed on how to snag them. Also, Hollywood needed to explain how an unemployed young woman and her roommate, who works in an automat, can live in such a beautiful apartment and wear such expensive clothes!
Gig Young played virtually the same role that he played in Teacher’s Pet and was fun to watch here. Audrey Meadows reminded me of Eve Arden and delivered her lines with sharp sarcasm. John Astin was appropriately sleazy, and Dick Sargent was okay in a brief but effective bit.
That Touch of Mink was Universal’s highest-grossing picture of the year. Grant received a Golden Globe nomination as best actor in a comedy, and both he and Day won Laurel Awards for their comedy performances. Stanley Shapiro’s screenplay was Oscar-nominated and won the Writer’s Guild of America award for best comedy screenplay.
This film was a hit because every picture in which Doris Day appeared during this period was a guaranteed goldmine. Personally, I would have preferred a different, more mature, script for Day and Grant, perhaps a dramatic love story. The picture does have its funny moments, but sinks far below the best of the Day comedies such as The Thrill of it All and Lover Come Back.
Ralph McKnight, New York
“They don’t come much flimsier than this: playboy Cary Grant pursues cute Doris Day back in the time when, apparently, good girls didn’t; and Doris certainly won’t. Quite silly, but with two of the screen’s greatest charmers in tandem, it’s irresistible.” – The Guardian
“A very popular Doris Day vehicle from her post-Pillow Talk second coming, in which she co-stars with Cary Grant. The movie only works if you accept that Day won’t sleep with Grant, which might have made sense back in 1962 but hardly at all now: after all, these are two of the best-looking and most sophisticated people in the world. But that’s the plot — will she or won’t she, and we know she won’t.
This is quintessential Doris Day fluff, complete with quite unnecessary heavily-gauzed close-ups, and Grant can barely disguise the fact that he’s getting a little too long in the tooth for such foolishness. Still, there’s much charm and, if you accept the premise, this is a lot of fun.” – BBC Radio Times
“That Touch of Mink was one of Doris’ top grossing film and it was an enormous financial success, through the inspired teaming of Cary Grant and Doris Day. However, the reviews were mixed over this ‘one-joke’ comedy film. Gig Young and Audrey Meadows add some sparkle to this Universal outing.
Doris plays an unemployed computer operator who is initially insulted, but later swept off her feet, by a rich business tycoon. He proposes a trip to Bermuda. She thinks he offers marriage, but he offers only the trip. Even though Doris is discouraged from tagging along by her roommate, she travels to Bermuda against her own better judgement and upbringing, which triggers a nervous rash. Their relationship cannot be consummated, so she tries liquor instead and even tries to make Grant jealous by seeking another partner. He finally agrees to marry her to save her honour, only to develop a nervous rash of his own. The adroit Stanley Shapiro has written a lively, lilting script that has as much glittering verbal wit and almost as much comic wit as (his) Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back.” – The New York Times
That Touch of Mink was Cary Grant’s 69th film, his only film with Doris Day, and the only time he was directed by Delbert Mann. Doris Day was paid $750,000 and Cary Grant received $600,000, plus a percentage of the profits (a much better deal). This is the first film to earn more than $1million in a single theatre, Radio City Music Hall, New York. – From carygrant.net