Doris Day was at the end of her film career as sex, almost hardcore, landed on screens
I had no idea when I went to see With Six You Get Eggroll in New York that it would be the last film in which Doris Day would appear. From reading the reviews, I was poised to believe that the picture was similar to another film, Yours, Mine and Ours, starring Lucille Ball and Henry Fonda, which was a bawdy, predictable and loud film with too many children. Much to my surprise and pleasure, Eggroll had very little similarity and was quite an enjoyable, satisfying experience.
Doris Day was at the end of her film career as sex, almost hardcore, had landed on America’s screens – with films including Mike Nichols’s The Graduate, which Marty Melcher, Day’s husband-manager, turned down because they both felt that it was vulgar. Unfortunate, because The Graduate could have saved her film career and carried her through the 1970s.
With Six You Get Eggroll was a familiar story to which audiences could relate. Two unmarried people, Abby McClure (Day) and Jake Iversen (Brian Keith) both with children, meet, fall in love and decide to get married. Of course, their offspring feel resentful and, inevitably, chaos arises. Brian Keith, a film actor and star of television’s Family Affair, was chosen as Doris Day’s new co-star and was an excellent choice, considering the scenario. He was no Hudson or Garner type but played a rugged, believable guy that would attract an Abby McClure personality as played by Doris Day.
The picture marked the screen debut of Barbara Hershey who plays Keith’s possessive daughter, Stacey, a schoolmate of Doris’ son, Flip (John Findlater). Day has two other sons, Mitch and Jason (Jimmy Bracken and Richard Steele) who are typically unruly for their young ages. Alice Ghostley portrays Doris’ maid, like Paul Lynde in drag. She is very funny, as is Pat Carroll as Miss Day’s matchmaking sister, Maxine.
The picture really isn’t about anything – simply a series of events that spark arguments, jealousy, slapstick and romance. Doris Day is absolutely charming in her role and her years of screen acting yielded a first-rate performance.
I also enjoyed Day’s natural air when she was finally alone in her house, getting a snack and walking to her lonely bed. Beautiful and totally unaffected. There is slapstick, expertly handled by Miss Day, of course, and an array of familiar faces along the way. Vic Tayback (Alice) as a truck driver, Jackie Joseph (Doris Day Show), Allen Melvin (All in the Family), George Carlin as Herbie, and Peter Leeds, a veteran of many Day films added bright moments to the proceedings.
Even Doris Day had no idea that this would be her final film. In real-life, Marty Melcher died, she discovered he had squandered her vast fortune and, without her knowledge, signed Miss Day to star in a television series at CBS. So went her film career.
Ralph McKnight, New York
“Doris Day’s last movie so far is this amiable trifle, in which she plays a widow with three sons who marries convenient widower Brian Keith, father of teenage daughter Barbara Hershey, hence the arch title. The offspring object to the relationship and mileage is gained from episodes like Doris driving off in a trailer leaving Keith in his underwear by the roadside. Presciently, Doris’s best scenes are opposite a dog called Lord Nelson. There’s a tired sixties gloss to the whole thing (watch for M*A*S*H’s Jamie Farr as a hippie) and it’s easy to see why Doris called it a Day.” – Radio Times
“Scenes of almost equal complexity abound in With Six You Get Eggroll. They’re mostly concerned with Doris Day’s virtue. Does she or doesn’t she? One night Brian Keith comes over and they sip champagne in front of the fire, turn on the hi-fi, dance, cuddle, smile, fall in love, and then Doris opens her front door and Brian Keith walks out into the pouring rain, which has filled up his convertible. Doris lets Brian stand there in the rain for a long time, but finally she walks out into the rain and takes his hand, and – there’s a fade out. Did she invite him to come back into the house, or didn’t she? The next scene is ambiguous: It may or may not be the morning after. Well, I say it is, but Doris Day fans will say it isn’t.
Otherwise, With Six You Get Eggroll is a pleasant enough comedy, some good moments, some dull ones, more or less routine. The story involves Doris as a widow with three sons and Brian Keith as a widower with a daughter. They fall in love, the kids fight, and the whole movie is about how the kids get to like each other while their parents arrive at a mutual understanding.” – Roger Ebert
Brian Keith was the son of Robert Keith who played Doris’ father in Young At Heart and also appeared as Barney in Love Me or Leave Me. Barbara Lampson, Doris’ hairdresser on With Six You Get Eggroll, reported that Doris had more hairstyles in this film than in any of her others. It was Doris’ Idea for these changes – she also had 37 costume changes in this film.
“On Valentine’s Day 1968, before the film was finished, there was a CBS Films ‘Love-In Luncheon’ for Doris Day. it was the last public appearance for Doris and Martin Melcher as a couple. Melcher, suffering from an enlarged heart that he’d refused to have treated because of his Christian Science beliefs, went into hospital on April 13,1968 and died on April 20 at the age of 52. With Six You Get Eggroll was released in August 1968. it was Doris’ last film.”
– Johnny, The Doris Day Forum