Monday, May 13, 2019

RIP To the Marvelous Doris Day

Day in Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
RIP to Doris Day, a wonderful singer, dancer and actress who was hipper than most knew: Groucho Marx once joked, "I'm so old I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin." Bob Hope's nickname for her was "jigglebutt." 

Day was too marvelous for words in films like Man with a Horn, The Pajama Game, and It Happened to Jane, where she fights for her rights in a small New England town. As part of her well marketed wholesome image, Day plays a character shocked by marijuana in Lover Come Back (1961), one of several films she made with Rock Hudson.

The rather convoluted plot goes something like this: 

Advertising executives Carol Templeton (Doris) and Jerry Webster (Rock) work for competing ad agencies. Angered by Jerry’s method of nabbing clients using alcohol and women, Carol brings his behavior up before the Advertising Council. But Jerry bribes Carol’s star witness by filming her in a TV commercial for an imaginary product named VIP. When the ads are accidentally broadcast, Jerry pays a scientist to invent something he can call VIP. Meanwhile, Carol goes after the VIP account and mistakes Jerry, whom she has never met, for the scientist. Rock goes along, pretending to be an inexperienced and marriageable academic instead of the rogue his character truly is, a ruse that was a good cover for Hudson’s homosexuality.

When Carol shows up at Webster’s apartment to confront him she is surprised when Jerry, who she thinks is the scientist, opens the door. Jerry feigns confusion, implying he was partying with the dastardly Webster the night before and his memory is fuzzy.

Rock: “I was dizzy after that cigarette he gave me.”

Doris: “Oh, that depraved monster! What kind of cigarette?”

Rock: “I don’t know. It didn’t have any printing on it.”

Carol drags Jerry to her apartment where he tells her he lacks the confidence to make love to her. She goes into the kitchen and sings, “Lover, Should I Surrender” before popping a champagne cork and nearly donning a negligee—just before discovering the ruse. Furious (yet still sweet, as only Doris Day could be) she once more brings a complaint to the Ad Council, this time involving the District Attorney as well.

Meanwhile, the true scientist has come up with a product worthy of the VIP name. He calls it, “A triumph of advanced biochemistry. Looks like candy, tastes like candy, and enters the bloodstream as pure alcohol. Each one of these is the equivalent of the triple martini. I’ve given this country what it has long needed: a good 10-cent drunk.”

Jerry shows up at his hearing with a box full of VIP, which the Ad Council stuffs themselves with. Hijinks ensue and he and Carol end up in bed with a marriage certificate neither remembers signing. Still furious, Doris shouts, “No alcoholic beverage, no drug known to science could induce me to stay married to you!” and storms out (pouting prettily). Representatives of the liquor industry then show up to bribe Jerry into burning the VIP formula by giving him a chunk of their $60 million advertising budget, which he gallantly gives to Carol. You can guess the happy ending. 

The drug-laden plot is similar to Bye Bye Birdie (1963) wherein biochemist/composer Albert F. Peterson (Dick Van Dyke) tries to make good in one or the other profession in order to marry his fiancĂ©e Rosie DeLeon (Janet Leigh). Just as he gets the Elvis-like Conrad Birdie to sing “One Last Kiss” on the Ed Sullivan show to Ann Margret, he hits upon the formula for a stimulant drug that truly makes him successful. 

For factual information on marijuana and amphetamines, see The History Channel’s Hooked: Illegal Drugs and How They Got that Way - Marijuana and Methamphetamine (2000). 

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