Boy meets girl. Boy loses girl. Boy gets thoroughly plastered with Thelma Ritter. Now that third part . . .

Hardly a family secret is my lifelong obsession with (and ability to recite) I Love Lucy. A true peach of a friend bought me the complete series on DVD a few years back, but I don’t have the heart to tell relatives such things when they call to let me know of an upcoming marathon. As a kid I had my Lucy lines down cold, fully prepared for any “How does that line go?” emergency that could come up at any moment . . . any moment! Through the years I packed over six seasons of scripts into that child brain of mine, so I never thought to ask for clarification on the lines I didn’t understand. I’m fairly confident that my “Rosebud” will turn out to be “Circle 7-2099,” but hopefully those around me will think it something highly mysterious and wonderfully inexplicable. It certainly was to me, until I learned that it was nothing more than Lucy and Ricky’s phone number.

Setting the scene for Rock Hudson and Doris Day’s Pillow Talk are the days before everyone had personal landlines, and the seeds of Apple were years from being scattered throughout the iWorld. In their first of three movies together, Mr. Hudson and Miss Day share a party phone line — our handsome Hudson plays the “party” half of the duo as a bachelor who clogs up the line with his turnstilesque dating life. Dainty Day is the cranky second party who needs the phone for business calls. She gets snippy; he likes it . . . very few surprises to give away in this one, but I must say that in the luminous color of 1959 film, together they are a quite pretty picture.

We’re all entitled to our opinions, yes, but if I came across a friend who did not enjoy Thelma Ritter, I fear I may stop acquaintanceship. As Alma, Doris Day’s boozy housekeeper, Miss Ritter is far more entertaining to me than the gorgeous main characters. When she first enters the movie by pouring herself off an elevator, she barks at the poor elevator man, “Must you zoom up so fast? What are ya, jet-propelled or something?” Stumbling into the apartment, Alma fixes herself a drink, takes off her hat, and readjusts the ice pack that’s been keeping her steady all morning. Priceless, that one. When we finally make it to the “boy loses girl” part of the formula, Rock Hudson decides to pump Alma for information and advice on how win back his irresistible Doris Day. He invites Alma for a drink, and her fabricated hesitation lasts for a mere second or two . . . “I might have one just to be sociable.” The scene that follows is the strongest selling point I have for this film; maybe she doesn’t exactly drink him under the table, but he definitely collapses on top of it.

Perhaps you could do better, but this is a good one for a sunny Sunday afternoon, preferably with a sociable mimosa or two.

Academy Award for Pillow Talk (1960):
Best Writing, Story and Screenplay (written directly for the screen)

Add it to your queue.

  1. M. says:

    And I certainly wouldn’t want you to stop your acquaintance with me. I LOVE Alma’s character, but I what I really love is when my dad sings along to Doris Day’s “Pillow Talk” during the opening credits!


  2. OLD FILM FAN says:

    Aaah – some things were good about the good old days, including just plain entertainment, no violence, no graphic anything, just silly diversions and fun – one of the great things about the oldies that I love and never get tired of watching!! Nice job as always!


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