“As Dad always said, ‘A man who can’t be bribed can’t be trusted.'”
An advertising executive (Doris Day) is furious to learn that her womanizing rival (Rock Hudson) has snagged a key account using unethical bribes. When she learns that a (fictional) new product known as “VIP” is being created by Dr. Linus Tyler (Jack Kruschen), she is determined to win the account; things get complicated, however, when she’s mistakenly led to believe that Hudson himself is “Dr. Tyler”, and the two start falling in love.
Made directly to capitalize on the success of Doris Day and Rock Hudson’s first teaming together (Pillow Talk, 1959), Lover Come Back offers more of the same: the story’s specifics have changed, but the essential dynamic of mistaken identities and unexpected romance remains intact. It received glorious reviews from the New York Times upon its release, with Bosley Crowther calling it “one of the brightest, most delightful satiric comedies since It Happened One Night“; and though it doesn’t quite hold up as a classic today, it remains innocuously good fun. Modern-day audiences won’t be able to resist giggling over virile, closeted Hudson mouthing lines like, “I find him very intriguing — in a man-to-man sort of way,” and there are plenty of other racy double entendres sprinkled liberally throughout:
Day (as Carol): Leonard, who has a lilac floor in their kitchen?
Chet Stratton (as Leonard): I have.
Day (as Carol): Oh. Well, Leonard, everyone isn’t as artistic as you are.
The film’s unrealistic denouement — with events wrapping up far too neatly — detracts somewhat from the story’s overall integrity (such as it is), but Lover Come Back offers enough enjoyment to recommend sitting through once, and is certainly a must for any fans of Day and Hudson.
P.S. The third and final Day/Hudson romantic comedy — Send Me No Flowers (1964) — isn’t listed in Peary’s book.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Doris Day as Carol Templeton
- Rock Hudson as Jerry Webster
- Doris Day’s outrageous hats
- Tony Randall as Pete Ramsey
- Fine use of split-screen camerawork
- Vibrant Technicolor sets
- A clever screenplay with plenty of witty dialogue and double entendres: “You look wonderful without your clothes!”
No, but it’s recommended.