Lover Come Back (1961)

“As Dad always said, ‘A man who can’t be bribed can’t be trusted.'”

Synopsis:
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.

Genres:

Review:
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!”

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended.

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One Response to “Lover Come Back (1961)”

  1. A must – and perhaps the best of the three films Day and Hudson made together. (‘Send Me No Flowers’, though not included by Peary, is also fun. I mean, c’mon, it also has Paul Lynde!)

    Eras prior were certainly no strangers to the sex farce – but it took this example of the climax (if you will) to earlier…entries…to allow bold commentary on what was filmed before. As witness:

    Day (when her boss compares Hudson to ‘the common cold’): …There are two ways to handle a cold – you can fight it, or give in and go to bed with it. I intend to fight it!

    Or this showdown:

    Hudson: If the competition’s too tough, get out of the advertising profession.
    Day: You aren’t even in the advertising profession. And, if I weren’t a lady, I’d tell you what profession you are in.
    Hudson: Tell me anyway.
    Day: Well, let me put it this way: I don’t use sex to land an account.
    Hudson: When do you use it?
    Day: I don’t.
    Hudson: My condolences to your husband.
    Day: I’m not married.
    Hudson: That figures.

    This whole film is delightfully and playfully sex-drenched. A particular fave moment occurs when Hudson (posing to deceive) is at the beach with Day (provocative in itself):

    Hudson (commenting on Day’s real enemy): You know, it’s a funny thing about you two – you claim he’s over-sexed and he claims you’re–

    When Day looks at him to continue, he simply puts his hand over his mouth.

    Some of the less-obvious, non-verbal jokes also work well. As note the one in which the posing Hudson tells Day that, if he were like the real Hudson character, he would easily have her in the bedroom in two minutes. At this point, the clock says 10:30. Two minutes later, when Hudson has in fact managed to ‘innocently’ lead Day into the bedroom, we get a shot of the clock at 10:32.

    Truth be told about Day’s character, she’s much too smart to fall for ANY of the all-too-apparent crap Hudson is dishing out. Still, he is a dish, so…

    Best visual gag has to be at the aquarium. It’s another day of Day being duped, and she stands with Hudson in front of a tank of fish. As Day says the following –

    A woman instinctively senses when a man can be trusted – and you, doctor, can be trusted.

    – a large fish swallows a smaller one whole. And, I believe, burps.

    The two stars are clearly having a ball throughout – and no one has ever been better than Day at comedic indignation. “OOooo!!!”

    A special nod to Day’s secretary Ann. B. Davis.

    cf: the Day/Hudson homage ‘Down With Love’ (2003). These two films would do well on a bill.

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