I seem to have a thing for English men with a strong profile, dark hair, 6’2” (or 6’3″). I’ve always loved Cary Grant, so suave and debonair, and yet with a sense of humour. And then there’s Richard Armitage … well, put him in a suit and have him engage in some banter and there you go!
Doris Day is someone I can always count on for a pick-me-up when I’m feeling down. That sunny smile somehow makes everything better. I even like her singing, including the iconic Que Sera Sera. I just read that Doris Day turned 95 this month!
1962’s That Touch of Mink is a wonderful old movie combining the suave Cary Grant and the sunny Doris Day – a perfect combination. It’s really funny and also romantic, as you would expect with those two. The premise is a bit more risqué than most of either actor’s earlier movies, perhaps because it was the start of the “swinging sixties” and also because neither was young at that point, with Day being 38 and Grant being 58. (Funny how years ago when I first watched it he seemed so much older than me!)
Doris Day plays Cathy Timberlake, a small town girl with strict morals, who is constantly unemployed because all of her bosses hit on her (unsuccessfully). In fact, also hitting on her is Everett Beasley, the unemployment officer played to brilliant slimy perfection by John Astin (a couple of years before The Adams Family). Cathy’s best friend and roommate, Connie Emerson, is played by Audrey Meadows, with that same sassy deadpan delivery that she was famous for as Alice Kramden (opposite Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners).
Cary Grant’s Philip Shayne is an older successful business man, who is used to getting whatever he wants, including women. His financial advisor, Roger, is played hilariously by Gig Young. Roger is another one of the things that Philip Shayne wanted — he lured him away from a successful academic career and continues to torture him with payment of a higher and higher salary. Roger is constantly in therapy, trying to become strong enough to break away and go back to academia.
Roger is excited that Shayne will finally get what he deserves from an outraged Cathy, after a splash from Shayne’s car ruins her coat. Instead, when Cathy meets Shayne, she is completely bowled over by him. The tension and much of the humour of the movie comes from Shayne initially only wanting to win Cathy as his mistress with lavish gifts including “that touch of mink”. Cathy, meanwhile, is torn between her love for him and the lifestyle he can offer, and the dictates of her conscience. And of course, as a romance, the movie follows the tried-and-true formula of boy (older man?) gets girl, boy loses girl, boy tries to get girl back.
This movie boasts cameo appearances by three New York Yankees of the day — Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Yogi Berra — as well as a young Dick Sargent before Bewitched. And there is some cool “technology” from the times — the computer machines that Cathy runs and the automat, which is like a live action version of a vending machine (i.e. people work behind the coin-operated doors putting the food in). Some of the humour would be out of place today, but most of it still gets a laugh even while being very much of the times.
That Touch of Mink was nominated for three academy awards, including best screenplay. It is a movie that I can watch again and again and always count on to put a smile on my face.