Tony Randall

Pillow Talk (1959)

Pillow Talk 1959

Decorator Jan Morrow (Doris Day) has a pretty good life. She’s got a good career, a nice apartment in New York, a perpetually-hungover housekeeper named Alma (Thelma Ritter). Two things she doesn’t have are a husband and her own phone line. Jan is forced to share a party line with playboy songwriter Brad Allen (Rock Hudson) and she can never get her calls through because Brad is constantly on the phone serenading his many female admirers. Anytime Jan complains, Brad just dismisses her as jealous of his active love life.

Fed up with the situation, Jan tries to get the phone company to give her her own phone line, but to no avail. Neither of them can stand the other, but that all changes one night when Brad goes out to a nightclub where Jan also happens to be. He recognizes her voice and when he sees how beautiful she is, he would love to introduce himself. But he knows that if she knew who he really was, she’d want nothing to do with him. So he creates the persona of Rex, an rich Texan rancher. Jan falls head over heels for Rex, but things get even more complicated when it turns out that Brad’s friend Jonathan (Tony Randall) is one of Jan’s clients and has been trying his hardest to win Jan’s heart.

Pillow Talk is simply one of the greatest comedies ever made. It’s the kind of movie that, if I’m having a bad day, I can always put that movie in and it will never fail to make me smile. Romantic comedies and lighthearted entertainment in general tend to never get the credit they deserve because people often mistake lightheartedness doesn’t take any talent. Pillow Talk may be fluff, but it is quality fluff in every way. Doris Day and Rock Hudson are both on top of their games. If you’ve never seen any of their other movies, you can watch Pillow Talk and understand exactly why they were such a celebrated on-screen duo. Not only are the leads fantastic, the supporting cast is equally great. Thelma Ritter and Tony Randall are so amazing. The writing is clever and the direction is sharp. The only way you can’t win with this movie is if you don’t like romantic comedies because Pillow Talk is romantic comedy at its finest; a complete and total delight.

What’s on TCM: July 2013

Paul Henreid CasablancaHappy July, everyone!  It looks like July is going to be a somewhat quiet month on TCM, but that’s okay with me since I know Summer Under the Stars is already right around the corner.  This month, we have Paul Henreid as the TCM Star of the Month and you’ll be able to catch his movies every Tuesday night in July.

I’m pretty excited for July’s round of Friday Night Spotlight, which will be focused on the films of French director Francois Truffaut.  If you’ve never seen a Truffaut film or haven’t seen very many of them, this is a perfect opportunity to see more of his work.

This month will also feature Carson on TCM, a series of classic Tonight Show interviews by Johnny Carson, which I’m sure is going to be very fun.

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Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? (1957)

When advertising writer Rockwell P. Hunter (Tony Randall) finds his job on the line, he has one last chance to win over his agency’s biggest client, Stay-Put Lipstick.  When he sees actress Rita Marlowe (Jayne Mansfield) on television, he has a stroke of genius.  Rita is known for her “oh-so-kissable lips,” so having her endorse Stay-Put Lipstick would surely be a huge success.  The folks at Stay-Put Lipstick agree, so Rock sets out to get Rita to agree to endorse Stay-Put.

Luckily for Rock, Rita just happens to be in town trying to forget about her boyfriend Bobo (Mickey Hargitay).  She agrees to endorse Stay-Put, but only if Rock pretends to be her new boyfriend to make Bobo jealous.  Rock goes along with it, but nothing could prepare him for what happens next.  Bobo does, indeed, get jealous.  So jealous that he talks to the press about how Rita’s been running around with an ad exec named Rock Hunter, or as she calls him, “Lover Doll.”  Before he knows it, he’s all over the newspapers and Rita’s fans are clamoring to get a piece of him.  Rita gets a lot of great publicity out of it, but it isn’t all bad for Rock, either.  Not only does the whole world think he’s the greatest lover to ever walk the earth, he finally starts getting the recognition at work he’s wanted so badly.  But once he finds success, he isn’t sure if he really wants it.

One person not happy with this situation is Rock’s fiancée Jenny (Betsy Drake), who doesn’t believe Rock’s repeated assurances that he loves her, not Rita.  Desperate to not lose him, she begins trying to make herself more like Rita.  Meanwhile, Rita begins to actually fall for Rock and wants him to really be her boyfriend.  But her secretary Violet (Joan Blondell) knows her better than she knows herself and can see that she’s really just looking for a man to replace her one true love, George Schmidlap.

I can sum up Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? in two words: absolutely hilarious.  What Bombshell is to Jean Harlow, Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? is to Jayne Mansfield.  It bears very little resemblance to the stage play, but it does stand well on its own.  The first time I saw it, I wasn’t even planning to watch it at the time, but I happened to catch the first few minutes and it looked like so much fun that I didn’t want to turn it off.  Everyone’s performances were very entertaining, but Tony Randall was particularly hilarious.  Even though it’s a satire on television and advertising in the 1950s, a lot of the jokes have held up surprisingly well over time.  It’s just great fun.  And wait until you see who plays George Schmidlap!

The Mating Game (1959)

Pop Larkin (Paul Douglas) isn’t a big believer in using cash.  Instead, he prefers to trade for the things that he needs for his farm and for his family.  Most of the community is totally okay with this, but when his neighbor Wendell Burnshaw gets fed up with it, he wants to take legal action to get the Larkins off their land and out of his hair.  He talks to a lawyer who starts investigating the Larkins’ tax history and finds that they have never filed a tax return.  Of course, the IRS starts investigating and they send Lorenzo Charlton (Tony Randall) to the Larkins’ farm to figure out how much the farm is worth and whether or not they owe anything.

At first, Lorenzo is greeted by a warm reception from Pop, Ma (Una Merkel), their feisty daughter Mariette (Debbie Reynolds), and their other children Lee, Grant, Victoria, and Susan.  There’s even a mutual attraction between Lorenzo and Mariette, but Lorenzo tries to focus on his work the best he can.  After talking to Pop, Lorenzo finds out that they have no financial records and that the Larkins’ tradition of trading dates back to the Civil War when the government stiffed some of his ancestors for some horses.  The only thing Lorenzo can do is go around and try to estimate the value of everything they have, which Mariette gladly offers to help him with.  Despite his all-business attitude, Lorenzo can’t help but secretly be distracted by the farm’s laid-back attitude and Mariette’s charm.  A quick call to his boss gets him focused again, but Ma and Pop have noticed that Mariette likes Lorenzo and scheme to make him stay longer.  Grant and Lee are pretty mechanically inclined, so they mess with Lorenzo’s car and at dinner, Pop gives him a drink.  It turns out it was a really good drink, too, because before Lorenzo knows what hit him, he’s dancing all around the house.  When his boss calls and discovers that Lorenzo is drunk, he’s ordered to go to a motel.  But with his car out-of-order, oh darn, he has to stay at the Larkins’ place.

They put Lorenzo in Mariette’s room for the night and Mariette slept in the living room.  When Lorenzo wakes up the next morning, he wakes up with the wrong impression and Mariette is insulted that he would think such a thing.  But when she calms down again, she helps him look for a document proving how much the farm was worth when it was inherited.  In the process, she finds proof that the government stiffed her family all those years ago.  Eventually any animosity fades between the two and they kiss.  But just then, a few of Mariette’s boyfriends happen to walk in and find them together and they get into a huge fight with Lorenzo.  And to top it all off, Lorenzo’s boss stops by to see how it’s coming.  Of course, Lorenzo’s boss insists on taking over and Lorenzo goes back to the city.  When Lorenzo’s boss get through with his evaluation, he declares the Larkins owe $50,000.  If Pop can’t pay it, he’ll lose the farm.  Livid, Mariette races into the city and finds Lorenzo to ask his advice.  He suggests trying to get the government to pay up for the horses, but that process could take forever.  However, Lorenzo helps Mariette find a way to push her claim through faster than normal.  They find out that with interest, the government owes the Larkins about fourteen million dollars!  When they get back to the farm and tell everyone the news, Pop doesn’t want to take the money.  He feels he hasn’t earned it, but says the government can keep the money to pay off the past taxes and for any future taxes, as well.

The Mating Game was absolutely delightful.  Leave it to Debbie Reynolds and Tony Randall to make problems with the IRS look like a good time!  Debbie Reynolds’ energy was completely off the charts here.  I don’t know how one person can have that much energy, but Debbie somehow managed to do it!  If you want something purely light, frothy, and totally inoffensive, this is a good one to go with.