Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Romance on the Silver Screen: That Touch of Mink

My second in a series of posts on classic romantic films focuses on That Touch of Mink, starring Doris Day and Cary Grant. I'm a huge fan of both of these actors. Cary Grant could do anything: comedy, romantic leading man, drama, intrigue, or villainy. Doris Day is often thought of as an attractive blonde foil for Rock Hudson, but she is a very underrated comedic actress, as this film proves.
The plot is reminiscent of many a historical romance novel. Doris Day is the plucky country girl from Upper Sandusky, Michigan, who has moved to New York to make it big. As she's headed to a big job interview, Cary Grant's limo drives by and thoughtlessly splashes mud on her dress. Grant, a millionaire, sends his disapproving assistant, Gig Young, back to offer her money for dry cleaning. 
Incensed that he didn't stop at the time, Day refuses the money and demands a personal apology. Intrigued, Grant offers one and charms her off of her feet. Their romance kindles, but there is only one problem: Day is a perpetual virgin holding out for marriage, Grant is a dedicated womanizing bachelor. Day considers becoming his mistress; Grant wonders if he should be offering carte blanche to such a sweet country girl. Eventually, out of guilt, Grant withdraws his offer, infuriating Day's character. To make him jealous and prove that she is no unsophisticated rustic, she plans a seedy assignation with a Lothario played hilariously by John Astin (best known as the patriarch of the original "Addams Family"). Grant discovers her intention and rushes to stop her before it's too late.
The plot may not seem like much, but the script sparkles and the performers, including Audrey Meadows as Day's roommate, are hilarious.  Here's a taste. This exchange between Doris Day and Cary Grant is one of my favorite passages of dialog in any movie. (Source: Grant has promised to call Day and get her answer about whether she will become his mistress. Guilt-stricken, he doesn't call. She becomes offended that he considers her too unsophiscated to make her own decision:

Day: I can see you don't know the girls in Upper Sandusky.  They're always prepared.
Grant: I'm sure they are.
Day: We're not unsophisticated rustics.
Grant: I'm not attacking you culturally. I'm sure you have fine libraries and museums.
Day: We also have a home for girls. We may not be as large as New York but we're just as progressive. Last year we  had a scandal at the country club...
Grant: I'm sure it's a zippy little community.
Day: Things are hoppin' up there!

Isn't that great? I'm always a fan of witty banter, and this film has some of the best.
So what do you all think? Any suggestions for the next post in this series? I'm taking requests!


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