Sunday, April 3, 2016
If you would get off the line, then I could get some reviews through.
This is a difficult film to talk about, since it's the Ur-example of the romantic comedy. Because of that, it's overloaded with the cliches of the genre – the couple that starts out on a misunderstanding, the playboy who falls in love with the good girl, the faked identity, the other possible love interest, the discovery of the secret identity, the wacky plan to reunite that of course works after a big blow-up fight where everything is forgiven when “love” or “marriage” is mentioned.... well, they needed the rubric to come from somewhere, and here it is. The basic plot is bound to be confusing for younger viewers, since we've never had to deal with party lines, but the premise is that a party line is shared by a busy interior decorator and a Lothario songwriter. She has to pick up the phone to bawl him out for blocking all her calls while he seduces women over the phone, and he quickly grows to loathe her just as much as she loathes him. Until he discovers that she looks like Doris Day. And then she discovers that he looks like Rock Hudson. Only he has adopted the persona of a sweet, unassuming Texan to get past her defenses and into her very chic white dresses. And when she discovers that her sweet Texan is really her “sex maniac” phone hog neighbor, she gets furious and vows to never speak to him again. So he hires her to redecorate his apartment, which she does... in the most hideously tacky way imaginable. Which of course leads to a big confrontation and then talk of marriage, and they fall into each other's arms and love and babies ever after.
So... yeah. Trope codifier for one of my least favorite genres. There are a few laughs, because the cast is absolutely excellent. But I found a lot of this movie kind of eh. The cast is good, the jokes aren't bad, and I probably would have laughed a lot harder if I had seen this in the 60's. But as hard as I try not to watch movies from a presentist point of view, I can't help it to some degree. I can't help that I've already seen this movie a dozen times, even if this is a superior example of the product. I also can't help that I generally don't like this kind of movie. I saw it first when I was about 10, and most of the risque jokes flew over my head. I also didn't really realize about the running gag of Rock Hudson's character ducking into an obstetrician's office and the lady's room, but that was because I needed glasses at the time and hadn't gotten them yet. I also didn't understand the “Make her seduce him by suggesting he might be gay”, which was a common trope in that era, but would be considered horrifyingly homophobic now. Apparently there was a subculture of men pretending to be gay in the 50's and 60's so that women would try to “fix” them, so maybe remember that little bit of cultural oddity when talking to an older person about gay issues of today. This was a thing. And it is really weird.
I guess this is a decent flick if it's the type of thing you like. It's cute and well-acted, and the hideous apartment decoration at the end does have to be seen to be believed. But if you're not a romantic comedy fan, you shouldn't feel any qualms missing this one.