Doris Day - 6 - soap

DORIS DAY

If you ‘re looking for a way to do homage to Doris Day, who died today, I recommend The Thrill of It All, which she made in 1963. I’m not a fan of this genre, but this movie has been a favorite of ours since it appeared in theaters the year before we were married. The story is about Beverly Boyer, a perky wife and mother-of-two, who stumbles into a career as the spokesperson for a soap manufacturer.

Doris Day 10 - Garner - NBC

JAMES GARNER/NBC Universal

The fact that the principal product in this tale was called Happy Soap, will give you an idea of the tone of the movie. Beverly—played by Day, of course—makes a big salary from television commercials and becomes a celebrity, but the demands on her time play havoc with her marriage to Dr. Gerald Boyer, an obstetrician played by James Garner. And although I’m not crazy about slapstick, the scene in which Garner drives a Chevy convertible into a swimming pool tickles me every time I see it.

Doris Day - 11- Carl Reiner

CARL REINER

I have read that Carl Reiner, the comedy genius who wrote this screenplay with another genius, Larry Gelbart, had wanted Judy Holliday in the female lead, but Holliday became ill with what proved to be terminal cancer. I have also read that Ross Hunter, one of the producers, wanted to invite Nelson Eddy and Jeanette McDonald to return to the screen in supporting roles, but they do not appear in the film.

Doris Day - 5 - Edward Andrews

EDWARD ANDREWS

As it turns out, the cast that did appear in this film was golden. The players included Arlene Francis, who was 56 at the time, as a patient of Garner’s character—a woman who is delighted to find herself pregnant well past the standard age for such an enterprise. Her equally delighted but frantic husband is played by Edward Andrews. I presume these were the roles Hunter had envisioned for Eddy and McDonald, but, with all due respect to those classic actors, no one could have played the parts for more laughs than did Francis and Andrews. In a scene in which the expectant couple gets stuck in city traffic when the birth is imminent, gives Andrews a chance to give the comic performance of his life.

The company also includes Reginald Owen, ZaSu Pitts, and Elliot Reid, and Reiner himself in some cameos.

Doris Day - 1I don’t know if most of the news reports of Doris Day’s death will adequately express the magnitude of her fame as a singer and movie actress. She was publicly recognized for that in many ways, including the Presidential Medial of Freedom. She was also a philanthropist with a particular interest in animal welfare.

A more jaded generation might dismiss The Thrill of It All for what it was, fluff, but it was designed as nothing more than entertainment, and it has entertained us again and again, and we have already planned to watch it again so that we can renew our appreciation for Doris Day. I know the feeling will quickly be dispelled, but we’ll give in to the fantasy once again and, when the Boyers have resolved their crisis, we’ll actually believe just briefly, that, no matter what we heard on that last newscast, everything will be all right.

 

 

RACHEL McADAMS

RACHEL McADAMS

We watched “The Notebook,” a 2004 film based on a Nicholas Sparks novel. The film stars Rachel McAdams, Ryan Gosling, James Garner and Gena Rowlands, and is directed by Rowlands’ son, Nick Cassavetes. The premise is that an elderly man (Garner) living in a nursing home regularly reads to a fellow resident (Rowlands) from a romantic story handwritten in a notebook. Flashbacks that make up the bulk of the movie tell the same story, a romance that began in 1940 in Seabrook, South Carolina, between teenagers Noah Calhoun (Gosling) and Allie Hamilton (McAdams). It becomes clear almost immediately that Garner and Rowlands are the older manifestations of Noah and Allie, and that the older Allie – suffering from dementia – is absorbed in the story but seldom remembers who she and Noah are or that this is the story of their own relationship.

 

RYAN GOSLING

RYAN GOSLING

This movie is well cast, well performed, and beautifully filmed and directed. Gosling and McAdams could not be more appealing as the quirky lumber yard worker and the vibrant young socialite. Garner and Rowlands are credible and moving as the aged couple. The only reservation I had was that I couldn’t connect Noah as played by Gosling with Noah as played by Garner. The two men are so dissimilar that it is difficult to make that leap and accept them as the same person. I thought it was particularly ill-advised at a certain point in the film to flash a montage of black-and-white photos of the young Jim Garner, who was nothing at all like Ryan Gosling. Still, the movie as a whole is absorbing and entertaining and avoids the mawkishness into which such a story could easily descend.