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Tue May 1, 2012

DVD Picks: 'Pillow Talk'

Originally published on Wed May 9, 2012 9:44 am

Time for another home-viewing recommendation from film critic Bob Mondello. This week, Bob's listening in on Rock Hudson and Doris Day as they make a bit of Pillow Talk.

What happens when the Girl Next Door meets Mr. Beefcake? It's instant chemistry, albeit of the explosive sort — think Mentos and Diet Coke.

Though they've never met (they share a telephone party line) interior decorator Doris Day is convinced that songwriter Rock Hudson is a womanizing cad (not untrue). He's sure she's a prig (close enough). And as this is a romantic comedy, ever the twain shall meet when Hudson pretends to be someone else.

The Hollywood Production Code was still in effect when Pillow Talk was produced, so they couldn't "get a room," as it were, but in the Oscar-nominated screenplay they could certainly talk about it. Early on, when Day complains about Hudson to the phone company, he tells her to stop taking her bedroom problems out on him. She shoots back that nothing in her bedroom bothers her.

"Oh, that's too bad," quips Hudson.

Racy stuff for 1959.

This was the first of three Day/Hudson rom-coms (they also made Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers), all with Tony Randall as the odd man out. Here, they're backed up by Thelma Ritter as a smart-aleck maid and Nick Adams (years before he starred in The Rebel on TV) as a collegiate lush.

The Blu-ray package includes 46 pages of photos, posters and script excerpts to go with on-disc extras that are mostly routine — a trailer, a restoration documentary, and a remarkably inept commentary track that rarely matches up with what's actually happening on screen.

While one commentator mentions a scene that's gone past, he's talking over another gem of a scene of in which Hudson tries to convince Day that his alter-ego in the movie sounds a little ... gay.

"There are some men who just are very devoted to their mothers," Hudson says, "you know, the type that likes to collect cooking recipes, exchange bits of gossip ... "

Now considering Hudson was a closeted gay actor, wouldn't you think that bit of dialogue would be worth not talking over? You'd really be better off doing your own commentary, perhaps cooing over the mid-century fashions and decor — a gold, pink and gray kitchen, for instance, that no doubt inspired millions of renovations — and split-screen tricks and star chemistry that belong to a very specific moment in time, when even the title Pillow Talk struck people as vaguely salacious.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Time now for another home video recommendation from film critic Bob Mondello. This week, he's listening in on Rock Hudson and Doris Day as they make a bit of "Pillow Talk."

BOB MONDELLO: The Girl Next Door meets Mr. Beefcake, and what do you know? Instant chemistry.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, PILLOW TALK)

ROCK HUDSON: (as Brad Allen - Rex Stetson) Look, I don't know what's bothering but don't take your bedroom problems out on me.

DORIS DAY: (as Jan Morrow) I have no bedroom problems. There's nothing in my bedroom that bothers me.

HUDSON: (as Brad Allen - Rex Stetson) Oh, that's too bad.

MONDELLO: Racy stuff for 1959. This was the first of three Doris Day/Rock Hudson comedies, the one where they share a telephone party line getting on each others nerves without ever meeting, then falling in love when he pretends to be someone else. Tony Randall is the odd man out and Thelma Ritter, the smart-aleck maid.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, PILLOW TALK)

DAY: (as Jan Morrow) What am I missing?

THELMA RITTER: (as Alma) When you have to ask, believe me, you're missing it.

MONDELLO: The Blu-ray package includes 46 pages of photos, posters and script excerpts, to go with on-disc extras that are mostly routine - a trailer, a restoration documentary, and a remarkably inept commentary track with film historians that rarely matches up with what's actually happening on screen.

(SOUNDBITE OF DVD COMMENTARY)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I want to reference one scene that's just past 'cause I think it's worth mentioning, where in order to...

MONDELLO: While he's mentioning that scene that's gone past, he's talking over this scene of Rock Hudson trying to convince Doris Day that his alter-ego in the movie sounds a little gay.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, PILLOW TALK)

HUDSON: (as Brad Allen - Rex Stetson) Well, there are some men who just - they're very devoted to their mothers. You know the type that likes to collect cooking recipes or exchange bits of gossip?

DAY: (as Jan Morrow) Oh, what a vicious thing to say.

MONDELLO: Now, considering Hudson was a closeted gay actor, wouldn't you think that bit of dialogue would be worth not talking over? You'd really be better off doing your own commentary, cooing over the mid-century fashions and decor - a gold, pink and gray kitchen, for instance, that no doubt inspired millions of renovations - and split-screen tricks and star chemistry that belonged to a very specific moment in time, when even the title "Pillow Talk" struck people as vaguely salacious.

I'm Bob Mondello.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "PILLOW TALK")

DAY: (Singing) Pillow talk. Pillow talk, another night I hear myself talk - talk, talk, talk. Wonder how it would be to have someone to pillow talk with me. I wonder how. I wonder who. Pillow talk. Pillow talk... Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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