Gather around the soda fountain, folks. Movies Silently is having a Classic Movie Ice Cream Social, where: “All you need to do is review a movie that has a sunny plot or has the power to cheer you up when you’re feeling down.” Well, never has a movie come more immediately to mind than my contribution to this blogathon:
Yeah…it’s /\ THAT /\ big. When I need to be cheered up from Life’s doldrums, my immediate remedy is “SEND ME NO FLOWERS.” It is an immediate pick-me-up for whatever ails me, and can be for you as well. I’ve got what the doctor ordered. I first saw this movie back in 1964 when my family went to the Whitestone Drive-In in the Bronx. Ever since, when I was down in the dumps from some pain in the neck supervisor ( I’m retired now ) or pain in the heart relationship ( that I probably engineered! ) “Send Me No Flowers” is my go-to film.
The main ingredient is simply…DORIS DAY. From “Romance On the High Seas” to “Calamity Jane” to “Tea for Two” she is pure sunshine. Her pep and perkiness is not meant to annoy you ( you heartless reader you! ) Her screen persona is warm and friendly and open you’d have to be a hard-hearted Hannah to resist. Now this is not to say Day is not a complex woman or couldn’t play complex parts. I thought she exhibited that well in “Love Me or Leave Me” or “Julie” as women trying to navigate within an abusive relationship. She’s a triple / quadruple threat. She could sing, dance, do comedy or drama. I’m not only in thinking she should have won an Oscar before now, probably punished because she made things look easy. I’m not alone and it’s not too late to award her an honorary Oscar. My friend Aurora of Once Upon A Screen makes a great case for honoring Doris Day if you check it out here.
ROCK HUDSON shines nicely in “Send Me No Flowers.” Tall, dark and devastatingly handsome, he was IT in the 1950’s. His looks probably blinded folks to what a good actor he was while they were enamored with the mumbling, tortured performances of Brando-Clift and Dean. Hudson’s a strong romantic lead. And he doesn’t mind looking a little foolish…being caught being kissed by a new divorcee ( Patricia Barry )…or being slapped and getting dosed with a hot water bottle or a pail full of pills and medication. He doesn’t even mind standing next to the mountainous 6’6” Clint Walker. << Sigh! >> Rock Hudson wears comedy very well.
The plot? A hypochondriac ( Hudson ) mistakenly believes he’s got just a few months to live. So he tries to find a new husband for his wife ( Day ). This is a great plot, excellently constructed and executed. If it were set in the 30’s it could star Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Even looking at it with 21st century eyes the movie doesn’t feel dated. Mistaken circumstances lead everyone down the garden path. Hudson’s best friend and neighbor is played by Tony Randall.
He has to write a eulogy for his “dying” pal, while drinking and doing all of Hudson’s chores. Randall is great comic relief to the situation and the necessary third wheel to keep this trilogy intact. ( “Pillow Talk” and “Lover Come Back” are the first two films of Day and Hudson. ) Randall’s a perfect foil to that great team. In “…Flowers” Randall tags along on the hunt for a husband and is moral support for Hudson.
Bright primary colors, the horizontal transition flip between scenes and the Sturm und Drang of those piano chords when Hudson’s illness is mentioned all lend itself to the general fun of things. The subsidiary characters are funny: Ernie ~ the gossiping Milkman, Winston Burr ~ the roaming Casanova Cad, the dry delivery of the Family Doctor ~ Dr. Morrissey, and the inimitable Paul Lynde as the Funeral Director. I’m also loving the switch off at a moment’s notice of Hudson throughout this movie, where he gets to be the straight man to the funny men and the funny man to Doris’ straight man.
Here are some of the moments I simply wait for:
Doris’ sexy raspy laugh when she teases Rock:
“Remember when you thought you had bonechips in your shoulder?!”
“When he says he’s gonna die and he doesn’t die! Didn’t he think I’d get suspicious!!”
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When Tony says:
“It’s not anything that will affect property values?”
( #CODEWORDS )
“What woods, George?”
“Every chance I get I’m going to feel a tree. Oooh, it’s so
“COMPLAINTS! COMPLAINTS! Nothing but complaints! I could do some complaining, too, you know. You ever cut your toenails??!!”
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Winnie Burr ( Hal March ) doing his oft-repeated pickup line for new divorcees. And later getting socked in the jaw when he makes a move on Day.
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ALL of Paul Lynde’s scenes. I literally recall back in ’64 being astounded when he mentions the year 1980. That seemed a Jetsons-lifetime away for a little kid like me. I chuckle at how he slips and slides when Doris has to throw him out of her house. “Don’t be a stranger,” he ends with. Oh, Paul.
* * * * * * * * *
Rock and Doris cuddling in bed reminiscing about how they met. Cozy, comfortable, familiar, amorously romantic. Marriage, right? ( Hey, don’t burst my bubble, will ya! )
The plot all connects in not just an easy predictable way, but in the way of perfectly woven fabric by director Norman Jewison. Tight, yet loose. These pros have been at the rodeo before. They know what to do and how to shade it. The country club, the suburbia, my twisted nostalgia for a world I probably wouldn’t have been allowed to be a part of in 1964, the camaraderie of marriage, its mistaken betrayal and that wrong-headed confession:
( “DOLORES YELLOWSTONE?!!” )…the chemistry between Rock Hudson and Doris Day that makes my heart soar and yearn and makes me smile from ear-to-ea no matter what I’m going through.
Uh-boy, looks like I have to pull out that movie right now.
Alright alright…let me be fair. There are MORE suggestions of happy feel good movies in Movies Silently’s blogathon. Just click this banner below and read till your doldrums go away: