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Monday, 9 July 2012

Classic Film Review: Do Not Disturb (1965)

This is apparently one of the films that Doris Day didn't want to make but found herself contractually obliged by then-husband and manager, Marty Melcher. That gives Do Not Disturb a slight tint to it even before you start watching but, certainly, it's not a Day classic by any stretch of the imagination.

Day stars as Janet Harper alongside Rod Taylor as her husband, Mike. The pair have just moved to London so that Mike can run a failing woollen company. Janet wants to live in the country and rents them a house, owned by the stately Vanessa Courtwright (Hermione Baddeley). When Vanessa sees Mike in a restaurant with his secretary, Claire (Maura McGiveney), when he's supposed to be having dinner with his wife, she relates the tale to Janet and advises that she do something to make Mike jealous. Janet refuses but Vanessa begins to send cards and presents from a mystery lover and an unfortunate mistake with antique dealer, Paul Bellari (Sergio Fantoni), complicates matters further. Soon it certainly looks like Janet's having an affair - and she's still not so sure about Mike and Claire either.

As you can tell, the plot's a little convoluted. The film does feel a little all over the place, with constant cuts between what's going on with Janet and what's going on with Mike. The leading man and lady spend remarkably little time together, which was fine for me because I didn't really see any chemistry between them. They felt like sparring partners rather than a loved-up husband and wife. Day, despite her objections to the film, played the part as best she could. There were some memorable scenes - mostly occurring alongside either Baddeley or Fantoni - and a few laughs but very little truly comic material. The scene in a Paris pub where Janet gets drunk, ends up leaving and making conversation with a horse is rather funny. Equally, the scene where she rescues a fox from hunters is mildly amusing but there is an inexplicable goat called Wellington hanging around the house as well. Mike asked what the goat was doing in the house and, to be fair, I'd like to know too!

There are several flaws with this film but it still remains a reasonable Doris Day comedy if you're at a loose end. Don't expect something in the vein of That Touch of Mink (1962) or Pillow Talk (1959) but it's got some good moments peppered about. Watch out for Doris Day kicking a football around for starters.

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