“My Dad always said, ‘A man who can’t be bribed can’t be trusted.’ Isn’t it comforting to know that you can trust me, ladies & gentlemen?”
Delbert Mann’s Lover Come Back stars Doris Day & Rock Hudson. It was the middle of three movies the pair made together. The first was Michael Gordon’s Pillow Talk two years earlier, which won the Best Original Screenplay Oscar; and their final collaboration, the brilliant Norman Jewison’s Send Me No Flowers followed it three years later. The late, great Tony Randall (Felix Unger of TV’s The Odd Couple) co-starred in all three. Stanley Shapiro & Paul Henning were nominated for Best Original Screenplay for Lover Come Back in 1962 at the 34th Academy Awards, losing, in a good decision by The Academy, to the legendary William Inge for Splendor in the Grass.
Lover Come Back is the quintessential romantic comedy. Neither Jerry Webster nor Carol Templeton, Madison Avenue advertising executives for different companies, ever intends to fall in love with the other. They don’t like each other much, especially Carol. She thinks Jerry is crude & selfish & manipulative. She’s right!! There’s the standard mistaken identity that’s seems to be part of most romantic comedies of the era, but Mann’s technique is for Jerry to pretend to be Nobel Prize Winning Chemist Dr. Linus Tyler in order to seduce Carol & plagiarise her marketing ideas. Dr. Tyler, played marvelously by Jack Kruschen, is an old friend of Jerry’s whom he needs to invent Vip, a product that doesn’t exist but for which his firm has been selling a lot of advertising.
When Lover Come Back was released in 1961, television was becoming incredibly popular in middle class America, similar to the smart phone craze today. The cast of the movie reads like a who’s who of 60’s TV shows. Besides Tony Randall & Doris who had her own show, watch for: Ann B. Davis – the Brady Bunch’s maid Alice, Joe Flynn – Captain Binghamton on McHale’s Navy, and Donna Douglas – Elly May on The Beverly Hillbillies. And even Ted Bessell, Donald on That Girl, makes an appearance as an elevator operator.
As in any good romantic comedy, love triumphs – despite Jerry’s deception & theft of Carol’s intellectual property. Lover Come Back is a cute & joyous movie rarely matched in the genre today. It’s a bit anachronistic, as you’ll see in the sweet morality of the end scene, which seems out of place now given our knowledge of Rock Hudson’s homosexuality & untimely death due to AIDS. Delbert Mann’s Lover Come Back is a really cute, family fun film. Rent it & enjoy with your spouse & adolescent kids. They’ll think you’re a VIP.