Sunday, October 4, 2015

No Tigers in London

Turns out Doris Day wasn't always perky.

Despite not waking up till 10:15, I made it to the Bowtie in time for today's Movie and Mimosas feature, "Midnight Lace." I'd never even heard of it, much less of Doris as the terrified heroine of a thriller.

As is getting to be the new norm for the M & M screenings, the film started late and there were multiple glitches ("This operation is currently prohibited for this disc" messages on the big screen), music playing once the movie did start playing, that kind of unprofessional nonsense.

I've seen my share of Doris' romantic comedies, so I knew to expect a fabulous wardrobe, with scads of hats and gloves and fur. What I didn't anticipate was that it took all the way until the second scene before we saw Doris with a muff, a record I'll bet for her.

No joke, no one wore muffs as often in the movies as Doris did, and not those fake fur muffs you see occasionally now (Pru had one with a zipped pocket for her lipstick), but honest-to-god hand warmers made out of former live animals.

Maybe that's what set Doris off on her life's work advocating for animals: guilt.

I'm not sure Doris' forte was drama (she gasps pretty much constantly and cries almost as much) but part of the problem may have been the cheesy script with practically everyone being shown as a possible suspected stalker.

This bad man threatens her in London's dense fog and then begins a series of phone calls spewing what Doris calls filth (it's apparently too filthy for the audience to hear or Doris to share with her husband), promising that she'll be killed by the end of the month.

Good old Aunt Bea, played by the effervescent Myrna Loy, refers to him as "one of those telephone talkers with a kink" before recounting a story about getting a call while she was in Ireland from a man who wanted to personally dress her in black underwear.

"It was the most stimulating minute and a half I spent in Ireland," she joked. You can always count on Myrna Loy to bring the saucy humor. God knows Doris can't.

Her most risqué move is buying a pair of black evening pajamas called "midnight lace." Poor thing, she's only been married three months and her workaholic husband, Rex Harrison, has yet to take her on a honeymoon. When he finally makes plans for them to visit Venice, she goes right out and buys herself that midnight lace ensemble, which gets worn, not in Venice, but in the final scene where gunshots are fired and the stalker revealed.

Aunt Bea, by the way, had shown up with ten (yes, ten) pieces of red luggage (including a leather hat box) an indulgence unimaginable in this era of limited baggage and over-weight fees.

Alcohol ran through every minute of the film, whether it was Doris needing a brandy at the corner pub after being trapped in an elevator, or husband Rex saying, "I'm going to make one for the road."

Because the movie took place in London, scenes were full of men in perfectly-belted trench coats and there were several references to WWII and the bombing of the city. I guess it had only been 15 years before when this movie was made in 1960.

I immediately recognized the actor who played the inspector at Scotland Yard because he was the same one who'd played the inspector in another, better-crafted thriller set in London, "Dial "M" for Murder," made six years earlier and with a much cleverer script plus the luminous Grace Kelly.

And unfortunately, you, Miss Day, are no Grace Kelly. And all the muffs at Universal Studios weren't going to make you one.

Some people just need to stick to perky.


  1. not really a good movie, but I kinda thought Doris was a little bit hot in her midnight a sort of contrived, middle class way, [at least when I first saw this flick, in my much younger days]. if you had asked I really wouldn't have recommended this one for you. It kept trying to led up to something that really wasn't much of anything. Honestly she did better with Rock anyway. Still I like Rex's attitude, "yes, let's have one more for the road." Don't hear that much anymore.


  2. You're right, cw, she did look hot in that outfit! Come on, it was basically a unitard with a cropped lace top over it, a perfect vehicle for her gorgeous body (which, in my opinion, always far surpassed her face).

  3. Myrna Loy was gorgeous even then and the best part of that film.