pillow talk poster
The New York Times
October 7, 1959

The Screen: ‘Pillow Talk’


A NICE, old-fashioned device of the theatre, the telephone party line, serves as a quaint convenience to bring together Rock Hudson and Doris Day in what must be cheerfully acknowledged one of the most lively and up-to-date comedy-romances of the year. “Pillow Talk” is the item, and it was dually presented last night at the Palace and the new Murray Hill Theatre, 160 East Thirty-fourth Street.

“Bring together” may be slightly ambiguous and misleading to describe the precise liaison that the telephone accomplishes here, for the first result of the two principals’ sharing the same line is a cool and remote antipathy. Miss Day as a fashionable interior decorator and Mr. Hudson as a successful song writer in New York initially insult each other as unidentified voices at either end of their party line.

Particularly, Miss Day hates Mr. Hudson because every time she picks up her phone she hears him burbling the same corny love song to an amazing variety of cooing girls. And he hates her because her angry interruptions convey an image of an envious old maid.

But once the romantic song writer gets a secret peek at Miss Day and realizes how wrong is his impression, the “bringing together” begins, and the telephone and Mr. Hudson’s impersonation of an ardent Texan are combined to “push the romance from there.

It is really the clever, witty screen play that Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin have prepared from a story by Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene that accounts for much of the sparkle in this film. Their devices are crisp, their dialogue funny and their cinema mechanics are neat. Frequent clever use of a split screen make for fresh and appropriate drolleries. With a CinemaScope screen to play on, they and director Michael Gordon have much fun.

And this fun is transmitted to the audience in an easy and generous flow of ingeniously graphic situations and nimble repartee. The opportunity for the tricky song writer to court the lady through a wicked pretense of being a high-minded Texan is in Mr. Hudson’s groove, and he carries off the delicate deception with surprising dexterity.

“You give me a real warm feeling,” he softly drawls to Miss Day. “like a potbellied stove on a frosty morning.”

What girl could resist that line?

Well, certainly not the young lady played fiercely and smartly by Miss Day, who has a delightful way of taking the romantic offensive against a man. Her dudgeons are as chic and spectacular as her nifty Jean Louis clothes, and her fall for Mr. Hudson’s deceptions is as graceful as a ski-run down a hill. Singing is kept to a minimum, but Miss Day does cut loose a couple of times, very pleasantly, as usual. Perry Blackwell also sings two bistro songs.

In support of Miss Day and Mr. Hudson are Thelma Ritter as an alcoholic maid and Tony Randall as a disappointed suitor, than whom no others could be more droll. Nick Adams as a wolfish Harvard senior almost steals one sequence from Miss Day, and Marcel Dallio, Allen Jenkins and Lee Patrick are fun in a couple of scenes.

Color and some likeable music brighten this pretty film, which has a splendid montage of New York in it. Thank Universal for the boon.


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  1. June 6, 2013

    Got a copy of this somewhere.Must dig it out.Have not seen one of those Doris Day/Rock Hudson movies in years.Recall very squeaky clean.My how the world has changed.Maybe this was even seen as a bit risque at the time with its title.

    Only a few years later one Mr Jim Morrison was to shout out in a song that he wanted to have sex with his Mother.Ok so this was the late fifties,but this film was still doing the rounds in the sixties.Mr Morrison may even have watched it.No wonder really that the so called alternative culture shocked.Why they could not even spell America/Amerika properly.

    Must go now as there is a White Rabbit knocking at my door and I think he wants something.

  2. Heather in Arles
    June 6, 2013

    Well, Ms. Vickie, I had a good day today and yet watching that bit of Pillow Talk made it…that and skipping along with the root-a-toot consonants of Mr. Crowther’s review. Lovely. Makes me want to read what David Denby is up to over at The New Yorker…so off I go…

      • George Kaplan
        June 6, 2013

        Ah, m’amselle, you have a Genius of Taste and Discernment, as great coincidence would have it another Genius Woman introduced me to that selfsame review by Mr Denby of what seems a fairly grotesque adaptation of one of my favourite novels, the initials of that Genius? V. L.!
        I really enjoyed Mr Denby’s unfussy skewering of “Baz’s” film.
        There’s a fantastic volume on decades of American Film Criticism that I’ll havevto free from its exile so I may remember the titlevand recommend to Vickie and you. Have a fine day, regards, Mr K!

      • June 7, 2013

        The phrase, “perfectly scathing”, comes to mind.

    • June 7, 2013

      Heather, it’s one of my favorite movies. And, yours is one of my favorite blogs — but I apologize, because I can’t figure out how to comment there. Any suggestions?

      • Heather in Arles
        June 7, 2013

        Vickie, really? Well, that made me just thrilled up to the tip of my hat to know that you enjoy my blog, most certainly as yours is now and immediately became of the “how on earth was I surviving without this?” variety, something I cannot say of much else. You have made me remember a part of myself, an important part, that I tamped down upon moving to Yee Olde France. Thank you so much, truly.
        And as for the comments, yes, you are not the first WordPress-ee that has had difficulty saying hello. I don’t know why that is. Even though I am on Blogger (le sigh), I was still easily able to set up a Word Press account to comment correctly chez mes amies and so have no idea why it doesn’t work in the vice versa. Well, you know that I will always knock on your door here and if there is anything you wish to communicate via email my address is robinsonheather@yahoo.com.
        Merci encore et Bon Weekend!

  3. George Kaplan
    June 6, 2013

    The best thing about Pillow Talk (“PILLOOW TALK! PIL-LOW TA-ALK!” Ach, you’ve infiltrated my mind with that damn’ song!) is Tony Randall! Even tho’ his character’s a bit of a jerk he’s much less of one than hunk Rock’s but ol’ Roy’s character gets away with it because he’s a likeable prime slab of beef 😉 I always liked Tony (I liked his ironic persona and that great voice) and while Rock was okay I much prefered Jim Garner, apart from anything else he was Maverick and Rockford for God’s sake. Heh. Rambling… Ramble with me.
    There’s something subversive and telling about Ms Day being courted by two gay men… Imagine a Day/Hudson “sex comedy” directed by Douglas Sirk!

    • June 7, 2013

      Douglas Sirk directing a comedy — that would be subversive…
      As to Tony Randall, perfect!

    • June 7, 2013

      My favorite scene might just be Thelma Ritter drinking Rock Hudson under the table…

  4. June 6, 2013

    Completely agree with this review. I can’t get enough of this movie.

    Also, what girl could resist being compared to “a potbellied stove on a frosty morning”?

    • June 7, 2013

      It’s such a funny image…

  5. June 7, 2013

    like a (beat) pot (beat) bellied (beat) stove *lookstocamera* (almost)

    genius timing.

    • June 8, 2013

      Her reactions are perfect: euphoria and doubt – and then to herself, pure satisfaction.

      • June 8, 2013

        like the cat that got the cream.

      • June 8, 2013

        And, I see you have her portrait!

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