Pillow Talk, 1959, Universal International. Starring Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall. Directed by Michael Gordon. Technicolor, 102 minutes.
Jan Morrow (Doris Day), a proper and dignified interior designer, and Brad Allen (Rock Hudson), a womanizing songwriter, share both a telephone party line and and an antagonistic relationship. Both have frequent need of the phone line for their varying interests, and the two clash on a regular basis.
Jan complains to the phone company to no avail. Brad is fed up with her interference in his dalliances. Both take their grievances to the one person they unknowingly have in common, Jonathan Forbes (Tony Randall). He’s in love with Jan and best friends with Brad, although the two have never met, save for their feisty phone conversations.
One night Brad realizes the woman seated at a nearby table is his nemesis Jan, who’s warding off a handsy college boy. He suavely comes to her rescue, but hides his real identity, pretending instead to be rancher Rex Stetson. Jan soon finds herself falling for the humble gentleman she in finds Rex, and at the same time, discussing her new flame with Brad.
This was the first pairing of Day and Hudson, who went on to make two more films together, Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers. Both of those also featured Tony Randall, who was an integral part of the success of the films.
Pillow Talk won an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and was nominated for four others, including Best Actress (Day) and Best Supporting Actress (Thelma Ritter). It also received three Golden Globe nominations: Best Motion Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor (Randall).
Day later said in her autobiography, “I particularly liked [the script] because the humor came from situation and characterization rather than from jokes [making it] very sophisticated comedy. She also noted her immediate rapport with Hudson, saying “we played our scenes together as if we had once lived them.”
As innocent as the story is now, Pillow Talk was considered racy fare for films at that time. Some of the frisky behavior portrayed was offset by Jan’s chaste demeanor. Still, while audiences believed Day was playing a virgin, she did not think so. “I was a businesswoman. I don’t think I was a virgin. I went off to the country with him and I probably would have succumbed. Except I figured out he was a phony and ran away.”
Pillow Talk remains tremendously fun and charming, in part because of the script and perhaps more importantly because of Day’s and Hudson’s appealing performances. It is a film that has stood the test of time in hearty fashion.