After watching Rock Hudson make a complete goon of himself in Giant, I felt compelled to give him another chance. I was advised that he’s cute in light comedies of the Doris Day variety, so when I spotted Lover Come Back, I took it straight home. I’ll admit it. He’s cute. And Doris Day is cute, and together they’re like cuteness on a stick. Throw in a neurotic Tony Randall and the ever-faithful Ann B. Davis, and you’ve got yourself one heck of a cast. Oh, the movie’s pretty feeble, but it’s got so much Cute Power that I can hardly complain.
It’s hard to keep a straight face as Doris warbles “lover, lover, lover come back” over the opening credits, but it sets the stage for all the silliness that follows. Doris and Rock play New York advertising executives Carol Templeton and Jerry Webster. They frequently wind up competing for accounts, and this just frosts Carol, because Jerry will go to some pretty sleazy means to close a deal. He’s sort of the advertising world’s version of Hugh Hefner, and Carol’s a good girl who works hard and plays by the rules.
Carol thinks she’s got it made when she finally convinces Rebel Davis (one of Jerry’s frequent accomplices) to testify about his practices, but she’s foiled again when Jerry tells Rebel that he’ll make her the new VIP girl. Wait a minute, what’s VIP? Nobody knows, but apparently it’s a new product that will change your life. Carol’s not about to let Jerry get away with this, so she sets out to win the VIP account for herself. This, of course, is where the fun begins.
VIP doesn’t actually exist, but it has already generated so much buzz that Jerry has to come up with something. He hires Dr. Linus Tyler to invent a product, and Carol runs into him when she goes to visit the good doctor. Having never seen the evil Jerry Webster in person, she mistakes him for Dr. Tyler, and Jerry takes full advantage of the situation. He listens eagerly as Carol goes on and on and on about the evil Jerry Webster. I think she actually talks about him for the rest of the day, but “Dr. Tyler” takes it all in with good humor. He has this “aw shucks, golly gee” quality that is just too cute for words.
Rock Hudson is pretty darn adorable as Linus, a sheltered academic with little life experience. He needs someone to look out for him and teach him the ways of the world, and Carol happily rises to the occasion. She teaches him how to dance, how to frolic on the sand, how to kiss, and she almost teaches him something else before she figures out she’s been fraternizing with her nemesis. Sigh. Things were going so well, it’s a shame they can’t be together… or can they?
I wasn’t overly impressed by lover, lover, Lover Come Back, but I find myself wanting to return to the saccharine sweet world of Doris Day and Rock Hudson. There’s something comforting about the simplicity of it all, and it takes me back to the wholesome Doris Day movies I loved watching as a kid. Who can resist a place where everything goes wrong and makes no sense, but everyone still winds up smiling in the end?