Pillow Talk (1959)


Michael Gordon

In New York, the interior decorator Jan Morrow and the wolf composer Brad Allen share a party line, but Brad keeps it busy most of the time flirting with his girlfriends. They do not know each other but Jan hates Brads since she needs the telephone for her business and can not use it. Coincidently Jan’s wealthy client Jonathan Forbes that woos her is the best friend of Brad and he comments with him that he feels an unrequited love for Jan, who is a gorgeous woman. When Brad meets Jan by chance in a restaurant, he poses as a naive tourist from Texas named Rex Stetson and seduces her. But Jonathan hires a private eye to find who Rex Stetson is.

Pillow Talk is a 1959 Eastmancolor romantic comedy film in CinemaScope directed by Michael Gordon. It features Rock Hudson, Doris Day, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter and Nick Adams. The film was written by Russell Rouse, Maurice Richlin, Stanley Shapiro and Clarence Greene.


Predictable, but a delight.

20 August 2001 | by gridoonSee all my reviews

This first teaming of Doris Day and Rock Hudson is a delightful, visually beautiful comedy – old-fashioned but hardly dated. The two stars make a charming, shiny couple (it’s easy to see why they were so popular in their time) and Thelma Ritter steals the show in a needless but funny supporting role. The only problem you may have is that the course of the plot seems to be thoroughly predetermined from the first frame, but the film does a pretty good job of delaying the inevitable. Great sound effects, too. (***)

Ross Hunter wrote that after he made this film, no theatre managers wanted to book it. Popular movie themes at the time were war films, westerns, or spectacles. Hunter was told by the big movie chains that sophisticated comedies like “Pillow Talk” went out with William Powell. They also believed Doris Day and Rock Hudson were things of the past and had been overtaken by newer stars. Hunter persuaded Sol Schwartz, who owned the Palace Theatre in New York, to book the film for a two-week run, and it was a smash hit. The public had been starved for romantic comedy, and theatre owners who had previously turned down Ross Hunter now had to deal with him on HIS terms.


Bedroom Problems

Author: BumpyRide from TCM’s Basement
13 October 2004

Out of all the “Bedroom Comedies” of the 50’s & 60’s this is the best by far. Nothing else comes close to “Pillow Talk” with its witty script, stylish sets, and costumes and a great cast of “A” actors at their very best. Some movies wrap you up like a warm mink coat and make everything seem right in the world. 1950’s New York looks fabulous, and I’ve always wanted to go one of those chic supper clubs decked out like Doris is here. This is one of those rare movies that make you laugh, no matter how many times you’ve seen it. How sad it is for some reviewers to take fault with Alma and her apparent drinking problem (only to find love herself and throw away the bottle!) or Rock’s sexuality that some just can’t get past. This is an elegant romp with Doris and Rock.



Super! Super! Super!

Author: rbrb
6 December 2004

Well done Cinemax(cable TV channel) for showing this wonderful movie!

Surely this must rank amongst the top romantic comedies of all time.

Brilliant performances from the super stars Doris Day and Rock Hudson, with equally brilliant support from the likes of Tony Randell and Thelma Ritter.


This picture is so good it had me laughing out loud constantly.

Everything about this film is perfect: the script, the acting, the music, the story, the lighting, music, costumes, titles et al.

Why is it that most movies of this type nowadays ain’t a patch on this one?! And the movie industry should ask itself why it cannot find megastars as good as the cast in this picture.

The basic story line involves a shared phone line leading to deception and romance. The use of split screen portrayals is done marvelously. For example the two lovers talk romantically in separate bath-tubs in their different apartments the touching of each others feet is magically shown by the split screen.


One of my favorite scenes is where Rock Hudson in one of his deceptions, pretends he is gay, and of course later history reveals the irony of that.

I thought one of the best lines in the movie was when Thelma Ritter says in effect that one cannot tell a good bottle of wine from a mere sip.

All in all, top class entertainment:

10 out of 10.

great stuff from Doris

Author: didi-5 from United Kingdom
20 June 2004

This hugely enjoyable romantic comedy from the late 1950s teamed Doris Day with Rock Hudson and struck gold. They’d team for three films in all, but this is the best of them.


Doris Day plays an interior decorator who finds she’s sharing a telephone party line with a womanising songwriter (Hudson) – she finds him unbearable at the end of the phone, but there are definite sparks for the better when they meet for real. He goes about romancing her in the guise of a nice Southern boy and almost succeeds …

In support are the funny Thelma Ritter and Tony Randall, perfect foils for the glamorous leads. The film zips along with a large amount of charm, certainly helped by the colour and the snappy title song. There are numerous classic scenes to add to the fun but I won’t spoil yours until you’ve seen it. If you’ve never seen this, lucky you, you’ve got a treat to look forward to.


The wildest behind in New York City!

Author: moonspinner55 from las vegas, nv
22 May 2001

A party-line turns an interior decorator and a songwriting ladies’ man into enemies–that is, until he gets a look at her. When Doris Day is forced into a nightclub by a junior-suitor, she makes the best of it and does a shimmy on the dance-floor in a tight white dress–you can’t blame Rock Hudson (at a nearby table) nor the cameraman for zooming in on her derrière, which wiggles seductively and comically. This businesswoman is really a closeted gal-about-town, and Day gives one of her freshest, funniest performances here. I also liked the tinkly background score and the handful of songs (the title cut, “Roly Poly” and “Possess Me”), but apparently Doris didn’t. In her autobiography, she scathingly dismisses all the music from her ’60s bedroom comedies as “mediocre”, blaming her skinflint husband for bypassing top-rank composers like Henry Mancini for “a bunch of no-names”. Why Doris!!


Smart and Sassy

Author: Martin Bradley (MOscarbradley@aol.com) from Derry, Ireland
26 July 2005

This smart and sassy sex comedy was made in 1959 but it could just as easily have been made in 1939 and the roles played here by Doris Day and Rock Hudson could have been played by Irene Dunne and Cary Grant. Michael Gordon’s direction is serviceable at best but it has a likable Oscar-winning script by Russell Rouse, Maurice Richlin, Stanley Shapiro and Clarence Greene that makes the most of it’s premise of the mismatched couple who find romance in the most unlikely of farcial situations.


Day is starchy and frigid but Hudson is immensely likable and displays a real comic flair. There is a gay joke at the expense of the Hudson character and knowing what we know now we might well ask how much of an ‘in-joke’ this really was and just who was in on the joke. The film was a huge success and re-vitalized Day’s career in non-musical roles. Tony Randall’s character of the slightly effete millionaire who is in love with Day is not unlike David Hyde Pierce’s Niles in “Frasier” and you can see some of the best “Frasier” scripts in some of the situations here. Influential or what?


The film’s script was turned down and bought back by RKO a few times in the late 40’s and early 50’s until Martin Melcher (the husband of Doris Day at the time) and his Arwin Productions label bought the script and took it to Universal.According to Day in A.E. Hotchner’s autobiography, Doris Day: Her Own Story, the film was initially titled “Pillow Talk,” but the title displeased the Production Code Administration (PCA). Melcher tried to get co-producer Ross Hunter to change the name to Any Way The Wind Blows, the name of a song he was about to publish, but Hunter stuck with the original name. The original ending planned for the film was to have Jan, after using the trick switch to lock the door and then smiling at Brad, shut off the light and say “All apartments look alike in the dark.” This open-ending was changed in the final film to show that Jan and Brad got married and are now expecting a baby.



The film is noted for reinventing the screen images of Rock Hudson and, particularly, Doris Day. Hunter identified Day’s potential to be sexy, and recruited legendary costume designer Jean Louis, who designed 18 or 24 costumes for Day to wear. Hunter said to Day, “You are sexy, Doris, and it’s about time you dealt with it…if you allow me to get Jean Louis to do your clothes, I mean a really sensational wardrobe that will show off that wild fanny of yours, and get some wonderful makeup on you, and chic you up and get a great hairdo that lifts you, why, every secretary and every housewife will say, ‘Look at that-look what Doris has done to herself.


Maybe I can do the same thing’.” Day acknowledged that the film transformed her image from “the girl next door” to classy sex symbol, describing that the plot, for the time, was very sexy, involving a climatic scene in which the leading man carries her out of bed in her pajamas and out into the streets. In addition, Laykin et Cie loaned $500,000 worth of jewels for Day to wear.This is Hudson’s first comedy film, after a slew of dramas that he made throughout the 1950’s including All That Heaven Allows (1956) and A Farewell to Arms (1957). It was Hunter who saw Hudson’s potential to do comedy. The advice he received from director Michael Gordon was “Comedy is the most serious tragedy in the world. Play it that way and you can’t go wrong. If you ever think of yourself as funny, you haven’t got a chance.” On February 2, 1959, Thelma Ritter was cast as Alma, Jan’s housekeeper, while Lee Patrick was cast as Mrs. Walters the following month . Hope Emerson was recruited by Hunter to play an Indian princess called “Dessert Flower” in the film. She does not appear in the final cut. A cameo appearance by Day’s friend and actress Miriam Nelson occurs in the scene where Brad ducks into Dr. Maxwell’s (the obstetrician) office to avoid running into Jan. Nelson was given the walk-on part as a patient in the waiting room so she could have lunch with Day in the commissary.



According to Rock Hudson, the final scene, in which Brad storms into Jan’s apartment and yanks her out of bed, and carries her through the streets of Manhattan, back to his re-decorated apartment, was actually shot first. Due to back problems, Hudson carried Day on a shelf with her sheets and blankets over her to get through the many takes. According to Hudson, “I could have managed if only one take had been involved, but we went on endlessly, primarily because there was a bit actor who played a cop on the street, and as we passed him Doris’ line was “Officer, arrest this man,” and the cop was supposed to say to me, “How you doing, Brad?” but that stupid actor kept calling me Rock (01:39:36). So back to our marks we went for another take and another and another. I’ll bet we did that scene twenty times.


That’s why the shelf for Doris to sit on.” Also, Hudson related that when he pulled Doris Day out of bed, he forgot to let go of her ankles “…with the result that my leading lady crashed to the floor.” Doris Day and Rock Hudson got along and developed chemistry during filming and the cast and crew acted as if they were family. Hudson recalled that, as per a Modern Screen article, “they had to add a week on to the shooting schedule because we could not stop laughing…” Day clarified this during interviews she had with Merv Griffin on The Merv Griffin Show and Johnny Carson on The Tonight Show (1976), during her 1976 press tour to promote her new autobiography, Doris Day: Her Own Story, by A.E. Hotchner. “Every day on the set was a picnic – sometimes too much of a picnic, in that we took turns at breaking each other up.”According to an October 1959 Saturday Review article, Jean Louis designed twenty-four costumes for Doris Day and Laykin et Cie loaned the production $500,000 worth of jewels.  The film is notable for its usage of split-screens during which Jan and Brad/Rex have telephone conversations. Triple split-screens are featured at the beginning of the film when Brad is using the party line to flirt with Eileen and Yvette.

“You are my inspiration….Doris”

Author: babeth_jr from United States
3 April 2006

I can honestly say that this is my favorite movie of all time. It has everything a romantic comedy needs…a wonderful script, snappy dialog and of course, the wonderful performances by every single actor in the movie. Doris Day is dead on as Jan Morrow, a single interior decorator, living alone in New York City in the late 1950’s who has to share a party line on her telephone (which was not that unusual for that day and time, as hard as it is to believe now) with Brad Allen, played with smarmy brilliance by Rock Hudson. Tony Randall plays Jan’s friend and client, Jonathan, a neurotic millionaire who wants to be more than just friends with Doris, but can’t get to first base with her.


Pillow Talk (1959) Directed by Michael Gordon Shown from left: Doris Day, Rock Hudson

The delightful Thelma Ritter is perfectly cast as Alma, Day’s hard drinking but wise housekeeper. Doris can’t stand sharing her party line with the womanizing Brad Allen, but when Allen sees her at a night club and figures out who she is and that she will never have anything to do with him if she knows his true identity, he invents an alter ego for himself, Rex, the cowboy from Texas. The ensuing story just gets funnier and funnier, as Jonathan, (Tony Randall’s character) starts figuring out the deception, and romantic mayhem ensues. Doris Day never looked lovelier as she did in this film, and Rock never looked more handsome. It is ironic that he played such a blatant womanizer in this film, when of course, in real life he was a gay man. Although the film seems kind of dated now (at the time this film was made it was unusual for a woman to be single and successful) it is still tons of fun to watch. They just don’t make movies like this anymore. A definite 10 stars!



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