There’s something about a Doris Day romantic comedy. They’re sparkly, glossy and delightful. If a Doris Day movie was a drink, it would be a flute of champagne overflowing with bubbles.
These “sex comedies” were made right before the 60s sexual revolution in America, so while there are some clever double entendres and suggestive scenarios, the movies are relatively tame. Day starred in a few marital or domestic comedies, but her most popular romantic films usually involved a charming womanizer wanting to bed the wholesome girl next door who was waiting until marriage to have sex.
But if the sexual politics in these storylines fell out of favor by the late 1960s, why would the romantic comedies interest today’s viewers?
Bottom line: these movies are all about the tropes. Romance readers will recognize many of the themes, character archetypes and plot devices in these comedies. There’s the battle of the sexes, the bet, the big misunderstanding, enemies to lovers, the good girl versus the bad boy, the meet cute and mistaken identities, just to name a few.
Romance readers will also appreciate Day’s heroines. They are independent, feisty, and determined. In The Guardian’s obituary for Doris Day, it was pointed out that “of her film persona in the 60s, the critics Jane Clarke and Diana Simmonds wrote that Day “confronts the male and forces him to modify his attitudes and behaviour. Moreover, saying no to manipulative sexual situations is not the same as clinging to one’s virginity.” The clashing of wills, the heroine holding onto her values, and the impact she has on the hero are found in every romance novel.
With the beautiful costumes, rich romantic fantasy, and zany situations, Doris Day’s bedroom comedies are perfect when searching for light entertainment. If you need a pick-me-up, try Pillow Talk (1959) starring Rock Hudson. It’s the best known, but Day also teamed up with him in Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964). Romance readers would also enjoy That Touch of Mink (1962) starring Cary Grant and Move Over, Darling (1963) with James Garner.
Once you’ve watched a few Doris Day romantic comedies, try Down With Love (2003) starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor. The Rotten Tomatoes website describes the movie as “a post-modern sex comedy set in the early 1960s centering upon a love affair between a best-selling advice author and a hotshot journalist/playboy.” This tongue-in-cheek homage to the bedroom comedies used most of the beloved tropes and then gave them an updated twist.