Has this ever happened to anyone else my age? You have a favorite movie from, oh, let’s say, 1959, a little ahead of your time, but it’s still fun. You’ve seen it lots of times and you understand that the character, Brad Allen, is a real dirt bag, but you also understand that the power of love will redeem him eventually…and for good. In the meantime, it’s plenty of yucks, misunderstandings, and very archaic notions of propriety as Doris Day, who plays the lovely, modern (remember, it’s 1959, about two years before the birth control pill was approved for general use), yet very correct, Jan Marrow. Their onscreen chemistry is brilliant, just like Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton in “Something’s Gotta Give”. But that’s another entry.
One doesn’t bat an eye, when, near the end of the film, Brad Allen is carrying Jan Marrow through the streets of 1959 New York City in her pajamas and an electric blanket that she had wrapped around herself for decorum’s sake. Brad carries her past a policeman, and she yells “Help! I’m being abducted!” The policeman nods to Brad Allen and asks him how is his day. Brad answers the cop by his first name and you nod “Ahhh. He knows him.” And it’s funny. It was one of my favorite movies.
Move forward in time by about 55 years, a sexual revolution and an epidemic of political correctness and all that entails later, and for some reason, I don’t know why since I’m such a Doris Day fan, I watch it for the first time with my daughter. I saw the film through her eyes, with her current understanding of relationships and political correctness and everything changed. The character Brad Allen was a stalker, a psychopathic liar, and needed to have psychiatric help and was not a likeable character. The policemen would have stopped the pair in the street or he would have been fired, disgraced and any number of punishments and Tony Randall’s character, Jonathan Forbes, was the only slightly normal male depicted. The part of Alma, played so deftly by Thelma Ritter, would have received some kind of AA treatment or would have been fired. Who wants a drunken housemaid who, most likely, has access to your liquor and probably knows where you stash your folding money?
There was a lot more she pointed out while we watched, and the joy of sharing this gem from the past deflated with each pointed observation, that, really, wrecked it for me. I know she meant well and we were bonding, but I wish I hadn’t shown this to her. I still like it, but it’s kind of like going back to your old elementary school after quite a few years, you see that it’s changed a little, but you realize how small those swings are, and notice that the water fountains are so low that you’d have to bend your knees and back at such a steep angle just to get a sip. Everything’s there, it’s still the same old haunt, but you’ve changed.