May 14, 2019
On Blu-ray: Doris Day and Rod Taylor in The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
I wrote this review days before the legendary Doris Day passed on. It is in a way a tribute to her charm and talent, because every word I've ever written about her has been a tribute. She was the living embodiment of sunshine and so phenomenally talented.
Produced in the last decade of Doris Day’s prolific career, the cheerfully chaotic The Glass Bottom Boat (1966) has the not unpleasant feeling of being crafted from a reliable formula. It’s got a jaunty DeVol score, boisterous direction from Frank Tashlin, who was born to work with Day, and a cast full of actors who tend to go with one note and do it very well. This light-hearted romantic comedy with spy intrigue is now available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive.
Day is the widowed daughter of a glass bottom boat tour operator (Arthur Godfrey). She helps her Pop entertain his customers by dressing up as a mermaid and swimming underneath them. One day a NASA scientist (Rod Taylor) snags her tail with his fishing pole and rips it off, leaving her bottomless. She’s furious, until she realizes he’s her new boss at the laboratory where she does public relations. She also likes the looks of him.
A misunderstanding leads Day’s employers to suspect she works as a spy for Russia. She’s more indignant that they assume she’s dishonest than afraid of any trouble she might face. With still more miscommunication to follow, she takes revenge for their mistrust in her.
This was one of two films Day made with the profoundly underrated Taylor (they made Do Not Disturb together the year before). Though Rock Hudson was her best screen match, you could never imagine them hitting the sack the way you can her and Taylor. Of all her leading men, she’s got the most heat with him.
That said there’s a charming feeling of camaraderie between Day and Taylor. For the most part the film is comically turbulent, but there’s a quieter scene where Day sings songs with her Pop, his girlfriend and Taylor where they all appear to genuinely be having fun together. Here Taylor seems especially delighted and full of admiration for his costar and he's not alone. She lights up any setting, and here all involved seemed delighted to bask in her glory.
Paul Lynde, Dom DeLuise, and Alice Pearce are among the reliable supporting cast. It’s full of actors like these who knew precisely how to plug their personas into any situation. There are few surprises, but everyone is working to a high standard.
The Glass Bottom Boat succeeds where a lot of spy spoofs fail, because it relies more on the quirks of its cast than genre jokes for laughs. It’s a real mood lifter and a great moment for Day and Taylor.
Many thanks to Warner Archive for providing a copy of the film for review. To order, visit The Warner Archive Collection.