Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tonight's Movie: Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)

PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES is a fun family film starring the very charming Doris Day and David Niven. 

 Larry Mackay (Niven) is newly promoted to being the theater critic for a major New York newspaper. Simultaneously Larry, his wife Kate (Day), their four rambunctious boys, and their neurotic dog trade their overcrowded city apartment for a ramshackle house in the country. Larry and Kate cope with various minor crises, including remodeling their house, Larry's possibly growing ego, and a flamboyant actress (Janis Paige) who has designs on Larry, but all's well that ends well. 

Day and Niven have excellent chemistry as Larry and Kate. Their calmly bemused reactions to their boys' antics are fun; at times Niven's Larry almost seems admiring of his sons' ability to create chaos. 

They are supported by a sterling cast including Spring Byington, Patsy Kelly, Richard Haydn, and Margaret Lindsay. Byington, in her last feature film, plays Kate's mother; Kelly is the housekeeper; Haydn is a producer friend who is the boys' godfather; and Lindsay, in her next-to-last film, is a snooty party hostess. Richard Haydn's most famous role was still a few years ahead: Uncle Max in THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965).

The children in the film include Charles Herbert, who was very good in 1958's HOUSEBOAT with Cary Grant and Sophia Loren, and Stanley Livingston of MY THREE SONS.

There is an interesting connection between Paige and Day, as Paige originated the role of Babe in Broadway's PAJAMA GAME, but she was not asked to repeat the role for the screen along with her costar John Raitt. The role of Babe in the 1957 film version was played by...Doris Day. 

Fans of Day's romantic comedies will enjoy another fun bit of trivia: one of the funnier lines comes when Day's character hollers in exasperation that she's been having a rendezvous with Rock Hudson!

The movie was based on the book by Jean Kerr, wife of drama critic Walter Kerr. I believe I first encountered this book, along with many others, in my junior high school library; I was familiar with the Kerrs long before I read DAISIES, however, as the Kerrs were the neighbors in one of my childhood favorites, KAREN: A TRUE STORY TOLD BY HER MOTHER by Marie Killilea.

PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES runs 112 minutes. It was directed by the underrated Charles Walters, who had a great knack for turning out consistently entertaining movies, starting with his first feature-length film in 1947, GOOD NEWS, and including EASTER PARADE (1948), SUMMER STOCK (1950), LILI (1952), THE GLASS SLIPPER (1955), THE TENDER TRAP (1955), and HIGH SOCIETY (1956). I shared an anecdote about the opportunity I had to meet Mr. Walters in my review of THE BELLE OF NEW YORK (1952).

This movie has been released in pan-and-scan format on VHS. It's also had a very nice widescreen DVD release which is available as a single title release or as part of the 8-film Doris Day Collection. (Update: This film will be reissued on DVD by the Warner Archive in January 2021.) 

PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES can be seen on Turner Classic Movies, which has the trailer available here. TCM also has a nice set of production photos available on their site.


Blogger Irene said...

Thanks for the reminder of a really fun movie. It also reminds me of the TV series in the mid 1960's which I enjoyed as a teen. My library has the DVD :)

10:36 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad they have it, Irene! It's quite enjoyable viewing. :)

Best wishes,

10:41 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Gosh, I loved this movie. Their country house was just perfect. I always thought it would be really fun to have a family in a big old rambling house like it.

The contrast between Doris Day and David Niven was a bit jarring at first but really worked. Nivens seemed so out of place as the actor and as the father of the boys, but again, he was really an ideal if not unexpected choice.

6:21 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I definitely have big old country house envy, Dana! (grin)

Best wishes,

6:27 PM  

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