After the great popular and critical response to Rock Hudson
's and Doris Day
's Pillow Talk
, (including an Oscar
nomination for Ms. Day) most entertainment pundit
s predicted that the flirtatious
pair couldn't make a follow-up that would be as well received. They were wrong.
Made in 1961, Lover Come Back was yet another rehashing of the old tale of how two people who don't get along at first wind up falling in love and living happily ever after. However, the fantastic chemistry between Hudson and Day, combined with a great supporting cast (including the ineffable Tony Randall) make the move sparkle.
Directed by Delbert Mann, the movie tells the story of Jerry Webster (Hudson) and Carol Templeton (Day), two advertising executives who work for rival agencies on Madison Avenue. Webster, who has a reputation for fast and loose dealing to get accounts, is a well-known party animal and lady's man. Templeton is a straight shooter who detests Webster and all he represents. Fighting for an account, Day's character proposes new ideas and designs for the product while Hudson's wines and dines the client while smothering him in women. (I think we can all guess who wins the account.)
Templeton believes she has found revenge in Rebel Davis (played by Edie Adams), a sometime-girlfriend of Webster's, who tells her of a product called VIP that Hudson is developing an ad campaign for. In reality, the product is fictional. A campaign is created by Hudson and is unwittingly aired by his boss, Peter Ramsey (Tony Randall), publicizing the imaginary item. The campaign is vague enough that the actual nature of VIP is unclear.
Meanwhile, Webster scrambles to obtain something, anything that he can present as VIP to demonstrate that it really exists. He contacts an inventor, Dr. Linus Tyler, and hires him to create a product he can use. Templeton contacts Tyler, thinking that he is the inventor of VIP (which he is, just that it hasn't been invented yet) and tries to persuade him to give the account for the product to her agency. However, the Tyler she meets is actually Hudson (the two had never met in person up to that point.) In a "Nutty Professor"-style character contrast, "Tyler" woos Templeton, playing the shy-guy role to the hilt. He manages to get her into the bedroom, but a fortuitous phone call "saves" Day at the last minute, and she finds out the identity scam. Furious, she leaves and calls a meeting with the Ad Council to get to the bottom of the situation.
Desperate, Webster rushes to the real Dr. Tyler (played by Jack Kruschen) to pick up the newly-created VIP, which is revealed as a kind of candy. Hudson's character rushes out with the product before Dr. Tyler can explain exactly what it is to him, and empties a box of it on the conference table at the council meeting. Everybody digs in, complimenting Hudson on the nice candy.
What Webster didn't know about the product was that it looks and tastes like candy, but is metabolized in the body as pure alcohol (a little fictional science that creates the humorous twist needed.) Of course, this means that everyone at the meeting gets completely hammered. Day and Hudson wake up the next morning in bed together, having gotten married the night before. You can imagine the chaos when Day realizes what happened. She gets an annulment and refuses to see Webster again.
(obligatory spoiler alert)
One aspect of the marriage couldn't be annulled, and comes to a head (pardon the pun) nine months later. The story ends with a scene that has appeared in many movies, Webster and Templeton getting married while she is being wheeled into the delivery room.
There is another film called Lover Come Back
, a B/W romantic comedy made in 1946 and reissued (probably to avoid confusion with the above movie) as When Lovers Meet
. In it, Lucille Ball
plays a wife who gets even with her cheating husband.