Classic, clean comedy around hypochondria
«Send me no flowers» is a 1964 American film about the misadventures caused by a simple misunderstanding of a hypochondriac.
- Directed by: Norman Jewison
- Produced by: Harry Keller / Martin Melcher
- Screenplay by: Julius J. Epstein, based on the 1960 play of the same name written by Norman Barasch and Carroll Moore
- Music by: Frank De Vol
- Distributed by: Universal Studios
- Release date: October 14, 1964
- Running time: 100 minutes
«Send me no flowers» would be the third and last time that Doris Day, Rock Hudson and Tony Randall would star together.
- Rock Hudson as George Kimball; a hypochondriac but otherwise well intentioned man; married to Judy; best friend to Arnold
- Doris Day as Judy Kimball (née Heppleway); married to George. A loving wife and housekeeper, long used to his husband’s hypocondria, she often hears rumors spread by the neighborhood milkman
- Tony Randall as Arnold Nash; friend of the Kimballs, loyal to the very end and incapable of processing bad news without some hard liquor
- Edward Andrews as Ralph Morrisey; George’s physician, eternally sorry for not being a specialist. Causes a misunderstanding
- Hal March as Winston Burr; bachelor friend of George; used to “console” women going through a divorce, trying to seduce them while emotionally vulnerable
- Clint Walker as Bert Power; oil baron and “high school sweetheart” to Judy; successful businessman, lousy dancer
(Part of the) Plot
George and Judy Kimball live peacefully despite George’s hypochondria. One morning, George communicates that he’s not feeling well and will get a check-up from his head physician, Dr. Morrisey. Later, the milkman shares with Judy the fact that the Bullards, their neighbors, are getting a divorce.
At the doctor’s office, George complains about having pain in the chest and Dr. Morrisey gives him some pills «to relieve the pain». George goes to the bathroom and Morrisey calls a cardiologist friend of his; discussing another, old patient whose results had just come back. George overhears the discussion, unaware that they are discussing another case entirely, and hears Morrisey distraught about having to give palliative care to a terminal patient.
George believes the worst and on the way back home tells his friend Arnold that he’s going to die, but will not tell his wife about it. Arnold solemnly offers all available help and accepts to deliver George’s eulogy.
George’s first plan of action is trying to help Judy become self-sufficient in financial matters, but gives up after a while. George meets Arnold who, having been drinking the whole afternoon after the bad news, drunkenly suggests that George should instead try to find Judy a suitable partner so that Judy may remarry and still have a happy and stable life.1
George and Arnold spend some time looking for suitable bachelors in a golf club, but all seem to have terrible personality flaws (dumb, cheats at golf…) This continues for a while, when suddenly Judy loses control of her cart going downhill. Fortunately, a man riding a horse catches up with her and saves her from an accident.
The heroic jockey turns out to be Burt Power, an old “sweetheart” of Judy. They all go together for lunch. During their conversation, they all learn that George is still a bachelor and is now a businessman in “oil”. The conversation between him and Judy goes smoothly.
Arnold asks George for a word in private. He suggests that their search is over, now that Burt has entered scene. George protests, but his friend tells him that Burt has all the requirements: is young, good looking, «loaded», and most importantly, Judy likes him back.
Despite his initial protest, George realizes that this, indeed, is what’s best for Judy and decides to ease her and himself into the idea of them «going over the hill and to the other side».
The adventure begins here…
What do you think, Andy?
«Send me no flowers» belongs to what I call “Flintstone comedies”: good, clean fun that stems from a simple misunderstanding. There’s no special effects, no overarching plots, no Grand Moral to learn.
Is it the best romantic comedy ever? Maybe not, but I’ve certainly payed good money for way worse experiences. Is it a paragon of marital love? Not really (see the footnote), but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
It’s, just like Rancid_Pickle said about «Pillow talk»: heartwarming in that old-movie way that they don’t do anymore. These days, we need a good reminder that sometimes that’s all it takes.
A ReQuested writeup: «Please node Send me no flowers»
At this point I want to talk briefly about a tangential topic. A few years ago my mom and I were watching the first season of «Bewitched» and something didn’t sit well with us. Then it hit us: at this time (early 60s) the social norm—in media, at least—is that a woman’s sole duty is to be a good wife and housekeep, and there’s no other path to a fulfilling life. This is the whole foundation upon which the movie rests: «Judy will never be self sufficient enough and must have a man to care for her.» It’s true that this sexist view is mostly gone and accepted as untrue, but it must be taken as-is for this movie to be enjoyable. And believe me, it’s immensely enjoyable apart from this fact.
Also, in «Bewitched», it was ok to show people smoking and drinking alcohol on prime time television, in a show for all ages. ↩︎