The world lost a shining light of female grace and gumption last week with the passing of Doris Day. Beloved by so many, it’s difficult to pinpoint what captivated us. Was it her cheerful onscreen persona that could make even the worst day just a little bit better? Or the way she portrayed working women as real people- driven to succeed but vulnerable enough to desire love? Or perhaps it was her style- that perfect, not-a-hair-out-of-place style which made us understand how a woman could find pleasure and power in the art of beauty, just for herself. For me, it was all of these things and more. I’ve already covered one of my favorite movie characters Jan Morrow in Pillow Talk, but as we celebrate the life of Doris Day, I think it’s important to discuss another important role, Cathy Timberlake in That Touch of Mink (Disc/Download).
When I first saw this film twenty years ago, the only memory I took away was the Automat. Such a quaint but brilliant concept- a vending machine for hot food! Genius! But watching it now, as an adult, and as a fan of the romance genre, I can say That Touch of Mink was ahead of its time. Within the gorgeous Mad Men-esque world of the 1960s, we see Doris as an unemployed career-gal, meeting cute with Cary Grant over a Manhattan mud puddle. You expect this film to progress a certain way (secretary falls for her charming, grumpy, billionaire boss, etc. etc.), but instead it ends up in a totally different place. The rich tycoon doesn’t give her a job (at least not right away). Rather, he offers her a trip around the world, a new wardrobe, and a lavish penthouse, all in exchange for… being with him. Because it’s 1962, the sex is only implied, but we know what this arrangement entails. We assume Doris will slap him in the face, but surprising everyone, she agrees! She jets off to Bermuda, wears his mink coat (in the tropics no less), and lets him parade her around in front of the other tycoons and party girls. But this being Doris, she comes down with a rash and can’t actually go through with the act. Cary, in his dopey Mr. Rogers cardigans, is pissed but gentlemanly about it. She manages to snag him in the end by hatching a jealousy plot with John Astin, but already the damage is done. The audience sees Doris as a Bad Girl. A girl who essentially agrees to prostitute herself, who drinks a bottle of scotch, and invites the creepy guy at the Unemployment Office to join her in a weekend motel romp. And the thing is, I’m still pretty smitten with this version of Doris.
One of my bucket-list items is to stay at Doris Day’s hotel in Carmel, CA, the Cypress Inn. I’ve already perused their bar menu and picked out the drink I will have in Terry’s Bar (yeah, I’m that much of a planner). It’s a champagne cocktail which pairs beautifully with this sophisticated, unusual film. While watching That Touch of Mink, I recommend having a Day Drink.
1/4 oz Peach Schnapps
1/2 oz Bourbon
Place sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute, and soak with a few dashes of bitters. Top with Peach Schnapps and Bourbon, then Sparkling Rosé.
It’s incredibly striking to see the threads this movie shares with our modern counterpart, Fifty Shades of Grey. Handsome, commitment-phobic billionaire seeks smart, pretty, innocent gal for exotic getaways, dress-up sessions, and sex? Check, check, and check. We’re missing the BDSM, but I don’t think I can picture Doris with a riding crop. Unless we’re talking Calamity Jane, in which case she’s a natural. So this week, let’s raise our glasses to Doris Day, patron saint of love, career, and family. Through her films, through her EPIC eye-rolls, I understand what it is to be a woman. Cheers!