The Thrill of it All

Movie

And Sarah said, God hath made me to laugh, so that all that hear will laugh with me. And she said, Who would have said unto Abraham, that Sarah should have given children suck? for I have born him a son in his old age. —Genesis 21:7

The elderly wife of a soap magnate cackles up and down Fifth Avenue. Her obstetrician (James Garner) has worked a miracle. A three-month prescription cruise with her husband will bear fruit.

The father-to-be invites the obstetrician and his wife (Doris Day) over for a celebratory dinner, complete with round-trip transportation from his personal chauffeur. Minutes after they arrive, he has an epiphany: a Real Housewife, so real that her only hobbies are the PTA and ketchup-bottling, could pitch Happy Soap on TV much better than a chorus girl. A wholesome suburban family of four (plus live-in maid, played by Hollywood veteran ZaSu Pitts) becomes unhappy in its own way. Thank God MILF has yet to enter the lexicon.

Carl Reiner’s script shows a discriminating ear for dialect and a campy zeal for mayhem. Norman Jewison’s direction, of both people and things, combines gentleness and innuendo in a way reminiscent of Lubitsch.

There’s an uncanny resemblance between the lead couple in this movie and that in Eyes Wide Shut (Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman). Both stories are about a chiseled, successful doctor and blonde, stay-at-home mom whose marriage is threatened by a voyeurist/exhibitionist offer from the capitalist class that can’t be refused.

 

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