“Down With Love:” A Tribute to Doris Day Comedies of the ’60s
by hookedonhouses on February 16, 2009
Doris Day movies are among some of my favorites. They’re like comfort food–easy to watch over and over again, and they always feel good. “Pillow Talk,” especially, is a lot of fun, as she spars with Rock Hudson from beginning to end. So when “Down With Love” came out in 2003 as a tribute to those 1960s comedies, I ran straight to the theater to see it.
The sets and costumes were like eye candy. And there was a fun cameo with Tony Randall, who always played Rock’s funny friend. The movie itself, well, let’s just say it proved that Doris Day and Rock Hudson are irreplaceable. But Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor were game enough and tried their hardest to recreate the look and feel of the classic romantic comedies, even if they weren’t quite up to the task (in my opinion–I know there are lots of people who loved them in the roles, and I may even be in the minority here).
Zellweger plays Barbara Novak, the best-selling author of a book called Down With Love, recommending that women give up romance and try chocolate, careers, and casual affairs to fill their lives instead. Playboy journalist Catcher Block (McGregor) decides to do an expose on her by–what else–making her fall in love with him. But all isn’t as it appears, of course! Who is tricking whom here?
The producers used street scenes from the Doris Day movie “Touch of Mink” when Barbara rides in a taxi (from the special features on the DVD).
The painted backdrop that stretches behind Barbara’s windows (production photo).
The barber shop set (production photo).
In Catcher’s office. He’s a magazine writer for men’s magazine KNOW.
Vikki shows Barbara her new apartment for the first time, saying, “I hope you’re not disappointed.”
The view from Barbara’s window.
Barbara’s spiral staircase.
Barbara sunbathing on her terrace.
Split-screen–an effect frequently used in the Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedies.
Barbara’s bathroom (she’s dressing behind that screen).
Barbara dances around her apartment at night.
The view into Barbara’s apartment from the terrace.
Just had to show you this scene from the restaurant when Vikki and Barbara take off their coats to reveal coordinated outfits. Loved that.
Catcher’s bachelor pad.
When the sofa unexpectedly opens into a bed, it lands on Vikki (Sarah Paulson).
Production photo on set: Peter’s apartment.
Peter cooks dinner for Vikki in his apartment. David Hyde Pierce as Peter captured the essence of the Tony Randall characters from the Doris Day-Rock Hudson films perfectly.
Catcher in Peter’s kitchen.
Catcher admires himself as he dresses in his closet.
Vikki and Peter in Catcher’s apartment.
The jig is up; one of Catcher’s girlfriends walks in on him with Barbara.
Barbara is editor of a magazine called NOW, for Women in the Know.
I love this shot of Barbara at her desk because it really looks like it belongs in a Doris Day film.
Catcher comes to Barbara’s office, applying for a job as her secretary. She asks if he’s willing to take a 96.6% pay cut.
Rejected, Catcher leaves Barbara’s office.
The offices of NOW.
Surprise! Barbara is waiting in the elevator for Catcher. And–surprise again!–she’s now a redhead.
It’s Vegas or Bust. Roll credits as they ride the helicopter ladder–yes, they hang onto the ladder–over New York City, circa 1960.
Director Peyton Reed says: “It’s not the New York City of today and it’s not even the New York City of the early ’60s. It’s basically the New York City as seen through a Hollywood movie of that period.”
I was only able to find a couple of photos from “Down With Love” on the Internet, so I took the majority of these as I watched the movie on DVD and the special features that came with it. You can find more pictures of the sets at the SDSA (Set Decorators Society of America) site.
Linda of Silver Screen Surroundings did a couple of posts about “Down With Love” in 2007 that you should check out, telling you how to recreate the looks of Barbara’s penthouse and Catcher’s bachelor pad.
UPDATE: Check out the sets from the Doris Day-Rock Hudson comedy “Pillow Talk.”