Tuesday, June 15, 2021

The Love Tunnel

Through an odd coincidence, I've been watching a bunch of movies from Columbia that are available on Columbia's MOD scheme. So in thinking about what to watch that isn't necessarily coming up soon, I looked through the films of March Star of the Month Doris Day. My first selection, oddly enough, was a Columbia movie, It Happened to Jane, so I'll save that one for later. Instead, I watched the MGM comedy The Tunnel of Love.

Doris Day plays Isolde Poole, a housewife living in Westport, CT with her cartoonist husband August (Richard Widmark), nicknamed Augie. She's been unable to have a baby, with the question of whether it's a medical issue on her or Augie's part being an open question. Meanwhile, the couple's neighbors and best friends, the Peppers (Gig Young and Elisabeth Fraser), already have three kids with a fourth on the way. There's theoretically some scope for tension between the couple, but this is a light comedy.

Isolde decides she's going to go to the Rockabye Adoption Agency, run by Miss McCracken (Elizabeth Wilson). There are a lot of couples who want a kid and not so many infants up for adoption, so it might be a wait. In he meantime, the agency sends a social worker, Estelle Novick (Gia Scala) to check on the Poole's situation as well as talk to references, which in this case means the Peppers.

Thanks to a series of misunderstandings of the sort you'd see on Three's Company 20 years later, Augie thinks he's bollixed the change for the couple to adopt. But Estelle comes back to give the couple a second chance, and Augie screws things up even more, taking Estelle to dinner, getting rip-roaring drunk, and waking up in a motel room the next afternoon.

Oh, and that's the half of his problems. Some months later, Miss Novick comes back for one last time, asking for a loan from Augie. Augie puts two and two together, and realizes that he must have knocked Estelle up on that night he got blackout drunk. He compounds his previous lies by cutting Estelle a check but not telling Isolde anything about it and making up a story with Mr. Pepper, who lies to his wife about it.

Amazingly, however, quite a few months later, or just about the time Estelle would put a baby up for adoption, the agency informs the Pooles that some sort of miracle has happened and the Pooles have been moved to the front of the line for adoption. The agency has a lovely boy for the Pooles to adopt, although technically they're just on trial for the first year. One minor problem is that everybody takes one look at the child and thinks he looks amazingly like Augie.

The Tunnel of Love is the sort of light comedy that most fans of Doris Day will probably like, but also the sort of thing that I have all sorts of problems with. That's mostly down to it being what I've always called a "comedy of lies", where a character has to make up a little white lie to get out of a situation, only for the lie to snowball and have to make bigger and bigger lies. When it's not a comedy, as with the recently recommended Quicksand, it can work. But for me, I've always found it grating. I also didn't like GIg Young in the supporting role, as his character was also written to be fairly obnoxious. I also wonder if any of that was down to Gene Kelly's direction. He should have stuck to choreographing musical numbers when behind the camera, I think.

Still, I know this is going to appeal to a certain segment of movie goers. I'm just not in that segment. So watch and judge for yourself.

No comments: