Saturday, March 9, 2024

Humor? You've Got to Be Kidding!

I've mentioned the comedies of the 1960s, especially the "generation gap" comedies where older Hollywood was trying to keep being "with it" with the younger audiences of the day. A lot of such movies are ones that I don't find very good, because they come across as terribly dated, and probably weren't very funny at the time. Another one that really fits that description is Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding!.

The movie opens up with a sequence during the credits of a red VW Beetle leading people on a chase through one of the suburbs of Los Angeles, with a couple of motorcycle cops leading the way. The car finally comes to a stop, revealing that it was driving to a hospital. Three men are bickering in the car, and then out comes an older woman, followed by a much younger woman. It doesn't take long to figure out that the younger woman, Heather Halloran (Sandra Dee) is the daughter of the older woman, Louise (Celeste Holm), and that Heather has gone into labor. However, at the hospital, Louise announces Heather has "Miss Halloran. For 'professional' reasons." The implication is that Heather got pregnant out of wedlock, which was a much bigger thing back in the days of the generation gap movie.

At this point, Heather does one of those scenes where we hear her thoughts over the action, and she's wondering how she got herself into this. Unfortunately, she doesn't mean how she got herself into this turkey of a movie, but how she got pregnant without a husband and three young men chasing her to the hospital. Cue the inevitable flashback....

Heather never seems to have had a father in her life, while Mom is the pushy stage mother right out of Gypsy. Mom thinks little Heather can sing, and Mom took the juvenile Heather to appear before various talent agents. Heather would rather just be the regular all-American girl, go off to college, get a job, and then a husband at some point down the road. Eventually she does graduate and becomes a secretary to young executive Harlan Wycliff (George Hamilton).

But Mom is still trying to get Heather into the entertainment business. To that end, she's brought in a songwriter, Pat Murad (Dick Kallman), to write some songs for Heather. Also showing up at the house is their next-door neighbor since Heather's childhood days, Dick Bender (Bill Bixby). He's held a torch for Heather since what one would guess were their high school days. Finally, there's Hank Judson (Dwayne Hickman). He's trying to break in as an actor, and has even gotten some work as an extra and a body double, but for the most part he's reduced to being a shoe salesman. When Heather buys a pair of shoes from him, he falls for her so shows up at the Halloran house unannounced.

Eventually, Mom actually does find Heather a singing job at a nightclub, not that she really wants to take it. So she claims she's going to get into a relationship with her boss Harlan. That doesn't quite work out, but by the time it doesn't work out, she finds out that she's pregnant. One would think Harlan is the father, but Heather doesn't seem to want him. At least there are three other guys who want her even if none of them is the biological father.

You can see why somebody would look at the premise behind Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding!, and think that there's a great movie to be made here. But none of it works, at least not in my opinion. I think part of it is how the boundary-pushing is so stuck in the 1960s. But in addition, none of the characters outside of the one played by Sandra Dee is very appealing. I didn't want any of these guys to wind up with her at the end.

Still, as always, this is the sort of movie you should probably watch and judge for yourself. Some people, after all, do like this sort of 1960s movie.

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