Fred Astaire stars as Biddeford “Pogo” Ford, a globetrotting playboy who has returned to San Francisco to attend his daughter Jessica’s wedding. The catch is that Pogo has only seen Jessica (Debbie Reynolds) three times in the last 15 years and not since she became a young woman. That hasn't dissuaded Jessica from asking her father to give her away at the wedding. Indeed, she is thrilled to see her father—although nobody else is.
As for Pogo, he has a hidden agenda and that’s to whisk away his daughter prior to the nuptials. He charms Jessica while skillfully humiliating her cattle rancher fiancé (Tab Hunter). In fact, he can scarcely hide his satisfaction when he causes a heated argument between the young couple.
|Fred dances a little...with Lilli Palmer.|
He effortlessly displays Pogo’s irresistible charm. There’s a smile on his lips and a twinkle in his eyes even as Pogo tries to destroy his daughter’s future happiness. He portrays the rascally playboy as a kid who knows he’s being bad, but can’t seem to help it. And because it’s Fred Astaire, the audience tends to cut Pogo some slack, too.
|Debbie Reynolds (and Fred's hands).|
|Lovely Lilli Palmer.|
The Pleasure of His Company was adapted from Samuel Taylor’s 1958 Broadway play that starred Cyril Ritchard as Pogo, Dolores Hart (Where the Boys Are) as Jessica, and a young George Peppard as Jessica’s fiancé. The only actor to appear in both play and film was Charles Ruggles as Kate’s father. He won a Tony for his stage performance, although he sadly gets little screen time in the film version.
Cinematographer Robert Burks (a Hitchcock favorite) lovingly captures the sights and sounds of San Francisco. Unfortunately, the dialogue-driven plot takes place mostly indoors. The result is that The Pleasure of His Company becomes a talky affair and, despite delightful performances from the cast (particularly Astaire and Palmer), it wears out its welcome. Just like Pogo Poole.