Monday, January 31, 2022

Sandy and Bobby Have That Funny Feeling

Sandra Dee dressed for success.
Imagine a Doris Day-Rock Hudson romantic comedy with Sandra Dee in the Doris role, Bobby Darin in lieu of Rock, and Donald O’Connor replacing Tony Randall as the friend with the timely one-liners. That’s pretty much what you get with the 1965 comedy That Funny Feeling

Sandra Dee plays Joan, an aspiring actress who works as a maid in NYC. One of her housekeeping clients is executive/playboy Tom Milford (Bobby Darin), whom she has never met. When Tom thinks he’s going on a 10-day business trip, he telephones Joan so she knows cleaning services won’t be needed. 

A baffled Bobby Darin.
Over the next couple of days, Joan and Tom bump into each other multiple times and sparks fly—though Joan keeps her job a secret and neither reveals their last names. When Tom insists on escorting her home after an impromptu date, Joan panics. She doesn’t want Tom to see the ugly, little apartment that she shares with a friend. Remembering that her client is on a business trip (or so she thinks), she has Tom take her home to his apartment. He is understandably confused, but decides to play along. The situation escalates when Joan and her friend temporarily move into Tom’s place and he moves in with his boss (Donald O’Connor). 

It’s a silly premise, but still amusing and well executed. Dee and Darin, who were married at the time, are a likable screen couple. While they lack the exquisite comedy timing of pros Day and Hudson, they carry off the wacky situations with earnest appeal. They also have two factors working in their favor: a tight running time of just over 90 minutes and a delightful supporting cast. The latter includes: Nita Talbot as Joan’s pragmatic friend, Larry Storch as a neighbor (who needs more screen time), Leo G. Carrol as a Scottish pawnbroker, and Robert Strauss and Ben Lessy as bartenders commenting on the shenanigans. 

Donald O'Connor as Darin's boss.
Surprisingly, Donald O’Connor seems a little lost as Tom’s baffled boss and friend. Tony Randall played similar roles in Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back, but imbued them with an enthusiastic zeal that the typically reliable O’Connor lacks. It was his first film after a four-year hiatus from the big screen. 

That Funny Feeling could have also benefitted from more attention to detail. Joan is supposed to be a working girl with a tight budget, but Sandra Dee wears a number of fabulous outfits designed by Jean Louis. Then, there’s the case of the disappearing dog. After introducing Tom’s Labrador Retriever, Spike, the canine gets handed off to a bellhop and never appears again. We dog lovers want to know what happened to Spike!

In addition to starring opposite his wife, Bobby Darin also wrote the score, composed the theme song, and sang it. Amazingly, he wasn’t the first choice for the role, despite previously teaming with Sandra Dee in If a Man Answers (1962). One of the first choices for That Funny Feeling was Warren Beatty.

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like it has plenty of charm. I'm going to see if I can stream it somewhere...