Cary Grant is certainly the epitome of a leading man, and the moment he is introduced to Doris Day’s character, Cathy Timberlake, in That Touch of Mink proves why but I didn’t care for the dynamic of their relationship from that point on in the film much less its depiction of gender roles.
I should take into account the date of the film, 1962, but Cathy’s transition from meeting Philip Shane (Grant) for the purpose of confronting him about splashing her with his car as he drove by on the street in New York to being completely smitten and willing to do anything to win his heart just didn’t go over well with me.
Philip is a wealthy businessman who can give Cathy anything she wants and a taste of his lifestyle or “a touch of mink” as he buys her fancy clothes and takes her on a trip to Bermuda. But what she doesn’t get is respect or the acknowledgment that she is more than a side piece for Philip and even worse Cathy mostly gives into it.
Perhaps it was supposed to be a tongue-in-cheek commentary about gender roles in society at the time, but I think things have changed so much it’s hard for me to see the film in that way.
Cathy is on her way to the unemployment office when she meets Philip and then was supposed to go to a job interview. Instead, she ends up chasing after him and he just strings her along with the promise of a marriage proposal.
I understand the film is supposed to be a comedy and Day even made a series of films with a similar premise and character, but the “humor” of it all only goes so far in my opinion.
Stylistically, I enjoy the theatrics of the classic films I’ve seen so far this year and That Touch of Mink does have strong points in that regard with its costumes and scenes in New York. It also has solid writing, despite the flaws in its themes and the actual dialogue between Cathy and Philip. Day and Grant work well together, but their on-screen chemistry wasn’t enough to offset the imbalance in their relationship dynamic.
The film is built with undertones that you’re supposed to want Cathy and Philip to be together and that theme, even for the sake of comedy, doesn’t work when his character mostly degrades women and doesn’t see anything beyond a darling in need of being rescued.
Emily V. Gordon is back today:
“You do not have the responsibility to change yourself in order to meet your partner’s needs. You can make a choice to change if you are able and would like to. And note: this goes both ways. The person you are dating is not the perfected version you see in your head; the person you are dating is the person in front of you.”