Day and Garner in THE THRILL OF IT ALL

Beverly Boyer makes her debut as spokeswoman for “Happy Soap” by declaring, “I’m Beverly Boyer and I’m a pig” and then proceeds to stammer through a sweet family story about how much her young daughter enjoys the product.  Everyone laughs and she’s humiliated but old Tom Fraleigh, the owner of “Happy Soap,” is enchanted by Beverly’s potential to appeal to other housewives.  She’d landed the gig out of thin air when she accompanied her husband, Dr. Gerald Boyer, an obstetrician, to a dinner party given by one of his patients.  Dr. Boyer ignores his wife’s new role at first, never imagining that she would eventually become a star pitch woman, a huge celebrity, leaving her little time for him and her household duties.

Although many hijinks ensue, that’s the basic premise of Norman Jewison‘s, The Thrill of it All (1963), which stars Doris Day and James Garner as Dr. and Mrs. Boyer.  The two classic stars of the film are celebrating birthdays this week and hence, the publishing of this post today.  Not that I need an excuse to dedicate a post to these two greats – enjoyable in so much on their own, they also happen to be my favorite of the pairings in all the Doris Day romantic comedies of the 1960s.  They have wonderful chemistry.

The Thrill of it All In pictures...

Dr. & Mrs. Boyer in pre-“Happy Soap” marital bliss
An official job offer and a suspicious husband.
An official job offer.
A shocked and suspicious husband.
Well, OK, I guess you can take the job.
Celebrity pitch woman for "Happy Soap"
Celebrity pitch woman for “Happy Soap”
Where's mommy?
Where’s mommy?
Now plugging “Happy Detergent”
Frustrated husband trying to cope with his wife's celebrity
Frustrated husband trying to cope with his wife’s celebrity
Full-fledged marital strife!
Full-fledged marital strife!

But…“To err is human, to forgive is humaner!”

She needs his help in an emergency…
happy ending
…and she wants to be just a Doctor’s wife again.

The Thrill of it All is an enjoyable, lighthearted film thanks in large part to a great story co-written by writing legends Carl Reiner and Larry Gelbart and a script written by Reiner.  I can’t think of two who know more about writing comedy than those two and apparently the Writers Guild of America concurred as they were nominated for Best Written American Comedy for this film in 1964.  Reiner also makes a series of cameo appearances in the film, by the way, as a particularly bad actor in particularly bad roles on television shows sponsored by “Happy Soap.”  Naturally, he’s hilarious – somewhat reminiscent of his theatrics on classic television’s Sid Caesar Shows in which he was a main player.  I just adore him.  (As an aside, Gelbart wrote for Caesar as well).

Aside from its enjoyable story, Thrill features (understandably) dated messages with regards to gender roles, and despite some outlandish situations typical of classic screwball comedies, this film is worth a look for its players alone with both Day and Garner delivering performances for both laughs and warmth, which they deliver in spades.  Each has numerous scenes that show off their gifts of physical comedy. Garner in particular shines throughout the film – leading man looks (AND HOW!) and comedy chops – an “it’s getting hot in here” combination.

Also worthy of note is the fine cast of supporting players in Thrill all given the opportunity to showcase their talents.  These include Arlene Francis, ZaSu Pitts, Edward Andrews, and Alice Pearce (in a very small but funny part).  I’d watch any of these actors in anything any day of the week.  Although I must admit I’m familiar with Arlene Francis primarily for her role as a member of the panel of “What’s My Line,” a television game show that ran during the 1950s and 1960s that I watch regularly online.

Anyway, I’ll end this simple look at The Thrill of It All, in tribute to both James Garner and Doris Day, with a quote by New York Times film critic, Bosley Crowther, from his August 2, 1963 review of the film, “I don’t want to give you the impression that “The Thrill of It All” is a great film. I just want to tell you it is loaded with good, clean American laughs.”

Sometimes that’s all we want from a film – joy and beauty.  Here’s to two of the greats who bring joy and reflect beauty in all they do.

The Thrill of it All 


18 thoughts

  1. Love, love, love this rom-com. It’s a classic, and I’m a big James Garner fan. That look he gives Doris Day as the car sinks in the pool is just perfect! Glad you gave it a look, Aurora :-).

      1. I love that you love this film! And, of course, that you show these classics to your children. Such a charming movie and two great stars! As always, Michael, thanks for your support and enthusiasm.


  2. Love your post & I love this movie! Joy & Beauty indeed. You’re spot-on regarding their chemistry. There’s something about these battle of the sexes films of the late 50’s – mid 60’s that I have such a sentimental fondness- maybe because they chose such talented & charming actors or perhaps just for their fun & silly nature. Thanks for another great post!

    1. You’re too kind, Kellee but so happy you like this! I can easily get a sugar rush if I watch too many of these in a row – but this would be my favorite of those Doris Day romcoms. Grew up watching them on TV, as it probably was the case with you.


  3. Great stuff, Aurora! I agree with you on James Garner, he’s my favorite of Doris Day’s rom-com co-stars of the ’60s. They have serious chemistry and are both joys in this lighthearted but witty romp. Pure ’60s fun. I love it. And I love your review.

    1. Thanks so much. I kept it simple – when I started describing my favorite scenes I couldn’t stop so left them out. Wonderful cast and fun film.


  4. I have to confess that I saw this (as a child!) with my mom when it first came out and have loved it ever since. As a child, the scene where James Garner drives into the swimming pool tickled me to no end. As an adult, it still does, but so does the great chemistry between the 2 stars. Long live Doris Day!!

    1. INDEED! And James Garner too! Garner has always had that “magic” that appeals to both men and women equally – a guy’s guy that happens to be extraordinarily handsome. Not sure that makes sense but I can look at him forever. Thanks much for stopping in and your comments!


  5. This one always, always, always makes me happy when I watch it. And yes, the two of them together are SO good. I’m glad you wrote about this one…as always it’s a perfect article, Aurora.

  6. James Garner and Doris Day have such wonderful chemistry together; as my dear late mom used to playfully say, they have a great rappaport! 😀 THE THRILL OF IT ALL tackles satire, family issues, and sexy yet wholesome romance. I loved …THRILL… as a kid, and I’m happy you’ve blogged about it here for all the world to enjoy! Swell job, Aurora!

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