A Bad Day for Critics
In the range of Doris Day movies "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" would come firmly in the middle to lower half because whilst it's pleasantly entertaining it's far from being memorable. It has all the prescribed elements, those moments of light hearted comedy, a bunch of quirky characters, even a musical moment for Doris Day to charm us with her delightful singing talents but for the most "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" never comes alive, ending up amusing but easily forgotten.
Larry (David Niven - The Bishop's Wife) and Kate McKay (Doris Day - Pillow Talk) are a happily married couple with four young boys and with Larry finally getting his dream job as a theatre critic they can finally leave their cramped apartment and move to a house in the country. But as Kate sets about fixing up the battered old house, Larry not only seems to be falling in love with his new job and the whole Manhattan social scene a little too much but also flirtatious Broadway diva Deborah Vaughn (Janis Paige) who has him in her sights.
The storyline to "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" is for the most simple with Doris Day playing a home maker who thanks to her husband's new career as a major theatre critic ends up suffering a few domestic issues due to the stress of the new job. Whilst adapted from Jean Kerr's semi-autobiographical book the end result is all a little familiar as we go through a variety of playbook scenes such as troublesome children, an amorous third woman leading to trust issues and so on. As such there are plenty of light hearted moments crafted to deliver a few laughs but they never really come alive and often barely raise a smile. Though saying that there are some moments in "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" which do hit the mark including an in joke about Rock Hudson and also the dilemma's which Larry faces as a critic.
Maybe the issues with it not really coming alive lies with it trying to stay too close to Jean Kerr's book, struggling to bring too much of it authentically to the screen. Maybe it's just that the comedy and scenes of domestic strife are all too familiar. Maybe it's even that Doris Day seems to be coasting along but what is for sure there is something not quite right stopping "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" from ever being really funny or memorable.
As for Doris Day, well she is as lovely as ever playing the home maker, mother of 4 tiny tearaways and as such radiates warmth with every smile. She even delivers that clever side where as the home maker and loving wife she appears to be going along with her husbands wishes yet is manipulating him for her own means. But whilst Day lights up the screen and gives us a couple of musical moments it all feels slightly wrong with none of those trademark exaggerated facial expressions to show moments of comedy. It ends up a rather weak character and although enjoyable a relatively mediocre performance.
Alongside Doris Day is the charming David Niven who it has to be said is perfectly cast as a theatre critic, with that slight air of pompousness about him. And it makes it sort of believable that in an old fashioned way he doesn't really have any closeness to his four sons. But then the pairing of Doris Day and Day Niven just doesn't work and there is no real chemistry between them.
Aside from Doris Day and Day Niven there really aren't a strong third character, and that maybe where part of the issue lies because these movies need a strong third focal character to give it another layer. So what we get are some mildly entertaining performances from Richard Haydn as producer Alfred North, Janis Paige as seductive stage artist Deborah Vaughn and Spring Byington as Suzie Robinson but none of them get to make a mark because there characters are frankly background noise.
What this all boils down to is that "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" is a fun, entertaining movie but is not overly memorable. Doris Day is her usual delightful self and David Niven is cast brilliantly as a critic but the chemistry between them is minimal leaving "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" wanting. And with much of the comedy failing to really garner the laughs it's by no means a brilliant movie just one which will entertain and then most likely be forgotten.