By 1962, Cary Grant’s career had waxed and waned several times and the triumph of North by Northwest in 1959 represented something of a comeback for the star. In 1961, Doris day was the number one box office attraction in the world, but out of respect for Grant’s long and distinguished career, which was entering its fourth decade, Day graciously allow her costar’s name to proceed hers in the billing for That Touch of Mink. The pairing with Day allowed Grant to enjoy a huge box office smash, something he had not had since To Catch a Thief in 1955. Day had just made two successful movies with Rock Hudson, who reportedly wanted the lead for this film, but the director ultimately opted for Grant. Hudson would have had a hard time being convincing in this role as a suave, powerful millionaire with the world at his fingertips, something which came with considerable ease to Grant.
Doris Day plays Cathy Timberlake, an out-of-work computer operator in search of a job. Still coasting on the squeaky-clean image built up in her films of the 50s, Day character is a pure but resourceful all-American girl who lives with her automat waitress friend Connie (Audrey Meadows of TV’s “The Honeymooners”, whom Grant rallied for in casting). Connie seems more concerned with preserving Cathy’s virginity than Cathy herself. Indeed, all of the women, and a few of the men (notably Dick Sargeant of “Bewitched” in a small role) are absolutely terrified of sex. The arch villain here is the smarmy Everett Beasley (John Astin of “The Addams Family”), a social security worker who hands Cathy her unemployment checks and commits the ultimate offense by inviting her to his apartment for a TV dinner. Even the suave, rich and handsome Grant character is vilified for seeming to want to bed Cathy, who breaks out in hives at the sight of a queen-sized canopied bed.
The fact that Doris Day was 40, and Grant was pushing 60 at the time of filming makes this scenario seem laughably outdated, even by the moral standards early ’60s America. This is a sex comedy with very little sex. But as with any Cary Grant film, at the very least we have two beautiful stars sharing the screen to look at, and the scene in which the two ride a freight elevator up to his future apartment in an unfinished skyscraper is a classic and magical moment in cinema.