‘Pillow Talk’ or — Mutually Assured Destruction?

Colin Edwards
3 min readAug 28, 2023

So I watched ‘Pillow Talk’ (1959) at the weekend and let’s just say I have some thoughts on the movie, and they are thoughts I’d like to share with you right now by means of the lazy writer’s greatest friend — a series of haphazardly banged-out bullet points!

· — Life in Eisenhower’s America Must’ve Been F%cking Nuts.

It’s must’ve been totally crazy living in 1950’s America and not just because of the political paranoia, rampant sexual harassment and compulsory alcoholism but also the fact that everyone had to deal with their homes being so brightly decorated in such legitimately unhinged Technicolor hues that every time they walked into their kitchens in the mornings it must have completely destroyed their retinas. Not only that but it must’ve been a cognitive nightmare when every time you used the phone concrete reality would suddenly shatter and turn split-screen meaning if you wanted to, say, call up your doctor you’d have to contend with the instantaneous fracturing of space/time whenever you picked up the receiver. No wonder everyone was in psychoanalysis.

· — Tony Randall was a Comedy Genius.

Fans of Tony Randall don’t need to be told how funny he was but the way he always manages to steal the show in these Day/Hudson movies is remarkable. I don’t think anyone else did humourous snivelling as well as Randall and it’s also a delight watching Hudson happily sitting back and letting Randall take centre stage.

· — Does Every Doris Day/Rock Hudson Movie Revolve Around Doris Day Getting Psychological Tortured?

So a pattern I’ve noticed in all these Day/Hudson comedies and that’s every single one seems to be based on the following structure — Day and Hudson don’t get along because Day is, for want of a better expression, somewhat sexually uptight and Hudson is a copulating monster and complete asshole who’s determined to break her down by any means necessary. However, Day and Hudson don’t know who the other really is so Hudson pretends to be a sweet, charming, DECENT human being in order to seduce Day into bed even though, deep down, he’s a venereal nightmare. And it works! Even though Day eventually realises that she’s been the subject of psychological manipulation that would make the C.I.A. puke she still falls for the asshole even when it’s revealed he’s been the asshole she’s hated all along. Attempting to fully untangle the psycho-sexual dynamics in all this is a task utterly beyond my intellectual powers.

· — Rock Hudson Existence Could Only Occur in a Nation in Possession of Nuclear Capabilities.

I’ve alluded to this before, specifically when discussing Hudson’s work with Sirk, but Rock Hudson existence, for me, only makes sense in a country that’s developed atomic weapons and nuclear power. The scale and latent energy of the man is staggering (the movements of his chest could supply enough power for New Jersey alone) meaning the very thought of him existing in an era or geographical location devoid of any form of atomic capacity is utterly unthinkable.

This phenomena comes to its inevitable, and fullest, manifestation in ‘Ice Station Zebra’ (1968), a film where Hudson plays the role he was always destined to play — a nuclear submarine Commander. In fact, Hudson is so vast and inherently thermonuclear in nature that he might’ve well have PLAYED the nuclear submarine itself.

No wonder Doris Day never stood a chance against him — he’s like a Polaris UGM-27 missile in a cardigan.

Anyway, that’s ‘Pillow Talk’; a charming, sweet, romantic comedy that could only be the product of a nation capable of instantaneously destroying itself and the rest of the planet along with it.

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Colin Edwards

Comedy writer, radio producer and director of large scale audio features.