Boys Night Out (1962): Romantic Comedy, Starring Kim Novak (as Sociology Student?), James Garner, and Tony Randall

Michael Gordon directed Boys Night Out, a fluffy, semi-clever romantic comedy starring Kim Novak, James Garner, and Tony Randall.

Boys’ Night Out
BoysNightOut.jpg

Theatrical release poster

Written by Ira Wallach, based on a story by Arne Sultan and Marvin Worth, the tale concerns a clique of mature men dreaming about having fun outside their routine marriages and suburban lifestyle.

Three married men, George (Tony Randall), Doug (Howard Duff), and Howie (Howard Morris), and divorcé Fred (James Garner) commute daily to work on the same train from Greenwich, Connecticut, to New York City.

While observing Fred’s philandering boss, Mr. Bingham (Larry Keating), with his mistress, the men begin to fantasize about sharing an apartment in the city for playing.

Fred rents a luxurious suite from Peter Bowers (Jim Backus), who is desperate to find a tenant because the previous one was a murder victim. By chance, Cathy (Kim Novak) answers the ad for the apartment. Fred explains that the place has already been taken, but that he is also looking for a “housekeeper” for his friends. To his surprise, Cathy accepts the job.

Delighted, the boys tells their wives that they are taking a nightly course to improve their intellectual faculties. Unbeknownst to the men, Cathy is actually a sociology graduate student writing her thesis on the “adolescent fantasies of the adult suburban male.”

Cathy encourages the men to talk, while secretly recording their conversations. She avoids being seduced, although each lets the others think he had sex with her. She supplies what each one dreams about. Howie wants more substantial food than his dieting wife provides; Doug likes to repair things that are conveniently broken each week; George enjoys talking about himself more than his spouse allows.¬† Fred, who’s very attracted to Cathy, claims to be disgusted by his friends’ fabricated stories.

In the end, the wives become suspicious, and following the advice of Fred’s mother, Ethel (Jessie Royce Landis), hire private eye Ernest Bohannon (Fred Clark) to investigate. Assuming the worst, the women then confront their husbands.

In the end, all three males confess that nothing happened, and Cathy reveals her identity as a researcher. Getting over the initial shock, Fred and Cathy become a couple, and the boys’ night out ends.

Financed by Novak’s Kimco production company, Boys Night Out was meant to resurrect Novak’s career, which was in decline after the death of Columbia’s head Harry Cohn, but it was neither a critical or commercial success; it incurred a loss.

The movie, which unfolds as TV sit-com, did propel James Garner’s career, leading to major big screen roles and then TV series.

Cast
Kim Novak as Cathy
James Garner as Fred Williams
Tony Randall as George Drayton
Howard Duff as Doug Jackson
Janet Blair as Marge Drayton, George’s wife
Patti Page as Joanne McIllenny, Howard’s wife
Jessie Royce Landis as Ethel Williams, Fred’s mother
Oskar Homolka as Dr. Prokosch, Cathy’s academic advisor
Howard Morris as Howard McIllenny
Anne Jeffreys as Toni Jackson, Doug’s wife
Zsa Zsa Gabor as boss’s girl friend
William Bendix as Slattery, bartender
Fred Clark as Ernest Bohannon, private detective
Jim Backus as Peter Bowers