Thrille of It All, The: Doris Day Romantic Comedy Co-Starring James Garner

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, Doris Day, then the most popular star in Hollywood, made a series of entertaining romantic comedies, produced by by Ross Hunter and her husband, Martin Melcher.

The best of this sub-genre were Pillow Talk in 1959 and Lover Comes Back, three years later, both opposite Rock Hudson.

Directed by Norman Jewison and written by Carl Reiner, The Thrill of It All casts Day as the average American housewife, married to successful gynecologist (James Garner) and devoted to raising their two children.

When one of Garner’s patients, Francis, hears Day rave about her new shopping discovery, “Happy Soap,” a product that is produced by Francis’ father-in-law, Owen, she orchestrates a meeting between the two.

He is thrilled by her freshness, honesty, and candor, and signs her to an $80,000 contract to appear in TV commercials as the Happy Soap lady.  But success means devotion to her career and neglect of her family duties.

Husband Garner is naturally upset, and absent-mindedly drives his convertible into a new swimming pool that had not been in his backyard when he left in the morning. Frustrated, he throws dozens of boxes of “Happy Soap” into the pool.  Soon the whole house is encased in bubbles.

Eventually Garner hits upon a plan to bring Day back home. He pretends to be too busy for domestic life, which now upsets Day to the point that she gives up advertising and returns home.

Zasu Pitts, who shines as the family maid, died of cancer after the shoot.

While not one of Day’s or Garner’s best pictures, The Thrill of It All is nonetheless a mildly entertaining spoof of TV and commercials, and a good star vehicle for Day.

In a few years, Jewison would emerge as the director of major movies, such as the 1967 Oscar winner In the Heat of the Night and the 1971 movie musical, Fiddler on the Roof.