Do Not Disturb posterA lesser entry in the swath of Doris Day sex comedies from the sixties, Do Not Disturb never escapes the disjointed, episodic confines of the script by Richard L. Breen and Milt Rosen. The film tries out several angles for Day – the American fish hopelessly out of water in England; the loopy animal lover inviting fauna such as a fox (she rescues from a hunt) and a fancy goat to live in her home; and the hapless housewife attempting to convert a dilapidated estate into a loving, livable home.

Doris Day rescues a fox from a hunt and then ends up adopting it. I wonder if the actress's real-life fondness for animals inspired the script.

Doris Day rescues a fox from a hunt and then ends up adopting it. I wonder if the actress’s real-life fondness for animals inspired the script.

None of these attempts stick, however, and the story moves toward familiar bedroom farce territory, complete with a scheming secretary (the boring, non-threatening Maura McGiveney) and a mischievous, meddling neighbor (the entertaining Hermione Baddeley), but even then the narrative really jumps around, trotting out and quickly aborting a promising invented-lover-as-revenge plot line, though this does introduce sexual temptation in the form of Sergio Fantoni, not really dashing or debonair enough, who leads Day on a wild trip through Paris culminating in a drunken overnight lock-up inside an antique shop with only one bed.

Doris Day drunken awakening

America’s sweetheart Doris Day wakes up hung over, believing herself a blackout drunk adultress.

The hardcore farcical element doesn’t truly begin until the aftermath of said confinement, after a discovery of Day and Fantoni in faux-in-flagranti by angry husband Rod Taylor, who is sufficiently sexy but nowhere nearly as deft a comic actor as Day’s other co-stars from the genre, Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, and James Garner.

The finale set in a hotel full of philandering businessmen and their glamourous girlfriends – with Day charading as one of the mistresses – has an energy and pacing that the rest of the film lacks and suggests the potential of the sexy story that is never quite reached.

Doris Day vamps in a glittery gown at the end of Do Not Disturb.

Doris Day vamps in a glittery gown at the end of Do Not Disturb.

Perhaps the unevenness owes to the first director, Ralph Levy being injured and subsequently replaced by George Marshall. Levy’s experience was primarily in sitcoms, while Marshall’s lay in film. The majority of Do Not Disturb has the patched-together feel of several A- and B-storylines from a half-hour sitcom (probably a Levy leftover), while the final act comes across more as a full-fledged Hollywood film, possibly owing to Marshall’s takeover.

The one constant in the movie is Doris Day. Though not a particularly versatile actress, she excels in physical comedy – highlights here include her aforementioned drunk scene and later a dance number in a dress with a dangerously plunging backline – and she conveys determination and exasperation with a precision that few of her contemporaries could match. Moreoever, she has a presence onscreen that simultaneously suggests both uptight propriety and the giddy promise of sex (she really is American!), a discordance making her the ideal performer for the bedroom farce that Do Not Disturb hopes to be but only fleetingly becomes.

Doris Day Do Not Disturb