Day Makes a Splash as a Kooky Mermaid
Whether you enjoy it or not there is one thing certain about "The Glass Bottom Boat" and that is that it's a product of it's times. Firstly it's a Doris Day movie from the 60s and so you have all the workings of a romantic comedy, secondly it's a spy spoof as it has fun with the whole cold-war/ espionage side of things and thirdly it's got a touch of the space race with much of the hilarity revolving around a secret formula. Daft it most certainly is, amusing well some of the time and all in all pointless but "The Glass Bottom Boat" is entertaining.
Jennifer Nelson (Doris Day - Send Me No Flowers) and Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor - Do Not Disturb) don't get off to a good start when whilst working as a mermaid, Bruce accidentally hooks off the bottom half of Jennifer's costume leaving her bottomless in the sea. Things don't get much better when Jennifer learns that Bruce is her boss at a research lab where she is a tour guide. But Bruce is infatuated by the pretty blonde and in order to get closer cooks up a plan, employing her as his personal biographer so that he can get to know her better. But there is a problem as Bruce is the key man who holds a secret formula critical to the space race and his friends believe that Jennifer is a Mata Hari type spy, leading to much confusion.
"The Glass Bottom Boat" starts on a high of wackiness with Doris Day as Jennifer Nelson working as a mermaid for her father when her tail is hooked by Bruce Templeton whilst fishing, leaving Jennifer bottomless in the water berating Bruce for his carelessness. It's daft with a sense of sexiness about it which paves the way for the rest of the movie. As such "The Glass Bottom Boat" is full of these whacky moments from the futuristic kitchen in Templeton's home through to Jennifer's regular phone calls home so that her pet dog Vladimir gets exercise when he hears the phone ring. All of which is pretty daft but also pretty amusing.
Talking of daft well you have to say that the storyline is as daft as they come and sadly a bit unfocussed. In order to try and incorporate the space race and espionage into a romantic comedy there is a lot going on leaving it a bit messy. You get the predictable romance between Jennifer and Bruce thanks to the coincidence that she ends up working for him; you get the whole secret formula mumbo jumbo which he creates and the incompetent spy trying to steal it leading to all the confusion as to who the real spy is. All of which is done with a sense of comedy which would leave Woody Allen's spy spoof "Casino Royale" in the shade but it's messy. It almost has a feel that things have been thrown in just to try and make you laugh such as a dream sequence which sees Doris Day as Mata Hari.
But whilst it is messy it does have a lot of clever comical moments, such as that futuristic kitchen with the robot cleaner, the bungling spy which sees Dom DeLuise working his comical magic as Julius and of course the whole fun and confusion of when Jennifer realises that she is suspected of being a spy so plays them along.
And of course being a Doris Day movie there are a couple of musical moments thrown in for good measure. Although other than a short but pleasant rendition of "Que Sera, Sera" the over enthusiastic other songs are a little cheesy to say the least, but then in fitting with the whole comedy side of the movie. As for Doris Day well she is as fun as ever, sweet, charming, and kooky with all the usual face pulling and basically wins us over with her lovable personality, basically a very stereotypical Doris Day performance but still good fun. Opposite Day is Rod Taylor as love interest Bruce Templeton and whilst tall and handsome is not so different to any other of the many leading men Day has played opposite of.
In many ways it's the supporting performances which provide a lot of the fun and as already mention Dom DeLuise is spot on as bungling spy Julius. But it is Paul Lynde as busy body security officer Homer Cripps which almost steals the show with his unique voice and sarcasm as well as dressing up as a woman in a rather humorous bathroom scene.
What this all boils down to is that "The Glass Bottom Boat" is fun, amusing, pleasant and all those things you expect from a Doris Day romantic comedy. But it is all a little messy as it tries to bring elements of the space race and espionage into a romantic storyline leaving it a little unfocussed.