Kim Novak and James Garner star in BOYS' NIGHT OUT, directed by Michael Gordon for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Boys’ Night Out (1962, Michael Gordon)

Ah, the 1960s sex comedy. I guess Hollywood was ecstatic to be able to use the word sex in a film back then. Actually, watching the film, I thought it was later, maybe 1966. But it couldn’t have been, because Kim Novak wasn’t making films in ’66 (according to IMDb). Kim Novak has always gotten a bad rap (I thought Maltin said she’d never delivered a natural performance, but that’s not the case according to IMDb’s reprint of his bio of her, so it was probably Ebert). Kim Novak’s a good actor. She comes out best in this film, though Garner has a few good moments and Tony Randall does an interesting precursor–in body language–of Niles Crane.

The film is mildly amusing, not particularly good or well-made. William Bendix is in it for a bit as a bartender and he’s great (Bendix is usually great). These “sex comedies” didn’t understand how to construct a good conclusion, even though the romantic comedy conclusion had been in place since the mid-1930s. It’s like they forgot them for a bit and you got stuck with bad endings, without rising music and such. The “morals” of the film–the intent on the husband’s part can translate, after he gets caught, into a better marriage–are incredibly offensive, another aspect of the “sex comedy,” one best exemplified by A Guide for the Married Man.

The 1960s are an incredibly odd period of cinema (not just American). They didn’t quite know what to do–Lolita was the same year as Boys’ Night Out and the same studio too. You had two forward-moving film movements, both arguably aimed at the mass market, both building on what came before, but one a little bit less self-aware (the sex comedy). Odd how it all worked out. I wonder if there was ever a specific breaking point where the pendulum got stuck….

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by Michael Gordon; screenplay by Ira Wallach, based on a story by Marvin Worth and Arne Sultan, adapted by Marion Hargrove; director of photography, Arthur E. Arling; edited by Tom McAdoo; music by Frank De Vol; produced by Martin Ransohoff; and presented by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

Starring Kim Novak (Cathy), James Garner (Fred Williams), Tony Randall (George Drayton), Howard Duff (Doug Jackson), Janet Blair (Marge Drayton), Patti Page (Joanne McIllenny), Jessie Royce Landis (Ethel Williams), Oscar Homolka (Dr. Prokosch), Howard Morris (Howard McIllenny), Anne Jeffreys (Toni Jackson), Zsa Zsa Gabor (Girl with boss), Fred Clark (Mr. Bohannon), William Bendix (Slattery), Jim Backus (Peter Bowers), Larry Keating (Mr. Bingham) and Ruth McDevitt (Beaulah Patridge).


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One thought on “Boys’ Night Out (1962, Michael Gordon)”

  1. Just watched it last night, not for the first time, but the first time completely through.To be honest, I watched it more for the “style” aspects…the furniture, the cool apartment, etc.I’ve always been fascinated by the films of the early 60’s, primarily due to the rapid acceleration into realism that followed in such a few short years. Think about what films where like say, 6 years ago (2001), pretty much the same. Now contrast Boy’s Night Out with any film from 1967 (6 years later). It might as well have been 60 years later.Like, some, I’ve had this idealized picture of life in the late 50’s early 60’s, where you could smoke pretty much anywhere, the rat race was still something that people honestly aspired to, even if somewhat hesitantly. This movie fits the bill for those who view the era through rose-coloured glasses. In fact, it’s best viewed without the sound. Just enjoy the cool clothes, furniture, that awesome apartment view (does anyone have an idea of which part of Manhattan this is supposed to be? I see what is probably the UN building at Turtle Bay, but then again the address is “East End Avenue” East Side? If so, that’s not the view you’d expect).Anyway, pretty decent movie I suppose. I like Garner’s performance (you don’t see movies from that era featuring a divorced guy around that age). Couldn’t stand Novak…never found her attractive at all…in fact, found one or two of the “wives” much hotter if you ask me. Did enjoy the lunch scene where the ladies get hammered…who was that smart alecky waitress? I wonder what sort of apartment she could afford with her salary in 1962 New York…answer is of course, nothing. Two words: New Jersey.Anyway, if you went to see this movie in the theatre in 1962 as a youngish married couple, you wouldn’t likely end up in a fight over the theme…in fact you just might get some! You could have probably lit up in the theatre too!Man, those were the days.

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