Please Don’t Eat The Daisies (1960)

Sixty years ago today, the film Please Don’t Eat The Daisies premiered. It is a hilarious feel-good Doris Day film at the height of the mid-century coolness. You have to see this film.

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Title: Please Don’t Eat The Daisies
Directed by: Charles Walters
Produced by: Joe Pasternak
Screenplay by: Isobel Lennart
Based on: Please Don’t Eat The Daisies, 1957 essays by Jean Kerr
Starring: Doris Day, David Niven, Janis Paige, Richard Haydn, Spring Byington
Music by: David Rose
Cinematography: Robert J. Bronner
Edited by: John McSweeney Jr.
Production company: Euterpe Inc.
Distributed by: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date: March 31, 1960 (Radio City Music Hall)
Running time: 112 min
Budget: $1,775,000
Box office: $7,050,000

Professor Lawrence Mackay (David Niven) and his wife Kate (Doris Day) are struggling with four young sons in a tiny two-bedroom apartment in New York City. Months before, they had announced their intention to move to a larger apartment, but have not been able to find one. Meanwhile, their lease has expired and the landlord has rented out their apartment to someone who insists they vacate immediately. They decide to look for a house in the country, but the only thing they can afford is a run-down mansion complete with secret panels and trap doors, 70 miles away by train in fictional Hooton. They have no choice but to move in and start fixing it up.

In the midst of the moving chaos, Larry has left his professorship at the university to become a drama critic for a major New York paper. His first assignment is to review the new show produced by his best friend, Alfred North (Richard Haydn). The show is awful, and Larry’s review is especially hard on the show’s star, Deborah Vaughn (Janis Paige), who gets her revenge by hiring a press photographer to capture her slapping Larry’s face at Sardi’s. This publicity stunt, along with Larry’s published response, makes Larry the toast of the town. Kate and Larry are suddenly invited to society parties and hobnobbing with the rich and famous, which begins to go to Larry’s head. With the hammering and builders at home, Larry decides to stay in a hotel in the city for a few weeks, leaving Kate to organize the new house.

Back home, Kate tries her best to manage the four children and fit into their new community. When asked by the local dramatic society to find them an original play for their next production, Kate turns to Alfred. Alfred, seeing a chance for a bit of revenge of his own, gives them a terrible play written by a young Lawrence Mackay — with an altered title and fictitious playwright listed on the cover. Alfred then secretly invites all of the major New York critics to review the play. Larry finds out and has a huge fight with Kate, blaming her for his professional embarrassment. He refuses to allow the show to go on. Kate insists it’s too late for the Hooton Holler Players to get another show ready, so Larry reluctantly allows them to proceed, publishing his own review of the show before opening night.

Not to be left out, Deborah Vaughn decides to strike up a close, personal friendship with Larry, flattering him seductively. Kate’s mother Suzie Robinson (Spring Byington) urges her to get Larry back before it’s too late. Kate and Larry make up and return to their country home in time for one of the boys to drop a water bomb on them from an upstairs window.

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