You can sense the apprehension in Doris Day about playing any of this material, and her ability to commit to this kind of material and play it to perfection is central to making any of it work. But it’s not like that’s the only problem plaguing Do Not Disturb. From a too dour leading man to the fact that none of it is funny to a pervading sense that this type of vehicle for Day was growing stale and moldy fast, Do Not Disturb is an immediately forgettable and minor work from an underrated talent.
Doris Day and Rod Taylor play a married couple who relocate to England, where they begin to experience marital problems. Mainly, Day thinks Taylor is having an affair with his secretary, and he thinks she slept with a sleazy antiques dealer. More zaniness ensues before the truth comes out, the couple happily reunites, and we fade out as it is presumed they have makeup sex.
That’s a perfectly fine premise for a Doris Day farce, but the execution is all wrong. Rod Taylor’s a great actor in dramatic material, but he appears adrift with the kookier approach required of this material. In contrast, Day plays a lot of the material too cutesy, or gives a routinely polished performance that we’d seen several times by now. A bevy of supporting players amount to bit parts, and a series of gags play out like rejects from I Love Lucy. There’s no fire, no believable romantic chemistry or anxiety, and the lone joke that lands is the sight of a glamorous looking Day trying to shimmy and shake at a convention surrounded by businessmen and their mistresses.
There’s nothing wrong with a typically fizzy and lightweight Day production, they’re deceptively hard to get right and indelible when they are. It’s just that Do Not Disturb was made against Day’s wishes as her then-husband signed her up for the production without her consent or input, and trooper that she was, she made it anyway. Would you be shocked to learn that Day signaled this one out as one of her least favorite films in her autobiography? It shows on the screen, which is an incredibly rare occurrence for a consummate pro like Day.