August 18, 2011

Pillow Talk, 2.0!

by Chris Varaste

I’d never watched the romantic comedy Pillow Talk starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson so I ordered the DVD after seeing the terrific new Barbie® Collector giftset.

Before the film arrived, I tuned in to some serious modern-day romance—caught a healthy dose of hysteria (Bridesmaids), shocking revelations (The Bachelorette), and crocodile tears (The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills), but romance?

Reality bit the dust when Pillow Talk arrived, and I was transported back to late ’50s glittering Manhattan, set in motion by the pitch-perfect repartee of the game cast. Girl meets guy. He’s a heel. Guy falls for girl and learns the error of his ways. For years, Hollywood has relied on this tried-and-true formula, with Pillow Talk being one of the best examples. How many takes and edits did it take to make it appear so effortlessly clever?

In this artificial world, I got the warm-fuzzies from a good-time romp, knowing I was shielded from icky sight gags and off-color humor. Watching sparks fly between the two leads, I realized why Pillow Talk retains its currency as great cinema (and not just because it’s shot in CinemaScope). After 52 years, the film succeeds due to the demands placed on cast and crew for larger-than-life perfection. Granted, sets, costumes and lighting elevate the production, but behind the façade, there had to be blood, sweat and tears to make it work so well.

Released in 1959, the same year as another stunning bestseller — wink, wink — the film never shows its age. Now a giftset requested by Barbie® collectors, the film’s attractive stars are perfectly realized in miniature, thanks to talented sculptor Ray Cavalluzzi and gifted designer Linda Kyaw’s amazing costume reproductions.

Lesson learned? Barbie® collectors have great taste — when reality no longer feels fresh, lose yourself in the sterling, designed-within-a-square-inch-of-itself grandeur of films like Pillow Talk!

Which film from Hollywood’s Golden Age would you love to see as a giftset?


Chris Varaste started out at ABC-TV, producing segments for the Emmys, Tonys & Grammys. A fascination with fashion and pop culture led to his first published book, Barbie: Face of the American Dream – and an appreciation for all things Barbie! His insights on collectibles/brand success have been published in the New York Times, The Economist, and Spotlight Cinema Networks.

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