|David Niven and Doris Day|
Kate MacKay (Doris Day) and her husband, Larry (David Niven of Enchantment) are raising four adorable if rambunctious boys and planning a move to the country. Larry, a professor of drama, is made a theater critic for a top newspaper. In a contrived event, he is assigned to review his best friend, Alfred's (Richard Hadyn), new musical, and not only slams it, but prints that the leading lady, Deborah Vaughn (Janis Paige of This Side of the Law), has no talent. This leads into amusing encounters between Larry and Deborah as well as an opportunity for Alfred to get a kind of revenge on Larry. Meanwhile Kate is worried that her husband is turning into the kind of justifiably-abhorred critic who is more interested in making clever jokes at a playwright's expense than in writing serious and fair-minded theater reviews. If you take some of the improbable developments (they move into a house that resembles a castle) with a grain of salt, Please Don't Eat the Daisies is a delightful comedy, with the two leads in top form. Day and Niven work very well together and seem to be having as much fun as the audience. Some of the critical words that come out of the mouth of Doris' mother make her seem like a monster, but the casting of sweet Spring Byington makes her character more palatable. Patsy Kelly plays the housekeeper but isn't given much of a chance to shine, although Hadyn scores as the angry Alfred, and Paige is just wonderful and very sexy as Deborah. Jack Weston is also fine as a taxi-driving wannabee playwright, and Kathryn Card of I Love Lucy appears briefly as a principal. The business with the baby being kept in a locked cage would raise eyebrows today and frankly makes little sense. (The rationale is that he can pick locks, but wouldn't that include the locks on his cage?) Please Don't Eat the Daises -- the title comes from a reference to one of the boys eating flowers -- is based on a novel by Jean Kerr, a playwright who was married to Walter Kerr, best-known as a theater critic for the N.Y. Times; the couple had six children. Doris does a reprise of "Que sera, sera" from The Man Who Knew Too Much and also nicely warbles the title tune and "Anyway the Wind Blows."
Verdict: Very amusing and well-acted comedy with an especially winning Day. ***.