That Touch Of Mink (1962) Directed by Delbert Mann
I could laugh at the old-fashioned attitudes towards women and homosexuality that pervade That Touch Of Mink. I could point at the fact that the picture's main obsession is sex and how to get it and how naive that seems now. But then I could tell you about what I read was happening today: the pop star Rihanna taking her clothes off in a field for her new video and how interested we are in that. Or how I read a Tweet today by RuPaul that declared "Homosexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one". Or could I point out to you that as I write this, American Amanda Knox is being tried for murder in Italy and during the trial has been compared to a witch (you know, the medieval variety) with multiple personalities. So in 2011, I can attest that we have really moved on from the old fashioned sentiments of That Touch Of Mink and will view That Touch Of Mink's mild homophobia and sexism is so beneath us as to be disdainful.
In reality, the kind of film that That Touch Of Mink represents is being made regularly in 2011(with he same attitudes) and will appear at a cine-plex near you very soon. The modern version will invariably star Jennifer Aniston as an approaching-middle-aged-woman, unmarried and looking for the incredibly wealthy and suave Mr Right (erm, Ralph Fiennes perhaps?) Sounds like a regular idea for a movie, yes? It's just that That Touch Of Mink stars Cary Grant and Doris Day, and is a star vehicle for actors who are effortless. No complications or depth in analysis needed here.
Grant retired a few years after That Touch Of Mink and Day didn't make so many more films after this either. They are easy on the eye and ear. Professional. Mann directs like the TV journeyman he really was. This film is in many ways pointless but I still laughed out loud at a couple of gags. Doris Day really is the Queen of soft focus and Cary Grant still is the best looking man to grace a cinema screen. Light nonsense with a touch of class.
It's all about sex. Unbelievably so, the whole point of That Touch of Mink is the yearning to have sex and the social obstacles on the path to the bunk. Isn't it annoying when the woman wants to be married first? Isn't it funny that men get nervous too, about the first time (even Cary Grant it appears). I guess it might have been back in 1962. Now it's just silly. What could be a film about class and about the power that money brings, a satire of sorts, is finally only a comedy about the extent to which these people have to go to get some. Sex.
From the perspective of Wednesday, the 28th of September 2011 it is refreshing to remember that obsession with getting laid is not something new, something rotten poisoning the minds of us internet-housed cyborgs. We have been sex-crazy forever. At least for the last 150-something years, if Foucault is to be consulted.
That Touch of Mink is a little sinister still. It suggests that rather than being about love, hetero relationships are a transaction – money-for-your-eggs kind of thing. The most terrifying thing of all is that when the film ends with a little baby being pushed in a pram – the happy result of Doris and Cary finally making it to bed – I smile contently. Yuck.