If a Man Answers Comes on TV, Change the Channel!

Though I liked Sandra Dee, some of her comedies just don’t hold up. Case in point, the comedy If a Man Answers (1962). Though producer Ross Hunter seriously considered Nancy Kwan for the role, Sandra Dee is perfectly cast as a husband trapping coed in this irritating comedy. Basic premise of the movie is how inexperienced college girl Dee traps herself a man and then learns how to hold and change him with advice from her know-it-all Parisian mother Micheline Presle, an ex-dancer in the Folies Bergere. She professes to be an expert on ensnaring a man based on how she landed Dee’s American papa John Lund.

After the family moves from Boston to New York, Dee’s college aspiration are long forgotten and she now majors in putting the full court press on playboy fashion photographer Bobby Darin. Once she entraps him and they are wed, Dee becomes jealous of all the beautiful models her husband works with including miscast Stefanie Powers shrill as her snooty friend from Boston.

Dee then tries to change randy Darin into the perfect husband following her mama’s arrogant advice via a book on training him like you would a dog! When that backfires thanks to big mouthed drunken Powers, mama advises her daughter to create a fake lover named Robert Swan like she did years ago when feeling neglected. Darin gets his revenge when his father comes to town pretending he is the fictional lover unnerving Dee. All works out for the obligatory happy ending. Dee is perky and charming and looks fabulous in her chic wardrobe, but the movie is unfunny and hopelessly dated with cringe-inducing scenes of Presle giving marital advice none of which is just speaking truthfully to your spouse. Typical romantic comedy from the period aimed at teenage girls preaching to them that they should only strive to trap themselves a husband and then play tricks and games to keep your man in line. For their sakes, hopefully teenage boys from the period hated this piece of dreck and stayed away. Teenage girls obviously didn’t and the movie was a major box office hit.


Comments: 4

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  • James Scott

    You’re right, this movie stunk. It was like a poor version of the Doris day/Rock Hudson sex comedies minus the comedy. Bobby Darin tried hard to break into movies. Never made it.

    • Yes poor Bobby Darin. He did though score an Oscar nod for Captain Newman, MD.

  • Michael

    You are so right. This was another Ross Hunter / Universal production that favored high end fashion, glamour, and set design over smarts and originality. The storyline is downright offensive in the way the mother teaches Dee to train Darin like a pet dog. I always thought Dee was winning and natural on screen although she could be a bit cute at times. Regarding Powers – I think I probably like her more than you do – but again, her role was a product of the times in that there had to a bad girl rival to make the good girl jealous. Dee apparently had so many personal demons and perhaps poor management that she wasn’t able find a breakthrough opportunity after Universal dropped her in 1967. Too bad because I always liked her.

    • I too like Sandra Dee and she had such a charming quality about her. However, she was so typecast as Miss Purity that when the 60s revolted she was considered so square that it really ended her film career. Hip young people had no interest in her and unlike Tuesday Weld, Carol Lynley, Yvette Mimieux, Sue Lyon, Pamela Tiffin, etc. she was never able to make the jump to more adult roles.

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