Please Don't Eat the Daises (1960) - Doris Day

Free love, hippies and substance abuse may dominate popular ideas of the 1960s, but the culture that they countered was still around and held sway at the box office. With the fall of the studio system and of morality offices and their film codes, this decade saw expansion in topics to be explored in the movies.

These more risque films ran side by side with traditional family movies at the cinema. Consequently, this is also the decade which saw the rise of the MPAA rating system in 1968. Filmmakers could still make any movie they wanted and families could have a rough idea of the content of a film before little Johnny would have an eyeful of something his parents did not want him to see.

One of the brightest lights of both worlds in the 1960s was Doris Day. She could play in a sex farce as the sophisticated, single working lady who doesn't want to be just another notch in some guy's bedpost. The actress could also play the married lady with traditional values who loves all things family-oriented.

One of her best in the latter category is Please Don't Eat the Daises (1960). The biggest problem for Kate McKay (Day) in this film seems to be moving the family from the city to the country on short notice. Just when you're thinking this is another Meet Me In St. Louis plot where all their troubles aren't really troubles, another theme is introduced.

Kate's husband Larry McKay (David Niven) must now commute from the country to his job in the city. He's away from his wife more often and is sorely tempted to be unfaithful by a persistent actress - Deborah Vaughn (Janis Paige).

It's also a tale about Larry's increasing snobbery with his change in jobs from theater professor to theater critic. Broadway plays close at the stroke of his pen. The power is intoxicating and Kate has no qualms sticking a pin to her husband's inflated ego. The tension mounts.

It is because the connection between Larry and Kate is so believable, the audience understands that Larry is potentially abandoning everything of value to him. Though this film is couched in the guise of a fluff family comedy with detours into kids pranks and mayhem (including eating daisies), its central premise is a riveting tale every bit as serious as the problems of the Revenals in the drama Showboat, for instance.

Please Don't Eat the Daises is based on a the best-selling book of humorous essays by Jean Kerr. Hollywood scores points for putting some bite into the source material.


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