"Caprice" debuted to throngs of loyal, adoring Day fans and, in contrast to some of the reviews, the audiences clearly enjoyed the film. It was by no means a perfect movie and a wiser director than Frank Tashlin, would have edited out some of the 'cuteness' which was the main element of Day's persona that was under attack. Without those components, "Caprice" would have been a smart and well-received spy spoof.
Chosen to co-star with Miss Day was one of Ireland's most distinguished actors, Richard Harris. He, like Rod Taylor, James Garner and Stephen Boyd elevated their film careers by sharing the screen with the world's most popular actress. Garner has commented that "to appear with Doris Day could make your career". Harris was the latest foreign actor to grace the screen with her. She had previously acted with David Niven (England), Louis Jourdan (France), Rex Harrison (England) and Rod Taylor (Australia).
"Caprice" begins dramatically with an exciting ski chase down the slopes in Switzerland, ending in the murder of an Interpol agent on the trail of narcotics smugglers. Doris Day plays Patricia Fowler, the agent's daughter who is out to find the person who killed her father.
The script is convoluted and confusing on first viewing. Fowler is working as an agent for Femina Cosmetics and hired to steal secret formulas from a rival firm, May Fortune. Ray Walston plays, Stuart Clancy, a copycat cosmetician who worked unsuccessfully for Femina, but is now being touted as a genius with May Fortune. Sir Jason Fox (Edward Mulhare), his former employer, knows that Clancy could not be creating new 'miracle drugs' (for instance, a water repellent hair spray) and wants to find out who is actually behind him. This is Patricia's assignment. A double agent, Christopher White (Harris) is employed by both Sir Jason and Matthew Cutter (Jack Kruschen), owner of May Fortune, but in reality is a Federal Agent! Somewhere in all of this, drugs are being smuggled via some 'harmless' face powder, and Patricia Fowler becomes 'the girl who found out too much'. There is much, much more!
Confused? I was on first and second viewing. Finally, after the film came out on video, I had the luxury of stopping the tape, rewinding, listening again and finally figuring out this confusion. Doris Day gives a highly spirited, professional performance and is very attractive in mod attire, created by Ray Aghayan. Richard Harris stated that he learned more about comedy from Doris than he could have learned in four years at the Royal Academy. What a compliment! They worked well together and both handled the slapstick with aplomb. Their most exciting predicament was a cliff-hanger in which Christopher, in a helicopter, rescues Patricia while she is being chased down the same slopes on which her father was murdered, by a skier with a site rifle! Pure Pearl White.
Watching Miss Day is a study in great movie acting. Her scene on the private jet with Edward Mulhare and the one where she visited his home were particularly effective. Ray Walston must have loved his scenes with her, especially the one where he was in drag, disguised as a cleaning woman and when he gave her his maniacal cosmetics demonstration. Very funny.
As usual, the supporting cast was strong. Lilia Skala as Mme. Piasco, the real 'cosmetics genius' was interesting in her scene with Miss Day and Michael J. Pollard was appropriately weird in the movie theatre scene where he tried to molest Patricia. The theatre incidentally was showing Doris Day and Richard Harris in "Caprice", a nice Tashlin touch. Other familiar faces included Larry D. Mann, Fritz Feld, and Muriel Landers (the fat girl in "Pillow Talk"). Shot in colour and CinemaScope, this picture is not as dismal as is often reported. With a few minor cuts, it can rank, entertainment-wise, nearly as high as Day's most successful movies.
I firmly believe that if "Caprice" had been re-edited and partially rewritten, it would have been a much better film and maybe could have escaped the scathing criticism it has received over the years. I rather enjoyed it, anyway. Watching Doris Day is always a pleasure and I think she gave a polished, professional performance. As a student of film acting, one must take particular scenes and judge THEM on their individual merit, especially with a picture like this. Day was wonderful in most of her scenes.
Ralph McKnight, New York, June 2000.
"Stay With The Happy People" ♫ ♪♫
“Caprice…is a whim”
I know you posted this photo already BARBARA, but it's so iconic to the film I thought it deserved a second look. BTW, Thank you for starting this film discussion. I've wanted to talk about it for a while, but I've been ill off and on for a while now.
Okay, now to my review of "Caprice".
Before I watched this film, I had heard it was bad…as in the worst film Doris ever made. I’m glad to find that wasn’t the case, in my opinion. The Fashion is FABULOUS and I’m thrilled that Doris surrendered to the stylized, high fashion Mod look that was popular then, in the ‘60s. Sometimes the fashion might have overshadowed the story, but it’s a decent plot. It’s great to see Richard Harris in something funny and I was happy that Doris knew who he was before she worked with him. I love when she turns to the movie theater that says "Caprice" starring her. hehe Doris was in on the joke. ;)
"I think Doris is a very sexy lady who doesn't know how sexy she is. That's the integral part of her charm. Beautiful Doris with that fantastic body, all sweetness and charm up front, and that turns people on, and I don't think she could have had the success she's had if she didn't have this sexy whirlpool frothing around underneath her All-American-girl exterior."
"...she was the Fred Astaire of comedy."
"Making a movie with Doris was a piece of cake---a sexy ride on her coattails all the way.
~James Garner R.I.P.
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