A look back at this day in film history
April 21
October 7, 1959
The Talk of the Town

The comedy Pillow Talk opened in the late 50s, pitting two of that decade’s most glamorous and wholesome stars––Rock Hudson and Doris Day––in a flirty comedy of bad manners. Day plays Jan, a no-nonsense interior designer, forced to share a party line with Brad, a playboy songwriter whose dating life puts the party back in party line. Angers flare, tricks are played, and the two people who can’t stand each other find they can’t stand life without the other. The comedy went on to become one of the biggest commercial successes of the 50s, racking up five Academy Award nominations––winning for Best Original Screenplay––along the way. But Hudson initially was hesitant, fearful that the racy script could tarnish his wholesome image, and because he’d never really done comedy before. Producer Ross Hunter, who broke out Hudson in Douglas Sirk’s All That Heaven Allows, worked with director Michael Gordon to convince him. For one, Gordon showed him how to get the laughs by playing the role straight––although “straight” was complicated for the closeted gay Hudson. After the success of Pillow Talk, Hudson went on to make two similar sex romps (Lover Come Back and Send Me No Flowers) with Doris Day and Tony Randall (as well as a range of other “battle of the sexes” comedies: Man’s Favorite Sport, Strange Bedfellows, etc) But as Mark Rappaport’s art film Rock Hudson’s Home Movies highlights the inside joke of each comedy was Hudson (a gay man marketed as a straight icon) actually playing gay. In Pillow Talk, pretending to be a mamma’s-boy aesthete, a flamboyant Hudson, for example, lisps to Tony Randall, “Need a light, cowboy.”

More Flashbacks
I Walked with a Zombie April 21 ,1943
I Walked with a Zombie premieres

The title for I Walked with a Zombie was not producer Val Lewton’s first choice. In fact, it wasn’t his choice at all.

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April 21, 1930
All Quiet on the Western Front released

The anti-war movie proves a Milestone.

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