When discussing 1960s sex comedies, there is usually a number of different films (usually starring Doris Day) that pop into your head. That Touch of Mink, Send Me No Flowers, and Lover Come Back are just a few of the many memorable films that the decade produced.
However, there’s a lesser known film that I don’t think too many classic film fans are aware of.
Boys’ Night Out is another early 60s sex comedy, but, instead of starring Doris Day and Rock Hudson, we trade them in for Kim Novak and James Garner. Released in 1962, Boys’ Night Out is a charming little movie about human relationships, or in this film’s case, the “adolescent fantasies of the adult suburban male.”
Garner stars as Fred Williams, a good, honest, single, man who is incessantly bogged down by the unpure thoughts of his three married co-workers, George, Doug and Howie played Tony Randall, Howard Duff, and Howard Morris.
One day while the quartet was having their daily post-work stop at the local watering hole, they spot their boss getting a little too cozy with a woman who wasn’t his wife. Shocked and embarrassed Fred hides his face. The other three? Not so much.
Instead of turning their heads in distress, these 3 men get an idea- a mischievous one at that. Taking inspiration from their boss, they decide to have Fred find them an apartment in the city where they could fulfill their fantasies of having an extra-marital affair.
Here’s the catch: not only do they want to lease an apartment, they also want a blonde *ahem* ‘companion’ go along with it. Fred relents and attempts to rent an apartment from a landlord named Peter Bowers, played by Jim Backus. Unfortunately, there’s another buyer who is also seeking to own this lovely suite.
Conveniently, this ‘person’ happens to be a 29-year-old, curvy, blonde named Cathy, played by Kim Novak.
She looks exactly like the woman the guys were describing earlier, but, as the movie progresses, you’ll see that appearances aren’t always everything.
Fred tries to explain that the apartment has already been paid for, but he also doesn’t want to lose out on potentially having Cathy stay here as that oh so coveted ‘companion’ that the boys discussed a few days earlier.
Fred brings up this topic with the hope that Cathy would at least consider the offer; to his surprise, she accepts the job, on the condition that she gets to live in the apartment.
The next day at work, Fred tells his friends about last night’s escapade and, naturally, they react like they found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Of course, in order to actually use this new found suite to their advantage, the guys come up with a convenient excuse to tell their wives: once a weeknight classes.
As the men get ready to rendezvous in their new apartment, Cathy, on the other hand, reveals her true intentions.
She’s actually an undercover sociology student working on her senior thesis about the “sexual fantasies of the suburban male.” Cathy then invites her professor over to discuss what she’s about to do, but he is hesitant to let her continue with her plan. Eventually, he concedes and lets Cathy do her thing.
She invites each of the men individually on separate days and records their conversations together. To get each man to open up to her, Cathy specifically targets things that their wives neglect them from doing at home. Howie gets fed the food his wife won’t allow him to have, Doug likes to fix things, and George can’t quit talking about himself.
When Fred meets with her, however, he doesn’t buy into her game. He’s pretty attracted to Cathy and is petrified by his friend’s (fake) tales about their nights with her. Disgusted by this, he refuses to spend his allotted night with her.
Ultimately, Howie, Doug and George’s wives find out about their late night get together with Cathy. To confirm this is actually happening, they hire a private with the help of Fred’s mother (played by Jessie Royce Landis).
After a few days, they finally get all the information they need to confront their husbands. A few scenes later, the wives storm Cathy’s apartment demanding answers.
When they get there, they ask their husbands if all of this is true, but the men maintain their innocence. Seeing that the situation is getting out of hand, Cathy intervenes.
She comes clean about her ‘experiment’ she was doing and apologizes for causing any harm. During that whole commotion, Fred, angered by the whole ordeal, storms out of the room. After calming the storm, Cathy frantically runs downstairs to confess to Fred what actually happened.
Luckily, she catches him right as he was heading into the elevator, but before the audience could see what transpired between the two, the doors shut. The next time we see them, the elevator doors have opened and we see the two in a tremendously tight embrace, where they’ve presumably ‘kissed and made up’.
The movie ends with all the wives and husbands (including newlyweds Fred and Cathy) gathered together at the same bar where this harebrained scheme was initially hatched; except this time, no one plans on buying an apartment.
This film is pretty great! The first time I saw it, I was a little shocked that Kim Novak would take this sort of role. She’s normally the kind of actress to take a more serious role.
But, as I researched further, I found out that her production company KIMCO were the people who financed/produced it. Because of Harry Cohn’s death in 1958, Novak‘s film offers dried up significantly. According to Rob Nixon at TCM, this movie was supposed to be the one that resurrected Novak‘s career.
Unfortunately for Novak, the movie was a critical and financial bust. On the bright side, for James Garner, it gave him a bit more publicity and subsequently propelled his career even further.
In the end, Boys Night Out is a decent film. It will definitely give you a few laughs, and the story is coherent enough for you to not get bored. Out of all the sex comedies that were released in the 1960s, this one is certain to keep your attention. If you have a few hours to spare on a Saturday night, this movie is for you.