Boys’ Night Out (1962)
Directed by Michael Gordon with a story by Arne Sultan & Marvin Worth an adaptation by Marion Hargrove and a screenplay by Ira Wallach this 1960’s style romantic comedy is lightweight fun. It stars James Garner Tony Randall Howard Duff and Howard Morris as four New York businessmen and co-commuters from Greenwich who pitch in to rent an inexpensive bachelor pad for their first & future liaisons and end up getting a high class apartment complete with a beautiful blonde played by Kim Novak. Novak’s character is a sociology graduate working on her doctorate; she plays along in order to get subject matter for her thesis about “the adolescent sexual fantasies of the adult urban male”. Garner’s character is divorced and lives with his mother (Jessie Royce Landis); Janet Blair Anne Jeffreys and Patti Page play the other men’s wives respectively. Oskar Homolka plays Novak’s professor. Other recognizable faces include Zsa Zsa Gabor William Bendix Fred Clark Jim Backus and Ruth McDevitt.
Every Thursday night bachelor Fred Williams (Gardner) spends his evening after work with three fellow commuters from Connecticut: advertising executive George Drayton (Randall) investment specialist Doug Jackson (Duff) and accountant Howard McIllenny (Morris). Each of these others have wives the latter two also have children. None of them gets any respect at home: Fred’s mother Ethel (Landis) with whom he lives pesters him about marrying again; George’s wife Marge (Blair) can complete his sentences without listening to what he’s saying; Doug’s wife Toni (Jeffreys) is the perfect housewife who’s raising perfect children and is always concerned with keeping up appearances so she won’t let him fix things around the house on weekends; and Howard’s wife Joanne (Page) feeds their three growing boys like “kings” while she forces her husband to diet with her. The men have grown bored of bowling and other activities such that they’ve been hanging out at Slattery’s (Bendix) bar on Thursdays instead. One night Fred’s boss (Larry Keating) enters to pick up a redhead he’s going to take back to his in-town apartment. This gets the bridge playing commuters to talking about setting up just such an arrangement for themselves.
Naturally Fred is elected to find the ideal place for these planned affairs. Not really wanting to be party to such an arrangement Fred takes his boss’s advice to “shop” for a place way out of their $200/month price range in order to tell his friends that he’d tried but he couldn’t find a place. Unfortunately Fred visits a pricey apartment that the manager (Backus) hasn’t been able to get rid of because a famous model (?) had committed suicide (or been murdered) in it. Backus is funny as he tries to convince Garner’s character to “take my (apartment) please”. He calls George to tell him the “good” news and instructs him to tell the others to meet him there after work. George says that the next thing they’ll need Fred to do is to arrange for a 25 year old blonde to “outfit” it. Fred refuses saying that advertising is George’s business and if he can’t figure out how himself perhaps he should put an ad in the paper. Fred starts drinking while waiting for his friends to arrive; they’re late because George didn’t believe that Fred could have found the perfect apartment for only $200. Meanwhile the doorbell rings and when Fred answers it he’s greeted by Cathy (Novak). The film’s funniest scene follows – a slightly inebriated Fred believes that Cathy has answered George’s ad and Cathy curious for her own as yet to be disclosed reasons decides to stay and then play along once she sizes up Fred’s friends.
On cloud nine the three married men enthusiastically discuss who gets which night while Fred looks uncomfortable. They also devise stories to tell each of their wives as to why they’re giving up their Thursday night with the boys but still need one night a week for creative education in their respective fields. Cathy phones her sociology professor Dr. Prokosch (Homolka) to tell him she’s figured out a way to write her thesis about men. He warns her against the danger of these men really wanting to “get physical” with her but she tells him that “good girls” like her are experts at avoiding such entrapments. Fred actually visits Cathy on Sunday to discuss his discomfort with what she’s getting herself into and the seeds of a romantic relationship between the two of them are planted. On Monday night Cathy is able to tap into George’s true desire to have someone listen to him. On Tuesday night Cathy has appliances and other household items for Howard to fix and on Wednesday night she’s cooked a dozen things for Howard to eat. Hence she maintains platonic relationships with each of them and they’re too scared to admit to the others that “nothing happened”. McDevitt plays a nosy neighbor who thinks she lives next door to a brothel. Obviously she sees and hears (innuendo) more than what’s going on which she reports to her husband (not credited).
Meanwhile the wives are happy with their husbands “out of the blue” shows of affection until Ethel tells them that their men are probably being “skunks”. She recommends that they hire a private detective Mr. Bohannon (Clark) to learn the truth which they do. Fred is struggling with his feelings for Cathy given the kind of girl he thinks she is and commiserates with Slattery. Dr. Prokosch suspects that Cathy is enamored with Fred and also suggests that she interview the men’s wives to get “both sides of the pillow” for her thesis. Bohannon investigates. Fred eventually figures out what he wants and finds out that Cathy wants him as well. He invites her to Greenwich where he’s the little league baseball coach of his friend’s kids. This sticky situation leads to an eventual showdown with everything coming to a head in the zaniest of ways at the apartment with all the major characters and a couple of the minor ones. The resolution is predictable. The final scene includes Ms. Gabor as Fred’s boss’s latest squeeze.