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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » That Touch of Mink
That Touch of Mink
Artisan // Unrated // January 23, 2001
List Price: $14.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Holly E. Ordway | posted December 9, 2001 | E-mail the Author
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Some older movies stand the test of time, becoming true classics; others gain a bit of curiosity value as a window into the filmmaking of years past. Others... well, some movies just don't age very well, and I'm afraid that That Touch of Mink falls squarely into the "too dated" category.

That Touch of Mink is a comedy whose humor relies heavily on the viewers sharing certain cultural assumptions that may have been current in 1962 but, fortunately, don't hold true now. Doris Day plays Cathy Timberlake, an unemployed computer technician whose chance encounter with Mr. Shane, a rich, unmarried tycoon (Cary Grant) sparks romance. After a whirlwind night of wining and dining, Shane invites Cathy along for a round-the-world cruise... as his companion, but not as his wife. She's enchanted by him (or at least by his money, though I think in the movie we're supposed to think that it's true love), but if she accepts his invitation, she'll become a fallen woman. How can she trap him into marriage without losing her honor? O, the comedic tension.

To be honest, not only did I not laugh during That Touch of Mink, I didn't even crack a smile. My reaction ranged from puzzlement (as in, "I think this scene is supposed to be funny, but I don't get it") to boredom, to actual repulsion.

There are several scenes in the film that, I think, play very differently indeed to a modern viewer than they were intended. For instance, at one point Cathy ends up in a Bermuda hotel room with Shane; though she enjoyed their day together, she really doesn't want to sleep with him. Nonetheless, she apparently feels that she's obligated to, in "payment" for his taking her out. The scene in which he begins to make advances on her while she practically grits her teeth to force herself to stay put, made my hair practically stand on end. It gets worse. She's "saved" through no deliberate action of her own: at one point she gets sick because of her nervousness, and at another point, she begins drinking to steel herself for the upcoming bedroom encounter... and unintentionally gets completely drunk. Apparently, the sight of her being falling-down drunk is supposed to be funny, as well. Methinks that the popular conceptions of "rape" and "responsible drinking" have shifted considerably over the past forty years, because I felt uncomfortable, not amused.

Another central premise of the film that doesn't quite click is the "rich man, poor girl" dynamic that drives much of the plot. We're pointedly shown that Cathy is unemployed, but she's well-dressed (or seems that way to me; maybe her clothes were unfashionable by 1962 standards), she shares a nice apartment with a friend, and while she is supposedly looking for a job, she's quite unconcerned about missing a job interview when she has the chance to go out on a date with Shane. But then we're apparently supposed to be impressed, along with her, at his wealth... and certainly we do get several scenes of her oohing and aahing with goggling eyes at examples of his conspicuous consumption. The result, though, is just to point up the shallowness of her character. There's never any indication in the movie that she actually is in love with the man, rather than his wealth and prestige.

Perhaps at this point in their careers, Grant and Day could be sure that any of their films would do well at the box office on star power along; certainly, neither of them seems to be putting much effort into their actual performances in That Touch of Mink. Grant is particularly lackluster, coming across as lifeless for the most part, except for scenes that require him to get excited and wave his arms around... though those scenes aren't any more convincing than the others.

Video

Artisan missed the boat completely on the tranfer of this film. The transfer is non-anamorphic, but even worse, the image has been cropped from its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio to 1.85:1! (Yet the back cover claims that this is the original aspect ratio!) What was Artisan thinking? This is the "Cary Grant Collection." Surely that deserves a little bit of attention to making the film both anamorphic and, at least, the correct aspect ratio.

Overall, the DVD quality is quite disappointing. The lack of anamorphic enhancement is noticeable in jagged instead of clean edges, and in a general lack of clarity, especially visible, for instance, in the credits. The image is also moderately noisy, which contributes to the fuzziness of the image. Print flaws also pop up throughout the film, including a persistent, heavy vertical line on the left-hand side of the image. The colors are normally OK, but very bright colors tend to look excessively garish, such as some red and orange clothing and furniture.

Audio

The DVD soundtrack is a serviceable Dolby 2-channel mono, with reasonably good fidelity. It's nothing to write home about, but the dialogue is generally perfectly clear. I did notice a slightly muffled quality to the overall sound in some scenes.

Extras

There's not much to report here: just a trailer and cast and crew information.

Final thoughts

The Artisan DVD release of That Touch of Mink is for Cary Grant or Doris Day completists only... and even then, only for ones who don't object to a cropped image. In general, viewers are advised to skip over this one: a flat, unfunny film in a lackluster DVD presentation.
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