I've been using my Netflix to explore some older films. I've picked films with Cary Grant, Bette Davis, Audrey Hepburn, Katharine Hepburn, Doris Day, Jimmy Stewart, etc. A few have been really disappointing, most have been okay but not outstanding, and a few have been wonderful finds. The Philadelphia Story was a great find as well as It Happened to Jane, which I hope to get on DVD for Christmas.
But I just saw one I had to talk about. Doris Day and James Garner star in The Thrill of It All! Doris Day is a happily married housewife to James Garner, a successful OB/GYN. They have two children (the little girl you may recognize as Gretl in The Sound of Music) and a nice home in the suburbs. But everything changes when Day is asked to be a TV pitchwoman for a bar of soap, the president of the company loves her, and signs her for a one year contract. What begins as one taping a week becomes photo shoots and formal dinners and business most of the week. While Gardner runs to and from the hospital, the film does a great job examining the problems of having two parents working: schedule conflicts, not spending enough time together, time with the children, miscommunication, suspicion and a whole lot of confusion. But the film tries to take a balance of the subject. Aside from the two children, Days hobbies include all of the PTA and bottling her own ketchup. On the one hand, Day had been very happy at home prior to her career. On the other hand, few of us would be satisfied with only the PTA and bottling ketchup for personal enjoyment.
The overall message of the film seems to be that while it is understandable for moms to want an activity for personal enjoyment, self-expression and self-satisfaction, something as consuming and involving as a career takes too much of mom's time and energy away from the children, her husband, and the household in general. Yes, they got a pool and she enjoyed her career. But some days the children only saw their mother when they stayed up late to watch her on TV and Day and Garner had great difficulty finding time just to be together. The happiness of the entire family struggled.
I just thought it was, to some degree, a refreshing film that took a fairly realistic look at the reality of when both parents work, especially when one doesn't need to.
Before I get any women's lib comments, I do want to point out that this is about a married woman with two children, aged something like 5 and 8, and, no, in the film, they do not need the $80,000 she is promised for her contract.