As an English professor in California, Bruce Patterson (Terry-Thomas) is a very exotic creature to the locals - he's not a professor of English, he's a professor of archaeology who happens to hail from the British Isles, and that accent seems to drive the women wild. When he's not teaching at the university, he's living in his beach apartment alongside the chap who stays in a caravan outside the property, Mike Pulaski (Richard Beymer), but news has gotten around that Patterson is getting married, and it's true: he's engaged to Helen Bushmill (Celeste Holm). What she hasn't told him is that she has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship, Libby (Tuesday Weld) - and Libby's coming to stay.
Terry-Thomas beating off the women with a stick? Or his umbrella, at any rate? That was the biggest joke in Bachelor Flat, except not quite in the way director Frank Tashlin would have desired. You could just about imagine Cary Grant in the role, though even in 1962 he was getting on a bit, but this was one curious item of casting no matter how much you took into account the script, based on Bud Grossman's play, needed about the most English Englishman around to fit the bill, and our man was that with no mistake. That said, no matter how you painted him, Terry-Thomas was more of a caricature than anything resembling a romantic lead, and it sure did show when he tried this.
Thankfully, that reserve in his character didn't have him skirt-chasing throughout, as he was more reticent and befuddled when it came to all this feminine attention, which offered more opportunities for humour yet also more opportunities to agree with Patterson and share his bemusement that he should be seen as some potential stud. We should also be thankful Libby showed no interest in him and was more caught up with the potential Mike provided, but there was another weird aspect, that he and the professor would ever be best buddies in the first place. Given this was like watching a Beach Party instalment with the roles recast, or a prototype at any rate, they might as well have had the English gent grab a surfboard and catch some waves.
Tashlin's comedy sensibilities always leaned towards the cartoonish, and various incidental gags were what he was evidently more comfortable with than the romantic complications: bits like the Patterson-obsessed Francesca Bellini trying to eat cake while lying on a vibrating bed raised genuine laughs for their absurdity, and the impression was more Tashlin, credited as co-writer with Grossman, had thought up a bunch of jokes and was forced to apply them to the kind of farce that would be better with slamming doors and lost trousers on the stage. Indeed, there was something very British about the way such things played out, making it more appropriate that Terry-Thomas was present, in the way that importing a star from across the Pond had made the filmmakers aspire to the level of a Brian Rix effort.
But in 1962, all eyes were on Tuesday. She was eighteen when she made this, and at the height of her pin-up popularity; that enormous pressure would do her no good as the years went on, but you'd never know it from this, as she may not have gotten much to do within her range, but she obviously enjoyed pretending to be a juvenile delinquent when Libby shows up and makes life difficult for Patterson, albeit for reasons which could be quickly cleared up should anyone have sat down and straightened it all out. Oddly, Holm hardly featured, preparing to fly in to California and having a near-encounter with an artist (uncredited Stephen Bekassy), though she made it in the end, leaving such silliness as Mike's dachshund Jessica (who receives prominent billing) attempting to make off with the professor's huge dinosaur bone he has uncovered and wishes to examine more thoroughly. Really this was about as frothy as they got, and Tashlin cultists may be let down at its conventionality, but it was colourful, hard to believe and easy to watch. Music by John Williams.
American director whose films were heavily influenced by his years spent working in cartoons. In his 20s and 30s, Tashlin worked at both Disney and Warner Brothers in their animation studios, before moving into comedy scriptwriting in the late 1940s, on films like Bob Hope's The Paleface. Tashlin moved into directing popular live-action comedies soon after, with Hope in Son of Paleface, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis in Artists and Models and Hollywood or Bust, and most notably Jayne Mansfield in The Girl Can't Help It and Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? These films were full of inventive, sometimes surreal touches, and used many of the techniques Tashlin had learnt as an animator. Continued to work during the sixties, but without the success of the previous decade.