Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day) is an unemployed computer worker who on the rainy day she has an interview is splashed with mud on the New York streets by a passing limousine. She is outraged, but takes it as yet another example of the bad luck that befalls her, though what she doesn't know is that the man who was being driven in the vehicle is millionaire Philip Shayne (Cary Grant) who is most upset that the accident occurred, so sends his personal assistant Roger (Gig Young) to seek her out and make amends. The trouble with that is he has to track her down first, easier said than done, until as luck would have it he notices her walking into the automat across the street from their offices...
By all rights That Touch of Mink should have been an addition to the collection of Doris Day and Rock Hudson romantic comedies, but the director Delbert Mann was keen to cast Cary Grant as the leading man and he got his wish, though in truth it was difficult not to notice that by 1962 both he and Day were getting a little long in the tooth to be playing these roles as written, i.e. for a younger couple. Still, audiences of the day had little trouble ignoring that issue and embraced the chance to watch two such seasoned pros at this genre teaming up, but there remained something that didn't quite click with their combination; Grant was a shade too reserved, and Day was not an obvious choice for his character.
They were not bad performances by any means, it's just that Grant, who reputedly was not a fan of the finished film though by this stage he was seriously considering his retirement anyway, may have come across as superficially charming and secured a few chuckles from some well-delivered quips, but his heart seemed to be elsewhere. You were never convinced Philip was going to be anything except the wealthy playboy, and that his disinterest in marriage was anything but sincere, which rendered his supposed thawing to the influence of an often klutzy Cathy curiously artificial to witness playing out on the screen. Couple that with the obvious sets (the Bermuda scenes were particularly dodgy) and this was far from the most accomplished in its form.
Perhaps the trouble was that lack of Hudson, who would have fitted the Philip role like a glove and made the most of the lightly saucy script which Grant was too past his prime to take advantage of. When the businessman finally gets Cathy up to his office and has sent her dress to be specially cleaned, he is supposed to be captivated by her presence, yet Day had settled into her prim and daffy mode many movies before, so she and Grant were not a great match. The approach to wealth was a strange one too: Cathy is jobless and poor, Philip has everything he ever wanted, but that everything didn't include a steady relationship, and the way he mildly demands anything he wishes for be achieved by his staff, most overtly the harassed Roger, spoke to an entitlement the film failed to explore.
Well, not too much at least, Philip does get a comeuppance of sorts, but that is because he has made the mistake of falling for a woman which he has never done before. To make this comedically successful Grant should have been more of a rake, but he didn't try the character that way, preferring to keep him urbane and, let’s face it, safe. By this stage in his career he wasn't taking any more chances and it's true enough that a Doris Day comedy was not the place to do so anyway, though this did leave the two leads slightly overshadowed by the actors playing their best friends. Young was basically doing his best Tony Randall, and doing it rather well, while Cathy's pal was played by Audrey Meadows, star of TV's The Honeymooners, who was essaying a woman deeply suspicious of Philip but continually mistaking him for Roger in a running joke that saw the masochistic assistant roundly abused. See, there were opportunities for this to be subversive, but the most we got was Roger's psychiatrist believing he was homosexual. Not that this was a disaster by any means, everyone was too professional for that, and it had its moments, it was just that it could have been a lot more.