Heather Halloran (Sandra Dee) wants to live a normal life — go to college, become a secretary, maybe settle down and start a family some day.
But her overbearing mother (Celeste Holm) has other ideas. She wants Heather to be a star. Setting up shop in an elevator, Mrs. Halloran creates impromptu auditions for her daughter, forcing her to sing for every music-biz exec who comes into the elevator. This carries on for years with no success. Finally giving up on the elevator “auditions,” Heather goes to college, graduates, and gets a secretarial job working for Harlan Wycliff (George Hamilton).
Flash forward a few years and Heather has become the unwed and pregnant singer of a nightclub band. She’s being rushed to the hospital to give birth to her baby. Accompanying her to the hospital are her mother, and a gaggle of suitors who all wish to marry Heather.
How did Heather go from secretary to starlet? What happened to her job with Harlan, and who the heck is the father of her baby? Answers are revealed in 1967’s Doctor, You’ve Got to Be Kidding!, a musical rom-com directed by Peter Tewksbury.
I always enjoy watching Sandra Dee. She made this film at a difficult time in her life, as her marriage to Bobby Darin was falling apart. Her personal struggles don’t show much in her performance. There isn’t quite as much of a spark of charisma as can be seen in some of her other films, but she fills the role well.
Heather is a girl who has grown weary of her mother’s star-making schemes, but at the same time may really want to be a singer. She’s starting to buy into the hype about herself.
The story here is quite light and shallow, though the mystery element of which man Heather has fallen for is kind of fun. The characters are pretty one-dimensional, though they do successfully parody the showbiz wannabe. Heather’s circle of “friends” includes her womanizing neighbor, a small-time actor who frequently demonstrates over-dramatic death scenes, and an opportunistic singing coach. And then there’s Heather’s own mother, who is willing to re-finance the house to create a career for her daughter, regardless of Heather’s wishes.
Some of the film is a bit slowly-paced, but there are a lot of amusing scenes as well (i.e. Heather’s neighbor and mother tackling one of her other friends, thinking he’s an intruder or stalker because he fell asleep on the porch while waiting for her).
The songs are decent — not catchy ear worms that will be stuck in your head for a month after watching, but pleasant enough to listen to.
Doctor, You’ve got to Be Kidding! isn’t a great watch, but it does offer some amusing fun-poking at the fame-seeking types, and a few good songs. It’s interesting to see Sandra Dee and Celeste Holm share the screen. But, the film is nothing remarkable; there are better films to watch if you’re looking to get your Sandra Dee fix! The score: 2/5
I discovered this movie randomly one day when it aired on TCM. I had never heard of it and had no expectations going in. I found it pleasantly diverting. I really enjoyed Bill Bixby’s performance as the neighbor.