‘The Glass Bottom Boat’ Blu-Ray Review – Zany Doris Day Comedy Plays Like A Live-Action Cartoon

In the latter days of her on-screen career, Doris Day (The Pajama Game, My Dream Is Yours) was still trading on her immense box office success from the 1950s as she tried to figure out how her career was going to evolve. While she would still utilize her angelic vocals in some of her roles, more and more her movies were relying on her natural comedic prowess which she would fully embrace on five seasons of The Doris Day Show. While not incredibly well known on a cultural level, the 1966 romantic comedy The Glass Bottom Boat was a pretty decent commercial hit thanks to the zany sensibilities brought by noted animation director Frank Tashlin. In this one, Day plays Jennifer Nelson, daughter of a glass-bottom boat tourist attraction owner who is first seen dressed up as a mermaid to provide a quick thrill for the passengers. Before she can do that, she gets hooked by Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor, Sunday In New York), who inadvertently leaves her half naked in the water. Unbeknownst to her, Bruce is a top executive at NASA, where she is newly employed in the public relations department. This meet-cute will soon take a wild detours as they get to know one another. 

At the most basic plot level, the story puts the two together as Jennifer is chosen by Bruce to write his biography while really just wanting an excuse to get to know her. Shady power dynamics aside, this leads to a much more outlandish plotline in which Jennifer is believed to be a Russian spy by security chief Homer Cripps (Paul Lynde, Bewitched) and various other superiors. In reality this honor belongs to a fairly fit Dom DeLuise (Spaceballs). There is never any question that Jennifer is innocent of all accusations, but her oddball behavior is grand enough to make it semi-understandable why some people would be suspicious. While the film is thin on actual plot, the animation background of Tashlin leads to many elaborate gags such as a remote-controlled speed boat that gets out of control or a prototypical robot vacuum taking on a life of its own. Even a slapstick sequence between Day and DeLuise getting tangled up in a bucket and ladder feels right out of a cartoon, which makes it a very funny bit of business.

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While the countless gags provide a steady stream of amusement, the chemistry between Day and Taylor is just as essential to the success of this film. The two have a great rapport that wins you over, and the rest of the ensemble is working on the same comedic wavelength as them. In addition to the always-hilarious Lynde, you have people such as John McGiver, Dick Martin, Arthur Godfrey and Edward Andrews making small but memorable impressions. The film also looks quite striking as it makes the most out of its Catalina Island shooting location. The only real weak spot is in the film’s runtime; the jokes mostly come fast and furious, but they do begin to get a bit tedious the closer it gets to the nearly two-hour runtime. When the film is working, it is providing a lot of laughter for audiences who enjoy watching a live-action cartoon akin to It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The film is not meant for all tastes and it is admittedly too long, but is quite enjoyable overall. 

Video Quality

Warner Archive presents The Glass Bottom Boat with a beautiful new 1080p master transfer in 2.35:1 that truly wows. Warner Archive always knocks it out of the park when they delve into their vaults, and this one is simply stunning. The film features some splendid colors within the costumes and production design that pop off the screen with a great vibrancy. The film is practically pristine with no noticeable instances of damage or dirt detected here. The level of minute detail and clarity is stunning with a lovely amount of natural film grain intact. The black levels are incredibly deep with a pleasing stability throughout. Compression artifacts, banding and other such issues do not pop up as an issue in this transfer. This presentation is another instance of Warner Archive showing off their impressive skills. 

Audio Quality

The Blu-Ray comes with a DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track that is likewise very enjoyable. Dialogue and background noises are represented perfectly along with the spritely score from Frank De Vol. There are a few musical tunes presented here that come through with a nice fidelity. There is no discernible age related wear and tear to the track such as hissing or popping. No sounds ever overpower the dialogue that is being spoken here. While mostly dialogue driven throughout, the more kinetic moments are handled with ease and give the track a bit of punch. There are also optional English (SDH) subtitles included for the feature film. Warner Archive has provided a disc that sounds fantastic in all respects. 

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Special Features

  • Catalina Island: A five-minute vintage travelog around Catalina which shows the arrival of Doris Day to this island, beautiful shots of boating and underwater life, clips from the film and more. 
  • Every Girl’s Dream: A nine-minute vintage featurette which takes you on a tour of the MGM backlot of 1966 as observed by Nancy Bernard. This piece also shows some great fashion including pieces worn in the film as modeled by Doris Day and Rod Taylor. 
  • NASA: A five-minute piece which shows Day running through some scenes at the NASA set and some of the bloopers that arose during filming. 
  • The Dot And The Line: A 10-minute award-winning MGM cartoon from Chuck Jones has been remastered and presented in beautiful high definition. The short is really incredible and well worth checking out for any fan of animation. 
  • Theatrical Trailer: The nearly three-minute trailer is provided here. 

 

Final Thoughts

The Glass Bottom Boat is a film which chooses not to play within the realm of believability as it gleefully jumps from zany situation to zany situation. Doris Day has a blast playing up her impeccable comedic timing along with developing a nice chemistry with Rod Taylor. The entire ensemble works really well together to create this live-action cartoon. Warner Archive has released a Blu-Ray featuring a fantastic A/V presentation and a nice assortment of special features. If you are a fan of the talent involved, this is an enjoyable time. Recommended 

The Glass Bottom Boat can be purchased directly through the Warner Archive Amazon Store or various other online retailers. 

Note: Images presented in this review are not reflective of the image quality of the Blu-Ray.

Disclaimer: Warner Archive has supplied a copy of this disc free of charge for review purposes. All opinions in this review are the honest reactions of the author.

 

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