If a Man Answers
If a Man Answers (1962) is a comedy film directed by Henry Levin and starring Bobby Darin and Sandra Dee. It was produced by Ross Hunter Productions, Inc, and distributed by Universal Pictures. The screenplay was written by Richard Morris from a novel by Winifred Wolfe.
Chantal Stacy (Dee) is a young woman from a rich, bourgeoisie family. An important element in Chantal's character is her background; while her mother, Germaine Stacy (Micheline Presle), is a flamboyant, fun-loving dancer from Paris, her father, John Stacy (John Lund), is a strictly conservative and straight-edged businessman from Boston. Due to their fly-by-night marriage in Paris during one of John Stacy's business trips - as Chantal calls it, a "souffle-and-beans romance" - Chantal is born. She is a mix of the two entities. At the beginning of the movie, it is revealed that many of her encounters with males have been cut short on account of her Boston background; a loud Boston foghorn is heard before she can interact intimately with any male.
Though Chantal is constantly engaged in casual relationships on account of her exotic beauty, she is still single at the beginning of the film, despite the fact that all of her male partners would readily marry her. John Stacy is eternally worried for his daughter; the fact that she remains unmarried arouses many fears in him, and causes him to be suspicious of any of her interactions with young men. Therefore, after the family moves to New York City and when Chantal is employed as a model by a photographer named Eugene Wright (Darin) on Fifth Avenue, her father is outraged. Eventually, however, Chantal's mother, a veteran of romance full of priceless French wisdom, convinces her husband that too much involvement in Chantal's love affairs might result in catastrophe. Thus, Chantal, with the aid of her mother's advice, is able to marry Eugene; after a series of playful interactions, Eugene is practically forced to propose, beginning the hilarious story of their marriage.
Early on in their marriage, Chantal is reunited with one of her college friends, whose name is Tina, played by Stephanie Powers. Having obviously come to New York as a mischief-maker, Tina immediately gains the attention of Chantal's husband while in her apartment. Impressed by her glamor, Eugene requests that she work for him as a model in his photography studio. Their relationship, though newly established, bears blatant and teasingly romantic overtones, causing a good deal of distress for Chantal. Fortunately, her mother is able to offer a solution to the problem: she suggests that Chantal adapt the strategies of a dog-trainer toward Eugene, giving her daughter a detailed training booklet for canines. Though Chantal is shocked and incredulous at first, her desperation ultimately leads her to accept the book and follow her mother's advice.
The book works like a charm for Chantal; after having used it for several weeks, Eugene seems to have suddenly transformed into the ideal husband, obeying her every wish and providing her with complete romantic satisfaction. When discussing the change with her mother, Chantal undergoes the revelation that the training has actually been intended for her. She realizes that her change of perspective has led to a happy and enjoyable marriage, and is truly impressed by her mother's unique sense of wisdom. However, Chantal soon encounters trouble; Tina makes an unexpected visit to her apartment and reveals to Chantal that she is tragically lonely and madly envious of Chantal's marital harmony. In the midst of her emotional collapse, Tina pleads that Chantal reveal her methods. Though Chantal is reluctant, Tina eventually extracts the dog-training secrets from her friend, and despite having been warned by Chantal that it may seem strange, Tina hysterically laughs and mocks Chantal's secret. When Eugene returns home, Tina takes advantage of the situation; through a series of pestering jokes, she reveals Chantal's secret to Eugene, much to the chagrin of Chantal. As a result, Eugene is furious. Humiliated and enraged, he once again begins neglecting his wife, beginning a difficult spot in their marriage.
Not surprisingly, however, Chantal's mother is able to provide a solution. She explains to Chantal that the best way to regain her husband's attention is by creating an imaginary 'lover' to make Eugene jealous and suspicious. Having used this tactic in her own marriage through an imaginary man named Robert Swan, Chantal's mother assures her that the idea, though questionable, is guaranteed to work. Chantal asks her father about the incident long ago, who confirms that 'Robert Swan' had driven him mad with envy. Therefore, Chantal and her mother conspire against Eugene using the same trick; Chantal is aided by her mother in simulating the presence of a lover, once again using the name of Robert Swan.
After many suspicious phone calls, as well as dozens of expensive and anonymous flower purchases, Eugene is entirely suspicious and indignant. Eventually, he confronts Chantal with the name of Robert Swan, playing perfectly into the plan. However, when Chantal explains the truth to Eugene, just as she had intended to do, Eugene refuses to believe her. Although the conflict was meant to be ended as soon as he learned the truth, Eugene prolongs the situation by continuing to believe in Robert Swan, and by encouraging Chantal to abandon him for her new-found lover. Chantal is outraged that Eugene continues to prolong the issue, and soon finds it raging out of her control; Eugene suddenly receives a phone call from the actual Robert Swan and invites him to dinner to discuss the issue. Dumbfounded, Chantal begins to prepare dinner. Much to her surprise, Robert Swan, played by Cesar Romero, shows up at the apartment, recognizing Chantal, despite the fact that she has never seen the man in her life. Upon meeting one another, Eugene and Robert Swan have very friendly interactions, seeming strangely congenial with one another despite the conflict occurring between them. Chantal is overwhelmed by the situation; she phones her parents and orders them to come over. Though they believe at first that she is hallucinating, they eventually meet Robert Swan, both with flabbergasted reactions. Mr. Swan seems to remember Germaine Stacy very fondly, and yet she is just as confused as Chantal. John Stacy, upon seeing this obstacle of his past, storms out of the apartment in surprise. Mrs. Stacy, however, joins Chantal in the bedroom where Mr. Swan's possessions are lying about, due to his plan to move in with Eugene after their delightful union. While examining Robert Swan's items, Chantal discovers that Robert Swan is, in reality, Adam Wright, Eugene's father. Amused my such a concept, Germaine goes to tell her husband the reality of the situation, only to find that John Stacy had orchestrated the entire affair as a joke against the plotting females. Though she laughingly accepts defeat, Chantal is more focused on exacting revenge. Fully aware of the conspiracy, she angrily insults her husband and leaves the apartment with all her things as if to move away.
Later, however, Eugene sends Chantal a letter, requesting her presence in the apartment. Chantal arrives at the apartment only to find that it has been covered in countless items of dog merchandise. Eugene jokingly emerges from a doghouse and summons her to his side. Their conflict seemingly ended by this comical turn of events, Chantal and Eugene share a kiss; knowing that they love one another, and that a baby is on its way into the family, they are able to continue their happily married lives together.
As Germaine Stacy (Micheline Presle) says, "If you come to love and say please me, care for me, fulfill me, you will be disappointed. It is what YOU bring to love that matters. Don't you disappoint love!"
- Sandra Dee as Chantel Stacy
- Bobby Darin as Eugene Wright
- Micheline Presle as Germaine Stacy
- John Lund as John Stacy
- Cesar Romero as Robert Swan/Adam Wright
- Stefanie Powers as Tina
- Christopher Knight as Richard
This comedy was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture (Comedy) and Best Supporting Actor (Cesar Romero). It was also nominated for a Golden Laurel for Top Female Comedy Performance (Sandra Dee).