Gig Young in That Touch of Mink
Gig Young as Roger, neurotic financial advisor
New York City, Spring 1962
Film: That Touch of Mink
Release Date: June 14, 1962
Director: Delbert Mann
Though not regarded among the best of either Cary Grant or Doris Day’s filmographies, That Touch of Mink will always have a special place for me as one of the movies I used to watch with my grandma, who introduced me to many classic stars from the era through her collection of VHS tapes that we watched nearly to oblivion.
In this romantic comedy, it’s the leads’ best friends who are the most fun to watch, both Audrey Meadows (who Grant—a fan of her work on The Honeymooners—campaigned to have added to the cast) and Gig Young as Grant’s right-hand man.
“Whenever you play a second lead and lose the girl, you have to make your part interesting yet not compete with the leading man,” Young explained in a 1966 interview. “There are few great second leads in this business. It’s easier to play a lead; you can do whatever you want. If I’m good, it always means the leading man has been generous.”
Indeed, Young did credit Grant’s generosity with him in That Touch of Mink, encouraging and urging Young to make more of his role as the cheerfully neurotic Roger. The psychiatry-obsessed Roger resents himself for giving up an honorable career as a Princeton economics professor (“the Ivy League Socrates,” Grant’s character mocks) in favor of earning $50,000 a year (this was 1962, after all) as financial advisor to the “cold, ruthless, predatory” business tycoon Philip Shayne. Of course, Philip is played by Cary Grant so he’s rarely less than the perfect gentleman… and all the moments where Philip’s chivalry shines, Roger grows openly furious at Philip for poking holes in the toxic image he had created of his boss.
Roger: To my everlasting shame, I sold out. That wasn’t enough for you! Every year, you further humiliate me by raising my salary!
Philip: Aw, it’s inexcusable. It’s like rubbing salt in the wound.
Roger: Yes, and at Christmas, you gave me stock in the company. Why are you trying to destroy me?
Before Philip is even thinking about his morning coffee, Roger is pouring himself a dram of whiskey and crediting his oft-mentioned analyst, Dr. Gruber (Alan Hewitt), with why’s he’s started drinking first thing in the morning. (Interestingly, Elizabeth Montgomery would request a divorce from Young the following year, citing his alcoholism as grounds.) If that isn’t enough of a red flag regarding the exalted Dr. Gruber’s questionable talents, we see him taking advantage of Roger’s honesty during their sessions for stock tips.
Born Byron Elsworth Barr in St. Cloud, Minnesota, Gig Young had an impressive film career that lasted nearly 40 years and included an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (1969) as well as two nominations for Come Fill the Cup (1951) and Teacher’s Pit (1958). So why is this talented performer so little remembered today? The mysterious circumstances of his end seem to have something to do with it. On October 19, 1978, Young and his fifth wife, Kim Schmidt, were found dead in their Manhattan apartment of an apparent murder-suicide just three weeks after they were married. It has been hypothesized that Young first shot Schmidt before killing himself.
Like his character in That Touch of Mink, Young was known to be a patient of another questionable therapist, Eugene Landy, whose unconventional and unethical treatment of clients like Beach Boys co-founder Brian Wilson led to his medical license being revoked.
What’d He Wear?
Sartorially speaking, it must have been hard for male actors to be noticed when sharing the screen with Cary Grant, particularly when the debonair actor played a a rich and sophisticated character like Philip Shayne who can afford to dress like, well, Cary Grant. However, Gig Young’s natty duds prove to be a worthy screen partner for Grant’s tailored suits, providing an interesting yin to Grant’s elegantly simple yang with his series of business-friendly gray suits worn with a cycle of skinny knit ties and odd waistcoats.
Day 1: We meet Roger as he idles in Philip’s office, enjoying some of his boss’ whiskey as a morning libation and extolling the virtues of his analyst, Dr. Gruber. After his requisite complaining about selling out to work on Wall Street, Roger is issued a demeaning task by his otherwise benevolent boss: take $100 across the street to apologize on his behalf to a young blonde who was splashed that morning when his black limousine drove through a puddle.
Roger finds himself inspired by the woman, Cathy Timberlake (Doris Day), who offers to accompany Roger up to Philip’s office to throw the money in his face… until she sees that Philip is actually Cary Grant and finds herself instantly charmed by his disarmingly suave demeanor.
Roger’s daily style template is established in this sequence with a sleek, fashionable two-piece business suit, odd waistcoat, light shirt, and skinny knit tie. He wears his most frequently seen suit, in gray-blue pick wool. The single-breasted suit jacket has narrow notch lapels that roll to a two-button front, and it has a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, short double vents, and two-button cuffs. The flat front trousers have buckle-tab side adjusters, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
Roger wears a plain white poplin shirt with a spread collar, front placket, and single-button cuffs. His slim knit tie is dark navy blue, and he wears his favorite waistcoat, a gray jersey-knit cotton single-breasted vest with two pockets, and a straight bottom with a notch under the four-button front.
Day 2: Roger walks into his boss’ office, happier than Philip is used to seeing him. Of course, Roger has an explanation for his cheer:
I had a wonderful night’s rest. You know the trouble I have sleeping? Well, I’ve solved it. Just before you go to bed, you put three tranquilizers in a jigger of brandy and you drink it. You still can’t sleep but you’re so relaxed that you don’t worry about it. It was exhilarating.
Philip takes the wind out of Roger’s sails by explaining his current conundrum with Cathy, the woman that Roger had hoped would put Philip in his place. “Roger, I’ve been wrestling with my conscience all morning. And I lost,” declares Philip. “That’s an upset,” quips Roger. Philip elaborates by explaining his decision to revoke his offer to take Cathy to Bermuda, given his perception of her naïveté. “What a terrible thing to do to me,” Roger moans. “To you?!” responds Philip. “I built this image of a man—cold, ruthless, predatory—then you go do a decent thing like this and destroy that image,” says Roger, disgusted by his boss’ decency. “You’ll set me back years in my analysis!”
During this conversation, Roger wears another blue-gray semi-solid wool suit, albeit a slightly darker one than from the previous day. His gray vest is the same, and he wears another white shirt, but his forest green knit tie is his only sartorial divergence from anything on a cool blue-to-gray scale during the whole movie.
Day 3: The darker blue-gray suit falls victim to an egg salad assault at the automat, courtesy of Connie, so Roger is back in his original medium gray-blue suit and navy knit tie when he and Leonard (William Lanteau), the Bergdorf Goodman coordinator, watch Cathy board her Pan Am flight to Bermuda with Philip the following day.
Day 4: The next morning, Roger finds less-than-desirable results when testing the “hair down, glasses off” trope with his secretary, Miss Jones (Jan Burrell), when he sees that Philip is prematurely back from Bermuda after a disappointing trip with Cathy.
After Roger takes the opportunity to revel in the schadenfreude (“Things went pretty badly, didn’t they? It was a disaster, wasn’t it?”), we finally get to meet the much-discussed Dr. Gruber. “It’s good to be home,” Roger giddily remarks as he settles onto Dr. Gruber’s couch and loosens his tie, now a royal blue knit tie worn with a pale blue poplin shirt. The suit and vest are the same gray-blue wool suit and mid-gray knit waistcoat as he wore for his first appearance.
A few hours later, Roger ends up on his own couch when calling Dr. Gruber from his office. This shot gives the viewers our best look at the black calf leather derby shoes with their two- or three-eyelet open lacing and long, sleek vamps that he wears with black socks for all of his on-screen outfits.
Day 5: The next morning, another failed trip for Philip in Bermuda finds an overjoyed Roger actually buying flowers for Cathy… but Connie and Cathy’s neighbors mistake him for Philip, subjecting him to being knocked down the stairs, beaten with a broom, and chased by a dog.
The abuse ruins Roger’s newly seen blue suit, but it gives us a pretty good look at the buckle-tab side adjusters on his trousers as he tumbles down the steps in her apartment building.
Philip: What happened?
Roger: I was knocked down two flights of stairs and then viciously attacked by a dog in a taxi. This has been the most satisfying day of my life!
Before the carnage, Roger was dressed quite nicely in a blue suit, styled like the previous suits. The scene also introduced us to a new waistcoat for Roger, this one in a dark navy but cut and styled exactly the same as his gray one with its stretchy jersey-knit cotton and four-button front with welt pockets. He wears this with a white shirt and skinny navy knit tie.
Day 6: Roger has evidently cleaned himself up when he returns to the office in time to observe Philip reading his good-bye letter and promissory note from Cathy. A frustrated Philip tasks Roger with finding a potential “simple, dull, unimaginative” husband for Cathy.
While the gray knit vest, pale blue shirt, and dark navy knit tie have all been seen before, this is the first and only appearance of Roger’s gray suit with its narrow pinstripe. The single-breasted suit with its two-button jacket is otherwise similar to his others, aside from the three-button cuffs on the end of each jacket sleeve.
Day 7: Roger begins conspiring with Connie—and a reluctant Cathy—to get Philip interested in marrying Cathy. (Keep in mind that it’s been less than a week since the two met, but that’s early ’60s romantic comedy for you!)
Cathy: Look, he doesn’t love me. He just feels sorry for me.
Roger: Doesn’t love you? He’s compared you to the plague!
Roger points out that Philip completely nixed the list of potential husbands that he drews up, a list that included Rock Hudson as an in-joke both to Day’s frequent collaborations with him as well as the fact that the Philip Shayne role was developed with Hudson in mind before Grant was cast. These scenes illustrate how the interactions between Roger and Connie are a highlight of the movie.
Roger and Philip are nearly matching in their gray-blue semi-solid suits, though this one differs from Roger’s first gray-blue suit with its tonal plaid pattern and three-button cuffs. He wears otherwise familiar-to-the-viewer clothing like his pale blue poplin shirt, dark navy knit tie, and dark navy knit waistcoat which, evidently, wasn’t too damaged in the dog attack two days earlier.
A madcap chase leads to the film’s humorous climax at Al’s Motel in Asbury Park, where both Roger and Philip mistake the mild-mannered Mr. Smith (John Fielder) for Cathy’s smarmy date, Everett Beasley (John Astin).
Denouement: The film ends with a vignette the following spring that finds Roger walking through Central Park with Philip, Cathy, and their new baby. When the happy couple steps away to take a photo, Roger runs into Dr. Gruber and shows him the baby that was the product of his obsessive diatribes in therapy.
Perhaps as an indicator of his more carefree state of mind, Roger breaks his sartorial pattern by sporting a hairline-striped seersucker sport jacket with classic blue and white stripes, worn with dark gray trousers.. He curiously wears the three-button jacket with just the lowest button fastened, much like Cary Grant himself wore tailored jackets during these latter years of his career.
Roger wears a white shirt with a rolling spread collar and button cuffs. His slate-colored satin silk tie has a single black stripe “uphill” in the center.
How to Get the Look
Befitting his dependability as Philip Shayne’s right-hand man, Gig Young’s Roger follows a reliable template of gray-blue business suits, odd waistcoats, and knit ties as he carries out his boss’s bidding… and then sits on his psychiatrist’s couch to complain about it.
- Gray-blue semi-solid pick wool business suit
- Single-breasted two-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, two-button cuffs, and short double vents
- Flat front suit trousers with buckle-tab side adjusters, straight/on-seam side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Medium gray jersey-knit cotton single-breasted four-button waistcoat with two pockets and notched bottom
- White or pale blue poplin shirt with spread collar, front placket, and single-button cuffs
- Navy blue skinny knit tie
- Black calf leather long-vamp derby shoes
- Black dress socks
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
It upsets you, doesn’t it? The puppet master ran across a puppet who won’t perform and then cuts all his strings. She’s become a symbol of hope to all of us who sold out for that touch of mink. You give us good salaries, paid vacations, insurance. You take away our problems and act like you’ve done us a favor. Well, you haven’t, and some day there’ll be an uprising, and the masses will regain the misery they’re entitled to!
I noted that fans of Arrested Development may have noted some similarities to Roger asking his homely secretary to remove her glasses and let her hair down to see if it makes her more attractive to GOB asking the Bluth Company secretary (and his father’s mistress) Kitty Sanchez to do the same, both men thinking that it should work based on “the movies”.
This isn’t the only moment that would be parroted 40 years later on Arrested Development as Philip Shayne’s ride in the back of a poultry van finds his curiosity getting the best of him as he opens a basket only to reel in disgust at finding “a plucked chicken”. Dead dove, do not eat, anyone?
Great classic clothing film! More from this one please! CG is in it, after all. Fantastic post!
The final scene appears to be filmed on 57th Street and Sutton Place. You can see the Queensboro Bridge in the background.