The Glass Bottom Boat

The Glass Bottom Boat


Axel Nordstrom manages a glass-bottom boat tourist operation in the waters of Santa Catalina Island, California. His widowed daughter, Jennifer Nelson, occasionally helps by donning a mermaid’s costume and swimming underneath his boat for the passengers’ amusement.

One day, Jennifer accidentally meets Bruce Templeton when his fishing hook snags her costume. He reels in the bottom half of her mermaid costume, leaving the irate Jennifer floating in the water without pants. Jennifer later discovers that Templeton is a top executive at her new place of employment, a NASA aerospace research laboratory in Long Beach, where she works in public relations.

Templeton later sees Jennifer again at work and recognizes her, and with a hidden purpose, he hires her for a new full-time assignment: to be his “biographer” and to write his life story. His hidden purpose is to make an attempt to win Jennifer’s affections. There is a problem. The laboratory’s security chief, Homer Cripps, concludes that Jennifer is a Soviet spy, and to prove his suspicions, he has Jennifer surveilled. When she learns of the notion, Jennifer disproves the bumbling Cripps.


I don’t think that I’ve ever been on a glass bottom boat, but I really want to someday, especially if Doris Day is the tour guide. The Glass Bottom Boat is the most recent of Day’s films that I have had the pleasure to view, especially since I had never heard of this before Netflix suggested it.

What is this about?

Engineer Bruce Templeton (Rod Taylor) makes quite a catch when he reels in public-relations worker and part-time mermaid Jennifer Nelson (Doris Day). Smitten with the costumed cutie, Bruce commissions Jennifer to write his biography. But through a series of misunderstandings, he comes to believe she’s a Russian spy intent on stealing scientific secrets

What did I like?

Cast. Apart from Doris Day, this film has some great comedic talent accompanying her. Standouts, at least to me, were Dom DeLuise (who is much skinnier than we are used to seeing him) and Paul Lynde. Both of them are comedic geniuses and when they finally get the chance to interact it is quite the sight.

Dodo. Think back to the turn of the century when pop princesses were appearing out of thin air every single day. You know, names like Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears, Jessica Simpson, etc. Every one of them was known for their sexy image, except for Mandy Moore. Well, in her heyday, Doris Day had to contend with the likes of Marilyn, Jayne, Elizabeth and other huge stars of the time, most of which did not have her wholesome values, which many have considered the reason Day didn’t go on to become a bigger star. At any rate, she is in her 40s here and hasn’t lost her acting chops one bit.

60s fun. I warn you now, if you’re not a fan of the cheesy, kitschy tone that we get in many movies and shows from the 60s, then this is not for you. However, I love this stuff, so there you go.

What didn’t I like?

Music. First and foremost, Doris Day is an actress, but much in the same way that you rarely see John Travolta in a film where he doesn’t dance, she sings in nearly everything I’ve seen her in. Granted, most of those are musicals, but that’s beside the point. I would have loved to get a song or two from her, but that’s my personal preference.

Not Bond. I wasn’t the biggest fan of this plot. The spy stuff just didn’t resonate with me, either as a comedic mistake or when it became more “serious”. The one thing that could have made it better, as well as made the cameo make more sense, would be if they tied Robert Vaughn’s character from The Man from U.N.C.L.E. into the spy proceedings.

Off. There was something a bit off about Doris Day’s looks. Again, she is in her 40s here, so she’s not the fresh-faced cutie that she was in something like Calamity Jane or, even better, when she was singing with the Les Brown Orchestra. I just found it hard to get past her drastically altered appearance, even if it is naturally changed.

A great cast, including the immortal Doris Day are the highlight of The Glass Bottom Boat. Throw in kitschy 60s fun and you have a winner. It should be noted that if you ever want a film that is 100% safe for all audiences, look for Doris Day. She worked very hard to keep her wholesome image, even turning down the role of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. Can you imagine how different we would think of her if she would have taken that role? I give this a high recommendation. Surely, you’ll have some fun watching!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars


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