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The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Rod Taylor plays Bruce Templeton, a space-age genius, in this Doris Day romantic comedy.

It has a catchy title tune, some slapstick humor, a dash of mistaken identity and some genuinely laugh-out-loud scenes.

But first -- a hearty helping of beefcake.

For many Rod Taylor fans, the payoff comes immediately, before the opening credits. There's Rod, on a boat, fishing in the waters off Catalina Island, wearing nothing but a pair of swim trunks. Muscles ripple as Rod reels in the bottom of Doris Day's mermaid suit.

Then it's on to the rest of the (fully clothed) movie. Sigh.


Doris Day plays Jennifer Nelson, a widow who works in publicity at a NASA research lab. On weekends, she dons a mermaid suit to entertain the customers on her father's glass bottom boat. She encounters Bruce Templeton (Rod) when he hooks the zipper on her mermaid suit and reels it onto his boat. Templeton not only hooks her, though, he needles her, and the two exchange verbal barbs.

Their next encounter starts with Jennifer hooked again, this time stuck in a grate at the NASA lab. He comes to her rescue, but it's not until later that she finds out he's the famous hot-shot physicist who has invented a top-secret gizmo called GISMO.

Thinking that Jennifer might really make a good catch, Bruce sets out to woo her and hires her to be his biographer. Along the way, some of the dimmer bulbs at the office decide that Jennifer is a spy (after overhearing her make phone calls to her dog, Vladimir). It's a real hoot as Jennifer eventually outwits them all.

There are some truly side-splitting scenes, including Paul Lynde (a security guard) in a blue satin dress, looking appalled finding Dick Martin (Rod's business partner) and Edward Andrews (a general) in bed together. Dom DeLuise produces laughs as an inept spy, and Robert Vaughn's split-second cameo is a hoot.

The only real tiresome -- and tired -- parts of the movie are the gadgets that were the 1960s idea of high tech. Such things apparently were a trademark of director Frank Tashlin, and they may have been clever then, but viewed today many of the gee-whiz scenes just slow down the action.

I must admit that I have a soft spot for the sing-along scene when Bruce and Jennifer visit her dad (Arthur Godfrey). They bounce along through the delightful "Glass Bottom Boat" theme, then Doris drifts into "Que Sera, Sera." The whole scene seems natural and feels like the players were having a whole lot of fun.

Of Rod, Variety magazine commented in a 1966 review:

Taylor lends his usual masculine presence effectively, both as the inventor and romantic.


The location filming on Catalina Island took place Sept. 13-19, 1965.

Marco Lopez, Rod's friend and assistant, described the activities on Catalina in the October 1965 edition of the Rod-Lore fan newsletter. Apparently, there was more than just a movie being shot (animal lovers beware):

The island has areas that have not been touched by man and are inhabited by wild boar, pigs, mountain goats, buffalo, you name it. ... Rod along with Fred Hakim [Rod's stunt coordinator] went on a "safari" jaunt ... with one of the rangers from the island. ... Rod got himself an enormous trophy -- a 275-pound wild boar. ... [Later], on his days off during shooting schedules, he and Fred take off to the island an manage to bring back with them fat little pink pigs ready for a barbecue feast!

Every Girl's Dream (1966)

Rod Taylor appears briefly in this short promotional feature for "The Glass Bottom Boat," produced in cooperation with the National Cotton Council. (View it on YouTube.)

Nancy Bernard, the 1966 Maid of Cotton, is shown walking through sets and sound stages at MGM Studios as her cotton outfits are described by a narrator.

She also attends a "screen test" displaying the costumes designed by Ray Aghayan for "The Glass Bottom Boat." Doris Day models most of the fashions, but co-star Rod Taylor drops by to show off a sport coat. The promo is filmed in black and white, so you'll have to take their word for it that Rod's blue blazer has a scarlet lining!

Taylor also appears in scenes from "The Glass Bottom Boat" in two other promotional short films that give a nod to locations used in the movie (links lead to videos on the Turner Classic Movies Web site):

  • "Glass Bottom Boat at NASA" features Doris Day saluting the perfection of the space agency.
  • "Glass Bottom Boat at Catalina" has Arthur Godfrey describing the lovely island of Catalina, off the coast of California. It also has some behind-the-scenes/making-of scenes like the one below.

 All three of these promotional shorts are included in the DVD version of "The Glass Bottom Boat" released in April 2005.



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More images in the Gallery


IMDb // Wikipedia

Pressbook items (PDF)

Rod-Lore newsletter: Rod's assistant, Marco Lopez, writes about their Catalina Island experiences (PDF)

TV Guide Online: Movie review.

Nice review of DVD: From

The Films of Doris Day: Has an extensive illustrated description and analysis of "Glass Bottom Boat."

Turner Classic Movies

TCM's write-up about the movie nicely notes that Rod Taylor "is perfectly cast as the romantic lead and straight man amid [the movie's] mayhem and is convincing, as usual, as the smart and debonair recipient of Day's ire and affection."  

Movie tie-in paperback book


DVD on

Video on YouTube:
The fishing scene!

Opening credits and theme

Singalong scene with Doris Day, Arthur Godfrey and Rod.

Every Girl's Dream promo

Video at TCM:
Original trailer
Glass Bottom Boat in Catalina Glass Bottom Boat at NASA