Misperceptions in “Pillow Talk”

Deion Love

Professor Claire Laville

ENG 101-008

19 September 2014

“Pillow Talk” is a film directed by Michael Gordon, which tells a story set in the 1950’s of a man and a woman who share a telephone line. The film begins with Doris Day playing as “Jan Morrow”, she intends on using her telephone but her line was tied up due to the other person she shares a line with, Brad Allen. Jan chimes in on the conversation complaining how she is never able to use her telephone. The main reason why is because Brad would always be “sweet-talking” women over the phone. Scenes would show Allen flirting with countless women, using his charm and talent of singing and playing the piano. Being able to compare how Brad is perceived over the phone and his actions while speaking with women, allows one to see that he’s not as interested in the women as he sounds. The women misperceive his attractions towards him, based off of the way he sounds and what he says. The tone of Brad’s voice entices women into falling for him; unbeknownst to them, he is having multiple conversations with women daily.

Of course, due to the phone situation, Jan Morrow and Brad Allen’s relationship wasn’t the best and they had never met each other while they had conflicts; they’ve only heard each other’s voices over the phone. One of Allen’s friends, Jonathan Forbes, had brought up the fact that he had feelings for Jan; hearing the news, Brad Allen wanted to advance on Jan even though his friend admitted to having feelings for her. Brad Allen decided to pursue Jan when he noticed that they were in the same venue. Allen had to disguise himself so that she would reject him when they officially met. Allen introduced himself as someone else and escorted Jan back home. The two exchanged numbers then started having conversations over the telephone. Continuing his disguise, Brad assumed a different voice then his own so Jan wouldn’t know who he really was; Jan misperceived Brad for the guy who he was trying to impersonate. All along Jan never noticed that the guy she had been talking to was the same guy that was sharing a party line with her until she discovered one of the songs she had remembered him singing over the phone.

The different voices that Brad Allen assumed in the film reminded me of the analysis we did as a class on code-switching. Even though Brad Allen did not change his voice to fit in with an ethnic group, he changed his voice to fit in with the situation. I admit to having done this before, altering the way I speak or assuming a certain voice to fit in with the situation. Throughout the film, Brad Allen had “code-switched” in a certain situation. In my opinion, every one has participated in code-switchin


One thought on “Misperceptions in “Pillow Talk”

  1. The author does a good job in explaining the misperceptions that are riddled in “Pillow Talk” due Brad Allen’s (one of the main characters) charades. The author explains the scenes in which Brad Allen’s code-switching causes misperceptions for the girls whom he sweet talks. The author explains that it is Brad’s voice and tone that entice women throughout the film, a key analysis when scrutinizing code-switching in this film. I felt that the author could have better expanded on his categorizing Brad Smith’s code-switching as one that is situational rather than ethnic.


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