In the movie Pillow Talk, the motif of pregnancy is developed through two different characters: Jan and Brad. Jan works as an interior designer and comes off as innocent, yet attractive. On the other hand, Brad Allen works as a songwriter and manifests himself as a playboy. Despite their remarkable differences, it is through both of these characters are the means by which the idea of pregnancy is surfaced.
Before actually getting to pregnancy, it is important to consider the historical context. As this film was released in October of 1959, it reflects much of the ideology and practices of the 1950s. One main trend that was associated with this time period was conformity. Americans at this time had an image of what was “normal” and most people tried to mirror that image. The newly widespread visibility of the television helped promote these norms. One can see elements of this obsession with conformity in the way people dressed, the cars they drove, and the houses they lived in.
Conformity in the 1950s extended beyond material goods. People during this time period shared many of the same beliefs. One specific area in which people agreed upon was family values. There was a high value on family stability and people tried to adhere to traditional values as closely as possible in order to achieve that stability. One source of evidence was that divorce rates dropped and birth rates rose. It can be said that pregnancy and divorce have an inverse relationship. This trend definitely indicates family solidarity rather than divergence. Similarly, people in the 1950s valued the maintenance of traditional gender roles. Men were to work outside the house and provide for the family while women were to handle all domestic duties.
The idea of pregnancy in Pillow Talk reflects larger social beliefs of the era. The first instance in which pregnancy is mentioned is when Jan goes to visit the telephone company’s office. She complains about having to share the party line with Brad and inquires about getting a private line installed. The company tells her that they only give out private lines to people with special circumstances. Jan asks about which circumstances would warrant that and they tell her being pregnant is the most common way to get a private line. The fact that the telephone company is willing to give special privilege to pregnant women underscores society’s value on having children at the time.
A second instance in which pregnancy surfaces in the movie is when Brad steps into the obstetrician’s office. He tells the receptionist he needs to see the doctor immediately and she is left extremely confused. The doctor and receptionist try to track Brad down to see if there are undiscovered frontiers in Science. Brad dismisses their curiosity by not thinking about the situation but rather the fact that men can’t get pregnant. Brad’s attitude thus is a reflection on the rigid gender roles of the time. Both instances where pregnancy appears reflect larger social trends of the time period.