Code Switching in “Pillow Talk”

Pillow Talk is a movie about Jan Morrow (played by Doris Day) and Brad Allen (played by Rock Hudson) who share, and often fight about, a party line with one another. The two finally meet in person and Brad tricks her into thinking he is someone else so he can seduce her.

In Pillow Talk, there are many incidences where characters misperceive one another only by voice (otherwise known as code-switching). The obvious case is when Brad pretends to be a southern gentleman with a Texas accent when he meets Jan. However, there is someone else who is a prime suspect in the case of code-switching. Jane is almost as guilty as Brad is in changing who she was around someone else in order for them to like you more.

At the beginning of the movie, Jane is depicted as a strong, independent women, driven by her career and being successful. When Jonathan offers her a brand new car and all of his love, she stays under control and doesn’t get wooed by his money. It is safe to say that Jane is the type that shoots from the hips and is with it. Although this is not always how women from the 70s were perceived, Jane without a doubt was depicted that way.

She was seen that way all until she set eyes on Brad Allen. Whenever she spoke to him, she used a high pitched girly voice rather than her strong adult voice. She would try to be much more flirtatious in her choice of words. She was code switching and not being her true self in order to make Brad fall in love with her. Although Brad Allen is seen as the main deceitful person in Pillow Talk, Jane does it just as much as he does.

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