Though it's basically a follow-up to the first Rock Hudson and Doris Day movie, Pillow Talk (which Shapiro had co-written), Lover Come Back soft-pedals the professional-virgin jokes and emphasizes Henning's obsessions: the brash, sex-obsessed, consumerist urban culture of the '50s and '60s. Advertising is the main target here. Hudson plays an advertising man who uses sex to sell everything; he gets clients to sign up with him by treating them to parties with lots of sexy women, and he creates commericals revolving entirely around the lure of sex ("Give me a stacked dame in a bathing suit and I can sell anything"). To prevent Rebel (Edie Adams) from blabbing to the advertising ethics watchdog about some of his tactics, he puts her in commercials for a product that doesn't actually exist and is never actually defined in the commercials. Unfortunately, ethical rival Carol Templeton (Doris Day) hears about this campaign, and even more unfortunately, the head of the company, hapless rich scion Pete (Tony Randall) releases the commercials to the public. The advertising campaign creates huge buzz, and Hudson has to come up with a product to go with the successful commercials.
The second half of the script isn't as effective as the first -- it's heavier on Pillow Talk-y mistaken identity complications -- but the first half of the script, and some parts of the second, are pure Henning and pure fun. Here are some of the better quotes:
J. PAXTON MILLER (hung over): I'm flyin' back to Richmond.
J. PAXTON MILLER: Now, honey, now! We just passin' over Pittsburgh!
BRACKETT (Howard St. John): We've learned to live with Jerry Webster. He's like the common cold: You know you'll get it once or twice a year. There are two ways to handle a cold: You can fight it, or give in and go to bed with it.
CAROL: Let me put it this way, I don't use sex to land an account.
JERRY: When do you use it?
REBEL: Do you think they'll like me on TV?
JERRY: Honey, single-handed, you may bring in the forty-inch screen.
CAROL Jerry Webster's trying to land this account, but we're gonna beat him to it.
MILLIE (Ann B. Davis): Are you sure? He fights rough.
CAROL Then we'll fight rough! This is war, Millie!
MILLIE: That means liquor, wild parties and girls, right?
MILLIE: I'd like to volunteer for frontline duty.
JERRY: What is that?
PETE: The mating call of the moose. This call is absolutely irresistible. Your bull moose will run miles to get to the source of this call.
JERRY: And then what happens?
PETE: I take his picture.
JERRY: Pete, he's not running miles to get photographed.
CAROL: You kissed me and I was thrilled.
JERRY: A kiss. What does that prove? If you can light a stove, it still doesn't make you a cook.
JERRY: Plenty of girls would like to be Mrs. Jerry Webster.
CAROL: I'm sure they have a right.
JERRY: Okay, so I've sown a few wild oats.
CAROL: A few? You could qualify for a farm loan!
And, of course, probably the most-quoted line in the movie and the essence of all that is Tony Randall:
PETE: I'm king of the elevator!