Doris Day 3rd April 1922 – 13th May 2019

The legendary Doris Day has died at the age of 97.  The world’s highest paid woman singer after World War 2, she became a huge Hollywood musical comedy star and developed into a fine dramatic actress. Forever associated with the role of Calamity Jane she emerged in the late 1950s as an even bigger star paired opposite Rock Hudson, Cary Grant and James Garner in a series of scintillating sex comedies. She later became a TV fixture and saved the lives of so many of our furry friends. Our favourite actress, probably. Rest in peace.



Move Over Darling (1963)

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Suppose Mr Arden’s wife came back, like Irene Dunne done. Did. Five years after her disappearance at sea, Nicky Arden (James Garner) is in the process of having his wife declared dead so he can marry his new fiancée Bianca (Polly Bergen) when Ellen (Doris Day) materialises and the honeymoon is delayed but Nick finds out Ellen wasn’t alone on the island after the shipwreck after all …  A remake of one of the greatest screen comedies starring two of my favourite people? You had me at hello! This got partly remade as Something’s Got To Give with Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin but got put on hold.  Her premature death led to this iteration of Enoch Arden and My Favorite Wife, which was written by Samuel and Bella Spewack and Leo McCarey (upon whom Cary Grant modelled much of his suave screwball persona for their collaboration on The Awful Truth, another ingenious marital sex comedy.) Arnold Schulman, Nunnally Johnson and Walter Bernstein reworked that screenplay for the Monroe version (she agreed to star in it because of Johnson, and then George Cukor had it rewritten which upset her greatly); and then Hal Kanter and Jack Sher wrote this.  We can blame Tennyson for the original. The set for the Arden home was the same from the Monroe version and it was based on Cukor’s legendarily luxurious Hollywood digs. We even get to spend time at the pool of the Beverly Hills Hotel. Garner and Day are brilliantly cast and work wonderfully well together, making this one of the biggest hits of its year (it was released on Christmas Day). They had proven their chemistry on The Thrill of it All and make for a crazy good looking couple. With Thelma Ritter as Nicky’s mom, Chuck Connors as the island Adam, and Don Knotts, Edgar Buchanan and John Astin rounding out the cast, we’re in great hands. The title song, co-written by Day’s son Terry Melcher and arranged by Jack Nitzsche, was a monster. Terrific, slick, funny blend of farce and sex comedy, this censor-baiting entertainment is of its time but wears it well. Directed by Michael Gordon.

Happy 93rd Birthday Doris Day! 04/03/2017

DD Romance on the High SeasDD My Dream is Yours.jpgDD It's a Great Feeling.jpgDD Young Man with a Horn.jpgDD Tea for Two.jpgDD The West Point Story.jpgDD Storm Warning.jpgDD Lullaby of Broadway.jpgDd On Moonlight Bay.jpgDD I'll See You in My Dreams.jpgDD Starlift.jpgDd Winning Team.jpgDD April in Paris.jpgDd By the Light of the Silvery Moon.jpgDD Calamity Jane.jpgDd Lucky Me.jpgDD Young at Heart.jpgDD Love Me or Leave MeThe Man Who Knew Too Much 1956.jpgDD Julie.jpgDd The Pajama Game.jpgDD Teacher's Pet.jpgDd Tunnel of Love.jpgIt Happened to Jane poster.jpgDD Pillow Talk.jpgDD Please Don't Eat the Daisies.jpgDD Midnight Lace.jpgDD Lover Come Back.jpgDd That Touch of Mink.jpgDD Billy Rose's Jumbo.jpgThe Thrill of it All.jpgDD Move Over Darling.jpgDd Send Me No Flowers.jpgDD Do Not Disturgb.jpgThe Glass Bottom Boat poster.jpgDD The Ballad of Josie.jpgCaprice poster.jpgDD Where Were You When the Lights Went out.jpgDD With Six You Get Eggroll.jpgThe Doris Day Show.jpgDoris Day 1957.JPGDoris Day.jpg

One of my favourite women is 93 April 3rd. Whoda thunk it?! Doris Day is forever cowgirl, comedienne, romantic heroine, Hitchcock Blonde, dramatic lead, musical star and one of the great singers of the twentieth century. Long retired to Carmel, California, she has remained an animal rights advocate and one of the legendary stars. What an astonishing career! Every day should be Doris Day. Happy Birthday!

It Happened to Jane (1959)

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Doris plays Jane Osgood, a widowed mother of two trading lobster. When a shipment of 300 of the poor creatures dies in transit she asks her lawyer George (Jack Lemmon) to sue the railroad company and she’s awarded money. The company files against her and George wants her to take the train in lieu then the newspapers get hold of the story and she threatens to appear on TV. George is jealous of Larry (Steve Forrest) who’s a journalist she’s smitten with and the railroad bypasses the town, endangering all the businesses … Cute undemanding comedy with great stars and fun script by Norman Katkov and Max Wilk, this saw director/producer Richard Quine reunited again with regular star Lemmon and the great Ernie Kovacs, who had also appeared in Bell, Book and Candle:  he’s cast here as “the meanest man in the world”! Re-released in 1961 as Twinkle and Shine.

Pillow Talk (1959)

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Producer Ross Hunter thought Doris Day could be sexy and her husband Marty Melcher resurrected a script by Russell Rouse and Clarence Greene that had been loitering unmade since 1942, and with a rewrite by Stanley Shapiro and Maurice Richlin and a co-star in Rock Hudson, a new movie partnership was born. From the titles sequence to the original ending (reshot, making things legal) this romcom about an interior decorator (her) and a composer (him) sharing a party line (ie telephone!) whose lives cross, this skirts all sorts of sex and censorship issues using split screens with hilarious results. It doesn’t hurt that Tony Randall is her besotted suitor and his disgruntled friend, or that Thelma Ritter is the dipso housekeeper with rare repartee. A new era of sex comedy was born, with awards and profits flying in every direction and both Day and Hudson re-inventing their careers in the first of their screen collabs. A great looking film in every respect. Directed by Michael Gordon, who advised Hudson, Comedy is the most serious tragedy in the world. Play it that way and you can’t go wrong. If you ever think of yourself as funny, you haven’t got a chance.

The Thrill of it All (1963)

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This has been a sentimental favourite since I was probably ten years old and it should be grist to the mill of card-carrying feminists, but there you go. Doris is the homemaker and mom of two married to ob-gyn James Garner whose stories about her kids’ bathtime make her the ideal shill for Happy Soap – the company grandee is the father-in-law of Garner’s oldest patient, soon to be a first-time mom. Day’s frequent absences from home and her growing stardom cause chaos on the domestic front. Carl Reiner’s screenplay takes potshots at TV, commercials, male-female relationships and everything in between in what is a sight gag- and joke-strewn satire of contemporary life and it proved huge at the box office. Doris is great playing a very comedic role straight and Garner is perfect as the harried confused husband who is victim of a great sequence involving his car and a swimming pool he didn’t know was in his yard. My granddad’s fave rave Zasu Pitts has a funny role as the paranoid housekeeper, Reiner himself plays the hilariously repetitive soap opera roles, Edward Andrews is superb as the oldest father in town and Ross Hunter (and Day’s hubby Martin Melcher) proved he could produce another winning contempo-comedy starring Day, with all the values he’d been putting into Sirk’s marital melodramas and without the kind of formula you might have expected at this stage of their collaborations following the Rock Hudson series. Bright shiny glossy fun! You’ll feel just like you washed with Happy Soap. Directed by Norman Jewison.

On Moonlight Bay (1951)

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Sheerly delightful musical comedy starring Doris Day. She’s tomboy Marjorie Winfield who moves house with her family and starts dating the boy next door, college boy William Sherman (Gordon MacRae), meanwhile bank VP pop Leon Ames (reprising his role from Meet Me in St Louis) disagrees with William’s notions about money and marriage. He declares of Marjorie, All she knows about men are their batting averages! Precocious son Wesley (the brilliant Billy Gray) spends his time devising schemes that wind up in disaster, housekeeper Mary Wickes keeps everyone going and Mom Rosemary DeCamp is the still centre of an ever-brewing storm. When William goes off to WW1, stuffed shirt Hubert (Jack Smith) tries to woo the more feminine Doris who tries to lose her mechanic’s gear. Jack Rose and Melville Shavelson conjured the wonderful screenplay from the Penrod stories by Booth Tarkington (whose work also inspired Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons).  There are some wonderful individual scenes, including a silent movie insert, there are great songs and the atmosphere is tangible. Did I mention that there’s snow? And a snowball fight and a sleigh ride? Oh joy! It was devised as standard studio fare by Warners but had Ernest Haller doing the incredible cinematography and Max Steiner on scoring duties. It was such a huge success it was followed with a sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, another fabulously charming outing. This period romcom is on constant rotation at mine. Lovely lovely lovely!

The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

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The spy who came out of the water! The first of two slapstick spy comedies Day made with live-cartoon auteur Frank Tashlin, this is good lighthearted fun and sports a case of mistaken identity. Doris is PR at NASA where scientist Rod Taylor, reuniting the pair after Do Not Disturb, is developing a gravity simulator and an overzealous employee hears her making a phonecall to her lovely dog Vladimir – and he presumes she’s a Russian spy. Gorgeous scenery around Catalina, where Doris plays a mermaid for her dad Arthur Godfrey’s eponymous tourist business. Terrific slapstick scenes featuring Paul Lynde, Dick Martin and Dom DeLuise amid exquisitely rendered production design and Robert Vaughn’s cameo as Napoleon Solo is heralded with the theme from The Man from UNCLE. With cinematography by Leon Shamroy, music by Frank DeVol (excepting Doris and Dad singing Que Sera…!) and costumes by Ray Aghayan, the same production team would be back together a year later for Caprice, another amusement filled with mistaken identity, cross-dressing and espionage – and Godfrey makes a cameo appearance in a photo as Doris’ dad again. Lively, gag-filled entertainment.