Monday, April 02, 2012

TCM Star of the Month: Doris Day

The amazing Doris Day turns 88 on Tuesday, April 3rd, and Turner Classic Movies will be honoring Doris as the April Star of the Month...or perhaps we should more appropriately call her the Star of the Week!

In an unusual scheduling move, TCM is devoting each night this week to Doris Day, showing a total of 28 Day films between Monday and Friday evenings.

Day mania kicks off this evening with eight films, including LULLABY OF BROADWAY (1951), BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (1953), MY DREAM IS YOURS (1949), ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951), ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948), TEA FOR TWO (1950), IT'S A GREAT FEELING (1949), and STARLIFT (1951).

Of this initial group of movies, I particularly recommend Doris's film debut in ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, where she became a star overnight and introduced the classic song "It's Magic."

I also very much like her second film, MY DREAM IS YOURS, and am especially fond of the nostalgic ON MOONLIGHT BAY and its sequel BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON. The latter two films are being shown in reverse order tonight; they costar Gordon MacRae as her boyfriend, with Leon Ames and Rosemary DeCamp as her parents, Billy Gray as her pesky little brother, and Mary Wickes as the housekeeper.

There are lots of fun cameos by Warner Bros. stars in IT'S A GREAT FEELING. I don't believe I've seen the other three films yet.  There are still a number of Doris Day films I need to catch up with!

On Doris's birthday, April 3rd, the focus is mostly on romantic comedies, leading off with LOVER COME BACK (1961), costarring Rock Hudson, and her one film with Cary Grant, the fun THAT TOUCH OF MINK (1962). Next comes MOVE OVER, DARLING (1963), the remake of MY FAVORITE WIFE (1940) in which she starred with James Garner.

The next two films shown tomorrow night were disappointments, DO NOT DISTURB (1965) with Rod Taylor and THE TUNNEL OF LOVE (1958) with Richard Widmark. The latter film was a crass misfire that may represent the nadir of both Day's and Widmark's careers.

The evening rounds out with LUCKY ME (1954), costarring Bob Cummings, and the musical BILLY ROSE'S JUMBO (1962). I have fond memories of seeing the latter film at the late, lamented Vagabond Theater in Los Angeles in the late '70s or early '80s.

April 4th the the night starts with the suspense film MIDNIGHT LACE (1960), costarring Rex Harrison, and the drama STORM WARNING (1951) with Ginger Rogers, Ronald Reagan, and Steve Cochran. Those are followed by the baseball film THE WINNING TEAM (1952) with Ronald Reagan and a suspense film I like even if it's a bit hokey, JULIE (1956). Love Doris landing that passenger plane!

April 4th ends with the James Cagney musical THE WEST POINT STORY (1950).

There are some fun family comedies on April 5th: PLEASE DON'T EAT THE DAISIES (1960) with David Niven and one of my very favorite Doris films, THE THRILL OF IT ALL (1963) with James Garner. Many people fondly remember the hilarious scene where Jim drives his car into a swimming pool.

After those films it's time for THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT (1966), her second film with Rod Taylor, and IT HAPPENED TO JANE (1959), a fun film with Jack Lemmon. The evening concludes with APRIL IN PARIS (1952).

There are just three films on Friday, April 6th, all focusing on musicians: her great performance as Ruth Etting opposite James Cagney in LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955), which is another film I got to see on the big screen at the Vagabond way back when.

That's followed by YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN (1950), also starring Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall, and I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS (1951) with Danny Thomas. It's rather wonderful that the three leads of YOUNG MAN WITH A HORN are all still with us over six decades later! I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS is a biography of songwriter Gus Kahn.

A handful of my favorite Doris Day films aren't showing this week, so here are Amazon links for CALAMITY JANE (1953), THE PAJAMA GAME (1957), TEACHER'S PET (1958), and PILLOW TALK (1959). All of these DVDs except for TEACHER'S PET are available from Netflix; PAJAMA GAME is also available on Netflix's Watch Instantly, and PILLOW TALK is available from Amazon Instant Video.

For more information on TCM in April, please visit my post TCM in April: Highlights or check out the complete online schedule.

Coming in May: the Star of the Month is Joel McCrea! The June Star of the Month theme is Teen Idols; more on that soon.

Enjoy April on Turner Classic Movies!


Blogger dsinla said...

Join the facebook page:

Doris Day to be (finally) Honored by the Oscars?

10:53 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

It's a shame that CALAMITY JANE and THE PAJAMA GAME are not on the schedule as they are two of her very best. For me, they would be among the four best--one of the others being LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, which thankfully they are showing, a great movie and I believe Day herself is known to favor it.

The other one of the four is also missing--THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, in which Day gives one of the best performances ever in a Hitchcock film, and that's saying a lot. She is at her very best in that film, and there few people as talented as her on screen ever.

Despite these sad omissions (and I've been meaning to comment on equally conspicuous lapses in the schedule for Joel McCrea coming along), she's invariably a joy in all her movies, and of the ones I haven't mentioned here, I strongly agree with you about ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, a wonderful debut and recorded it tonight to watch again soon.

11:31 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Watched ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS tonight to celebrate her birthday. As ever "It's magic.:
No doubt why Day became an immediate star, and Jack Carson is most amusing singing "Run, run, run, when you see a pretty woman."

I'm mainly posting again because I forgot that I actually have five best Days--I don't know how I could have forgotten YOUNG AT HEART (1954)--even though it's a remake of 30s FOUR DAUGHTERS, considered a classic, I love YOUNG AT HEART more; it is for me one of those movies that define so much of what I love about 1950s movies.

11:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much for your comments, Blake! I also love YOUNG IN HEART, saw it many times growing up and wish that a nicer DVD than the one I have would be released. If I remember correctly it's a pan & scan.

I've delayed seeing THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, despite my love for the director and two leads, because of the "mom with child in peril" plotline. I'll see it someday, but it's at the far end of my list of Hitchcocks which I still need to see. I feel braver about tackling THE BIRDS first! LOL.

So glad you got to enjoy ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS again! It's really "magical" watching a movie star being born as you watch. Love so much about that movie. Amazing color!

I haven't seen either LOVER COME BACK or THAT TOUCH OF MINK in a few years; recorded them tonight and hope to revisit them soon.

Best wishes,

11:27 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Laura, I'm glad you also love YOUNG AT HEART. BTW, it's not actually anamorphic--1.85 is probably the ideal aspect ratio, so should have a little letterboxing but I'm sure you never saw it pan and scan, just full frame as I first did on TV. I notice this one too is not on TCM's schedule for the week and I guess that's why I somehow didn't think of it before.

I know THE BIRDS is on that list of yours for this year, which is good--it's one of Hitchcock's very greatest films (meaning for me in the top 3), and that's enough for this year I'm sure. But just to point out two things--1)THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH, if not quite as great, is also one of AH's masterpieces (and I'm more sparing than many people in how many I give him) and 2) there are more children imperiled in THE BIRDS and some of them cruelly hurt too, while in MAN WHO KNEW... the imperiled child (the main couple's son) is kidnapped and there's a lot of suspense but this being a family-friendly Hitchcock film (I saw it alone at age 12) you can kind of guess how it turns out in the end.

Maybe you'd consider putting it on your "classics unseen by Laura" list next year. After all, it is both Stewart and Day as well as Hitchcock, as you say.

I'm moved to add this--in Bill Krohn's HITCHCOCK AT WORK, a book both brilliant and scholarly and highly readable, the author plainly admires most of the actors and actresses Hitchcock cast in the films he discuses in detail. But there is only one performance he specifically praises--and that's Doris Day's in the context of a justly famous sequence (Albert Hall Concert), because her acting is so essential to the sequence's overall effect and the director really needed to depend on her and knew he could.

I really believe there have been few people in front of a movie camera ever who have been as talented as Doris Day. There is nothing she does not do well--musicals, comedies, dramas, singing, dancing, acting and just simply being.

I don't think there's much doubt now that all those awards people have wanted her to have--special Oscar, AFI, Kennedy Center or whatever--have only been denied because she will not show up to get them. But not having them will never make her less.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Laura said...


I so enjoy your comments! Your knowledge and love of films shows through in every one.

My dad doesn't comment here but reads daily, and I thought you might enjoy knowing he dropped me a line earlier today to say he agreed with everything you said in your last comment. :)

I appreciated you putting THE BIRDS and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH in context with one another re the child fear factor -- with that perspective, MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH doesn't sound so bad. I will definitely keep that title in mind for 2013!

Funny thing, I think most if not all of my children have already seen MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH! In fact they've tried out many of the Hitchcock titles ahead of me, encouraged in part by my oldest daughter taking one Hitchcock course in London and auditing another (taught by Drew Casper) at USC. And my son who just turned 14 has been a major Hitchcock fan for years now. :) I've added the title HITCHCOCK AT WORK to my reading wish list. Thank you! My dad just gifted us with a wonderful book, VERTIGO: THE MAKING OF A HITCHCOCK CLASSIC.

I especially enjoyed hearing your wonderful comments on one of my very favorite performers of all time, Doris Day. Speaking of Drew Casper, he loves her and is a Day expert. Here's a bit he said in an interview: "Looking at her on the screen made me feel lighter, happier. She conveyed, in film after film, a focus, an optimism that I hooked into and used as a role model. She had a smile that would light up New York City – what a way to meet the world. No matter, whether she was conned by men, or in unfortunate straits, she pulled through. The voice also sent me. When Doris sang, it was so intimate; you felt that she was singing just to you. And Doris could find the emotional key to a song and bring it out."

Best wishes,

7:21 PM  
Blogger mel said...

You can hear a new interview with Doris on NPR:

10:03 PM  
Blogger Blake Lucas said...

Hey, thanks for the nice comments, Laura.

I actually sat in on one of Drew Casper's classes one evening years ago (I believe this was musicals) and he was showing FUNNY FACE, but he had THE PAJAMA GAME on tap for the following week and proclaimed that he loved Doris Day and this was back at a time he felt a lot of people in his class wouldn't understand this but that they had to allow him that he did and he'd say more with the film. I enjoyed what you quoted from him above and agree with every word he said about her. Happiness should never be underrated, whether one feels it watching a movie or at any other time in life--it's precious and fleeting.

I'm guessing my deep affection for Day was probably born watching CALAMITY JANE back when it was first released. For some reason, the movie seemed to go out of circulation for a lot of years, then the late, lamented Vagabond which you've mentioned showed it so after something like 25 years I was able to see it again. When she sang "Secret Love" in that scene late in the film I cried. That one really, really gets me--I can't even completely explain why, except it's so beautiful, a beautiful scene and I just love the way she sings that song. It moves me so much; I guess I'm not alone.

I appreciated your Dad saying he agreed with my comments. I'm betting he is very proud of his daughter and all she does.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Mel, the NPR piece was fantastic! Thanks so much for sharing the link here. :)

Best wishes,

8:17 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Blake,

I appreciate your kind words very much, especially as I value your opinion greatly. :) Thank you!!

It's really wonderful that we've had some parallel experiences. My daughter took Casper's musicals class, where I got to sit in on Doris in MY DREAM IS YOURS, as well as June Haver & Co. in THREE LITTLE GIRLS IN BLUE. In pre-VHS and cable days I'm very fortunate that I grew up with my parents regularly driving up to L.A. to see movies at the County Museum, the Tiffany, and especially the Vagabond, where my many film-going experiences had such a big impact on my life. It was at both the Vagabond and the Wilshire where I first "met" CALAMITY JANE and wondered why I'd almost never heard before of something so wonderful.

I can definitely relate to your reaction to "Secret Love" -- as I wrote in my review of ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, when I saw that film for the first time in many years and Doris launched into "It's Magic," the tears flowed. (I find that I tend to tear up more when I'm happy watching a movie than when it's and good things evoke strong emotions.) ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, like CALAMITY JANE, is pure Happy. :)

Thank you again!

Best wishes,

8:35 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

P.S. Regarding my previous reference to the Wilshire Theatre, it was one of the more unusual places where I saw movies; it was located in Fullerton, California, and the theater seats were in a converted swimming pool! There was still a drain in the ground in front of the first row. :)

Best wishes,

9:33 AM  

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