Doris Day Movie Question...

Discussion in 'DVD' started by MarcoBiscotti, Apr 27, 2005.

  1. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    I was gonna pick up the 'Glass Bottom Boat' today, primarily for the MGM Chuck Jones short featured as an extra on the disc, but than I started checking out the covers to some of the other dvd's and caught names like Lauren Bacall and Kirk Douglas, etc. and my interest was peaked. I've never seen a Doris Day film personally and haven't really ever heard anything special about them so I wanted to ask what everyone's opinions are of these movies and whether you guys think the new boxset is worth picking up? I sort of had the impression for some reason that her films were sort of cheesy fluff comedies but maybe I've got the wrong idea... I dont only want to get biased opinions from the Doris Day fans, but let's hear some general feedback, what do you guys think..?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Thomas T

    Thomas T Cinematographer

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    Love Me Or Leave Me and Young Man With A Horn are not "fluff". They're heavily dramatic films in which music is in the forefront. Pajama Game is a musical but it does have some substance via a union vs. management plotline. Calamity Jane is a rousing musical in the vein of Annie Get Your Gun. The remaining three titles (Daisies, Jumbo, Glass) are indeed "fluff" but decent fluff.
     
  3. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    Take this opinion for what it's worth from a Day fan: much of what Doris made WAS cheesy fluff, albeit some of the best A-list cheesy fluff of it's day. One important thing to keep in mind is that after her WB contract ended she and her manager (and husband) picked projects based on her payday and projected "hit" quotient, and almost never with an eye toward cinema art.

    Be that as it may, your question is kind of loaded in the sense that it really depends on what kind of movies you like. From your question itself, I am most tempted to say give the set a miss, as you might be disappointed. Here are my brief views of the films:

    The Pajama Game, Calamity Jane and Billy Rose's Jumbo are delightful, lightweight musicals. If you don't like musicals (or like them a bit darker and more dramatic a la West Side Story), look elsewhere. These are strictly feel-good musicals. PG has great choreography by Bob Fosse, however.

    Lullaby of Broadway is total fluff. A technicolor creampuff that I would recommend only to Day fans.

    The Glass Bottom Boat is typical Frank Tashlin absurdist-kind of comedy, which isn't really my cup of tea, but it's very well played by the cream of that type of 60's slapstick.

    Please Don't Eat the Daisies is more my type of comedy, a funny and intelligent comedy loosely based on Jean Kerr's experience married to NY critic Walter Kerr. It's about how a new theater critic's prediliction to criticise everything and anything begins to affect his life and family. It really does "capture" some critics quite sucessfully; the kind who have to have the cleverest put-down and seem to never tire of hearing their own opinions. Day and Niven play very well together, and the film features a terrific performance from Janis Paige.

    I would venture a guess that the 2 films in the set that you might enjoy the most are Young Man With a Horn and Love Me or Leave Me.

    YMWAH is quite good. It's a nice, moody jazz story directed by Michael Curtiz, who first signed Doris to do films and directed her 4 times. Lauren Bacall plays the "bad" girl, with decidely lesbian undertones as it turns out. Great music as well.

    LMOLM is that rare Hollywood bio that is unafraid to show the leads as unsympathetic, especially at a time when bios practically canonized their subjects. Ruth Etting was a struggling singer who strings along a Chicago gangster just to further her career. She cares little that he genuinely loves her, and when she gets to the top she tries to dump him, but finds that harder than she ever imagined. Cagney and Day are both sensational in one of the most adult of the 1950s Hollywood bios.

    I think Doris is a very underrated and underappreciated actress, but I fear that if you don't like fluff, the balance of the box will disappoint you.
     
  4. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    There have been some terrific reviews for this box in newspapers and on TV. Check out Dave Kehr's piece in yesterday's NY Times (free with registration). Elvis Mitchell also had great things to say on the Today show yesterday morning.
     
  5. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    One other thing I'll throw out that may or may not mean anything to you, there are 2 20-somethings (one male, one female) in my office that are absolutely addicted to "Deadwood" and spend at least 2 lunch hours per week discussing the show in depth. They both just watched Calamity Jane recently for the first time, and I thought they were going to slam it and deride it compared to the grit of "Deadwood", but they both said they thought it was great, and that Doris was "hysterical" as Calamity. In fact, as I bought the set on my lunch hour yesterday, they each saw the Calam disc in there, pulled it out and said they'd like to get it themselves.

    Sometimes I forget that that film especially seems to play well with people who are either unfamiliar with Doris, or know her from some films and are surprised at her performance in CJ.
     
  6. george kaplan

    george kaplan Executive Producer

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    Her best film, in my opinion, hasn't been mentioned yet (unless I missed it): Pillow Talk.

    It's a comedy, and I'm sure that some call it fluff, but IMO, it's a great comedy.

    Some other excellent films not mentioned above:

    The Man Who Knew Too Much - a great Hitchcock thriller
    That Touch of Mink - another of her romantic comedies, this time with Cary Grant
     
  7. Roger Rollins

    Roger Rollins Supporting Actor

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    I agree PILLOW TALK is a delightful film, and she's wonderful in it.

    THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH is another wonderful, dramatic performance, and another Hitchcock masterpiece.

    But, aside from the previously available PAJAMA GAME and CALAMITY JANE, the new WB Day boxed set has 6 films ranging from delightful entertainment to cinematic gold.

    With prices as low as they are on this box at places like Amazon or Deep Discount, I can't recommend this set highly enough. WB has done another outstanding job.
     
  8. JohnMor

    JohnMor Producer
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    I've been lucky enough to see Pillow Talk several times on the big screen out here in LA over the last few years, and it still plays like gangbusters. The audiences really get into it and love the ride it takes them on. I've introduced several friends to it this way who were just amazed at how well the dialogue still plays and how great the performances are, especially on the big screen where so much of what is going on in the actor's eyes is much more palpable than it can be on TV.
     
  9. RyanZ

    RyanZ Stunt Coordinator

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    MGM had guts to make Love Me or Leave Me. In 1955, serious musical dramas just were not being made. Furthermore, Doris Day was cast completely against type. Fresh with freedom from Warner Bros., this role was her first opportunity to shape her future without a studio's guidance (she did have Marty Melcher, though). In the end, some of the most daring parts of the film, including the rape scene, were left on the cutting room floor, but audiences were still wowed by the explosive scenes. Love Me or Leave me was a hit, and earned $4,100,000 in US rentals, and millions more overseas. And Doris Day had a new identity - that of the legitimate actress. After Love Me or Leave, the roles grew more important and more dimensional, and Doris Day ended up with one of the most glorious careers in Hollywood history.
     
  10. MarcoBiscotti

    MarcoBiscotti Producer

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    Thanks everyone for all the insight!

    I didn't mean to say that I don't enjoy light-hearted comedy on occassion, I do very much. I'm just not a huge fan of those saccharine late 50's early 60's type of movies that are over-the-top though I can take them in small doses. I was just wondering if these movies were more along the lines of one of those corny Annette Funicello flicks or more on par with classic MGM musical comedies of the 40's. I enjoy lighter comedies with Don Knotts and even a handfull of the late 50's Disney features with are pretty candy-coated and often contain musical numbers, I just wasn;t sure what these would be like. I think I've read less than astounding reviews of Calamity Janes and some of the others so I was skeptical but based on your feedback and the overall price, I think I'll give it a shot. I'm interested in seeing at least a few of these movies so why not...

    Thanks again guys!
     

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