The “missing” Doris Day movie!

3 Stars

I’m an unapologetic Doris Day fanboy and own every one of her movies on DVD or blu ray as well as all five seasons of her TV show (which is pretty dreadful actually but I want my Doris!). The one Doris Day movie missing in action is Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? (1968). It’s an MGM film which means Warners owns it now. It never made it to laser, DVD and now blu ray. Does anyone know for sure why it’s missing in action? Poor elements? Rights issues? Has it ever shown on TCM?

I want my DD collection to be complete! :(

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Kevin Collins

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52 Comments

  1. JohnMor

    A terrible, terrible film, but as a Doris Day completist, I’d buy it on dvd or blu. Great cast, but every one wasted.

    I remember it as being moderately enjoyable but I haven't seen it since it came out in 1968! If you want to talk terrible, my nominee for Day's bottom of the barrel ….. The Ballad Of Josie. And yes, I own it. Like you, I'm obviously a DD completist.
    🙂

  2. FWIW, this film isn't listed on the "Movie Collector" database of films that have been shown on TCM since 1994. (For those of you interested, here is the link – http://www.moviecollectoroh.com/reports.htm). It is interesting that the film didn't even get an airing in 1994 when other currently MIA films like The Perfect Specimen, Ceiling Zero, and The Trial of Mary Dugan received airings. I would imagine there probably are some rights issues involved – probably music or literary. I see that there was a VHS release probably in the early nineties. Has anyone asked the Warner Archive folks about the film?

  3. This one has been on my radar recently as I am also a Day completist. The only thing I could find for purchase are P/S VHS and unauthorized DVDs that appear to be from a widescreen telecine. In 10+ years of watching the TCM schedule, as well as many other cable channels, I never saw it scheduled to air. i can't imagine it is worse than Move Over Darling and Do Not Disturb which I find as lousy as Josie.

  4. Thomas T

    I'm an unapologetic Doris Day fanboy and own every one of her movies on DVD or blu ray as well as all five seasons of her TV show (which is pretty dreadful actually but I want my Doris!). The one Doris Day movie missing in action is Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? (1968). It's an MGM film which means Warners owns it now. It never made it to laser, DVD and now blu ray. Does anyone know for sure why it's missing in action? Poor elements? Rights issues? Has it ever shown on TCM?

    I want my DD collection to be complete! 🙁

    I actually saw this in New York and recall that I did not like it. For you sake, I hope it appears eventually.

  5. re: rights issues. I double checked and Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? is apparently based on a French play called Monsieur Masure by one Claude Magnier. So I would assume that either Mr. Magnier or more likely his estate is responsible for the rights issues. It wouldn't be the first time an author's estate has held up a release. Reputedly the William Inge estate's demands are the reason The Dark At The Top Of The Stairs (1960) has never seen a laser/DVD/blu ray release.

    An aside note, on another thread Renata Adler former film critic of The New York Times was being discussed and not favorably either as she disliked many critics darlings and fan favorites like 2001 A Space Odyssey and The Lion In Winter among others. She actually gave Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? a positive (for her) review.

  6. How can someone not love Move Over Darling? I don't get that at all.

    JohnMor

    I read some sort of rights issues. I’ll see if I can find what I read. A terrible, terrible film, but as a Doris Day completist, I’d buy it on dvd or blu. Great cast, but every one wasted.

    Even the title is a wasted opportunity. Anyone familiar with Doris Day comedies will immediately be imagining the potential with a movie centered around the famous blackout in the Northeast during the mid 1960's (Or at least I sure did).

    Such a disappointment in so many ways.

  7. BobO’Link

    I actually like her TV show… well… most of it… It's fairly typical of that era of TV sitcom.

    It was inconsistent and they never quite found the right approach. It started off as a rural comedy with Doris as a widow with two kids on a farm then suddenly the kids and the farm disappear without explanation and Doris lives in a posh San Francisco loft apartment with no kids and a glam wardrobe! Meanwhile, at the office, the actors playing her boss and friends are replaced with regularity like light bulbs!

  8. My very first pilot was a spin-off of The Doris Day Show, produced by her company. We did two version – a standalone without her, and then one in which she appeared in a couple of scenes with the two stars of the pilot. She came to the set one day – what a treat it was to meet her. And the pilot and series versions are on the DVD.

  9. Thomas T

    It was inconsistent and they never quite found the right approach. It started off as a rural comedy with Doris as a widow with two kids on a farm then suddenly the kids and the farm disappear without explanation and Doris lives in a posh San Francisco loft apartment with no kids and a glam wardrobe! Meanwhile, at the office, the actors playing her boss and friends are replaced with regularity like light bulbs!

    As I (vaguely) recall, there was at least some continuity between the first and second seasons, in that the farm still technically existed, and Doris still had her two sons (And grandpa living on the farm, I think!), while she commuted to her job in the city, via the Golden Gate Bridge, as shown in the Season 2 opening credits.

    I believe it was when Doris's boss Mr. Nicholson (MacLean Stevenson) got replaced by Cyril Bennett (John Dehner), that her boys and all traces of her life on the farm magically disappeared! I didn't like the show as much, after that.

    CHEERS! 🙂

  10. Tony Bensley

    I believe it was when Doris's boss Mr. Nicholson (MacLean Stevenson) got replaced by Cyril Bennett (John Dehner), that her boys and all traces of her life on the farm magically disappeared! I didn't like the show as much, after that.

    LOL! That's when I really started to enjoy it. It began to resemble her movie comedies more, and I liked that.

  11. Tony Bensley

    As I (vaguely) recall, there was at least some continuity between the first and second seasons, in that the farm still technically existed, and Doris still had her two sons (And grandpa living on the farm, I think!), while she commuted to her job in the city, via the Golden Gate Bridge, as shown in the Season 2 opening credits.

    I believe it was when Doris's boss Mr. Nicholson (MacLean Stevenson) got replaced by Cyril Bennett (John Dehner), that her boys and all traces of her life on the farm magically disappeared! I didn't like the show as much, after that.

    CHEERS! 🙂

    I read that the switch from the farm to posh, sophisticated city life, was connected to the CBS rural purge.

  12. BobO’Link

    Yes, but I don't think she'd have been right for The Graduate. That role is pretty much the antithesis of everything she'd done.

    Which is exactly why she turned it down. But I think that was a mistake. I think she would have been terrific in The Graduate. Day had done "darker" roles before in films like Storm Warning, Love Me Or Leave Me (where she was essentially James Cagney's mistress), Man Who Knew Too Much, Julie, Midnight Lace etc. It would have brought her to a new generation of moviegoers who thought Doris Day movies were strictly for their parents. It's no coincidence that Day's career stalled in the era of movies like Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider and They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

  13. Speaking of lost opportunities for Day, I once had a dream where she and Elvis were in a movie together, set in Africa, being directed by Henry Hathaway. Elvis had his trendy safari jacket on and Doris was wearing a green business suit like she might have worn in one of her Madison Avenue comedies. When I woke up, I wondered why not a Doris/Elvis team-up–with songs? How cool would that have been?

  14. Vic Pardo

    I wondered why not a Doris/Elvis team-up–with songs? How cool would that have been?

    Yeah, like a musical version of A Streetcar Named Desire with Doris as Blanche and Elvis as Stanley with songs by Burt Bacharach and Hal David ….. or maybe not:eek:

  15. Thomas T

    Which is exactly why she turned it down. But I think that was a mistake. I think she would have been terrific in The Graduate. Day had done "darker" roles before in films like Storm Warning, Love Me Or Leave Me (where she was essentially James Cagney's mistress), Man Who Knew Too Much, Julie, Midnight Lace etc. It would have brought her to a new generation of moviegoers who thought Doris Day movies were strictly for their parents. It's no coincidence that Day's career stalled in the era of movies like Midnight Cowboy, Easy Rider and They Shoot Horses, Don't They?

    I agree. And I think it would have added an additional subliminal level to the film it didn’t have otherwise (beyond the obvious comments on generational differences): a comment on America itself changing from the 50s to the 60s. Here is Amderica’s “girl next door” who grew up to be the married woman next door seducing your son. That’s something that only would have been felt by audiences at the time, but still a fascinating layer to the “what if” of The Graduate.

  16. Just goes to show how our minds can play tricks.
    I thought I had all of Doris Day's output either on DVD or BluRay.
    Not true! I do have this film, but only on VHS dating from 19/12/1992 from Channel 4 here in the UK.
    Here's another vote for an official release.

  17. Josh Steinberg

    I do! It's not currently hooked up, but I keep it pretty close by so that I can press it into service if necessary.

    Come to think of it, my sister has one of those DVD/VHS combo players (which she rarely uses and has no intention of upgrading to blu). I usually bring some movies up to watch for Christmas (I live in L.A., she lives in the San Francisco area) but for some reason, the machine will not play Warners MOD discs or region free DVDs. Go figure!

  18. Thomas T

    Come to think of it, my sister has one of those DVD/VHS combo players (which she rarely uses and has no intention of upgrading to blu). I usually bring some movies up to watch for Christmas (I live in L.A., she lives in the San Francisco area) but for some reason, the machine will not play Warners MOD discs or region free DVDs. Go figure!

    Warner Archive actually does warn on their website – or at least they used to – that MOD discs may not play on certain DVD recorders. I think it has something to do with the copy protection utilized. For not playing region free discs, that's a little surprising, it could be that the discs have an improper flag somewhere in the authoring that is confusing the player.

  19. Thomas T

    Do people still have VHS players? 🙂 Anyway, I don't have one and even my laser disc player has gone to laser heaven (though I suppose it's still repairable).

    I have several working VHS players and I use one of them quite often. I have tons of things I want to see that I only have on VHS. And many are not available in any other format.

  20. I have two working VHS players. All of the stage shows that I appeared in during the 1980s and 1990s were videotaped, and I have never bothered to have them transferred to DVD. I also have a few videotapes of Deanna Durbin movies, a homemade copy of Lady in the Dark with Ginger Rogers, and other unreleased on disc items that I find the VHS players useful for.

  21. Heavens, I still have about 500 vhs tapes. They include a lot of old off-air tapings of movies that remain extremely uncommon, like "Security Risk" (1954), "The Man is Armed" (1956), "The Cruel Tower" (1956), or some old tv-series that still never made it to dvd, like "Empire" (1962-63) or "The Dick Powell Show" (1961-63). Plus, there are just so many movies I obtained on tape which not only have never been released, but likely haven't even aired anywhere in well over 30 years… films like "Lady Bodyguard" (1941), "Her Adventurous Night" (1946), "Florida Special" (1936), "Killer at Large" (1947), "No More Women" (1934), "Yellow Fin" (1951), and so many, many others.

    True, the quality of those old tapes now looks pretty lamentable on these new hi-def sets. But I still need a VCR to access all that stuff.

  22. I have about 1800 VHS and Betamax tapes and for a smallish number of titles on them, that is my only source to see obscure, unreleased films. Better on a DVD or a BluRay? Absolutely, but beggars can't be choosers!

  23. Matt Hough

    I have two working VHS players. All of the stage shows that I appeared in during the 1980s and 1990s were videotaped, and I have never bothered to have them transferred to DVD.

    I have several tapes on VHS that I really should get transferred to DVD as I have no way of playing them. They include my first professional job (a local commercial), the first movie where I had lines and a videotape of a stage production of Twelfth Night where I played Sir Andrew Aguecheek, my favorite part.

  24. Nick Eden

    I have about 1800 VHS and Betamax tapes and for a smallish number of titles on them, that is my only source to see obscure, unreleased films. Better on a DVD or a BluRay? Absolutely, but beggars can't be choosers!

    Oh I absolutely hear you! I have many P&S and public domain DVDs (scratches, poor color, soft transfers etc.) in my collection because as you say, it's the only source to see certain films. Sure, I'd like spiffed up restored versions in their original aspect ratio but until that happens, they'll have to do. For me, it's always about the movie rather than the demand for perfection. When I see a remark (like I've actually read on the HTF) like "Oh, after blu rays, I simply cannot watch DVDs anymore!", I have to scratch my head. To me, that is not a true film lover who will enjoy watching a favorite film on a P&S VHS or mediocre transfer on DVD if that's the only way.

  25. Thomas T

    Oh I absolutely hear you! I have many P&S and public domain DVDs (scratches, poor color, soft transfers etc.) in my collection because as you say, it's the only source to see certain films. Sure, I'd like spiffed up restored versions in their original aspect ratio but until that happens, they'll have to do. For me, it's always about the movie rather than the demand for perfection. When I see a remark (like I've actually read on the HTF) like "Oh, after blu rays, I simply cannot watch DVDs anymore!", I have to scratch my head. To me, that is not a true film lover who will enjoy watching a favorite film on a P&S VHS or mediocre transfer on DVD if that's the only way.

    Well said, Thomas. The only way I can get to see The Hell With Heroes is by playing a DVD-R I made by transferring a VHS off-air TV recording to disc.

  26. I remember when we had to use "rabbit ears" to get the best reception, which was none too good for certain channels, and then watch the movie pan-and-scanned with commercials and cut to fit a two-hour time slot. That was how I first saw CITY FOR CONQUEST (1940) and it remains one of my favorite movies. (Although I have it on DVD now.)

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