Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Doris Day Has Personality Video

My tribute to Hollywood's Golden Girl (literally, as Doris Day was the #1 Box Office star for four years in the early 1960's, and didn't do too much worse a lot of other years) is up over here at YouTube (choose the "Watch in High Quality" option for best results).

Spending the last couple of weeks piecing together my video salute to the talented and lovely Ms. Day allowed me the opportunity to review a lot of this versatile performer's work. Some musings:

Day was a true pro. Watching the woeful 1954 outing Lucky Me, damned if Doris doesn’t seem intent on doing her best, regardless of the sub-standard material. She comes across as cheerful and skillful doing material most performers could be forgiven for looking depressed trying to put over. However, Day keeps strutting her stuff as if she's the lead in South Pacific (as she should have been, but that’s another story), putting her musical numbers over with verve and providing the film with its sole grace note.

Day’s abilities as an actress often come under fire, especially in the lightweight sex comedies that eventually killed off much of the reputation she’d built as a solid screen performer during the first ten years of her movie career. However, I often find her occasional mugging in comic roles appealing and amusing- her wit’s fairly quick most of the time, and she knows how to gets her laughs. In her best (non-sex) comedies (Teacher’s Pet, It Happened to Jane, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies and The Thrill of it All come to mind) the mugging’s at a minimum, and Day’s just about perfect.

Day’s singing brooks no criticism. Listening to her (backed by Harry James) in Young Man With A Horn singing “With a Song in My Heart” would make those angels we have heard on high jealous. In this area of her career Day rarely, if ever, hit a false note.

Day and Rock Hudson had at least as much fun working together as any other great screen team- looking for upbeat clips to use in the video, nearly every scene I watched featuring Day and Hudson found them glowing and laughing at each other to a fare-thee-well. Even when Day and Hudson’s characters are bickering away, the chemistry’s still there, making an audience believe Day could somehow end up happily ever after with the charming, womanizing cads Hudson plays in Pillow Talk and Lover Come Back.

At her best, Day makes George Michael’s claim that anyone could make the sun shine brighter than her seem sacrilegious. She’s still going strong at 84 and has received a Cecil B. DeMille Award from the Golden Globes and, more recently, a richly deserved Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, but the Academy Awards and the Kennedy Center have neglected to bestow similar honors on Day. Get with it, people.


At 2:21 PM, Blogger Driver said...

Hi, V's P!

I am also the world's biggest underground Doris Day fan. Perhaps I should say Doris Day Respector and Admirer. I would have to agree that she never sang a wrong note and was never anything but the one to watch in any scene she was in.

Some guy in People magazine said Meg Ryan's face reflected "twice as much light" as the average person, a tribute to her complexion. Doris Day had that quality too, all over. Musta been an aura.

At 10:55 PM, Blogger CanadianKen said...

To my mind - and those of many others, I'm sure - Judy Garland and Doris Day were the greatest all-round performers the movie musical ever knew. But Judy had MGM's dream team to enhance her; Doris was stuck at Warners, a studio where - as far as musicals went - creativity basically evaporated with the end of the Busby Berkeley era.Inexplicably, they got it together in '53 for the marvelous "Calamity Jane". But I'd say it was the only musical Day made that was actually worthy of her awesome gifts. Still, you're so right, she consistently gave her all - even in stinkers like LUCKY ME. And she definitely deserved an Oscar nomination in '59. Not for PILLOW TALK but for her beautifully on-the-button work opposite Jack Lemmon in IT HAPPENED TO JANE. She was generally a joy in her 60's comedies - certainly mid-60's makeup, fashions and hairstyles showcased her at her loveliest. And check out Episode One, Season One of her TV series - where her two little boys take her out to dinner at a rough-and-tumble roadside diner. Doris is a dream in it, filling the 23 minutes or so with a concentrated display of the charm, warmth,comic timing and charisma that fuelled her long reign as America's favorite star.

At 9:42 PM, Blogger Pope Buck I said...

The way I've always heard it, the Academy has offered (or been prepared to offer) her a Special Oscar several times over the years, provided that she would turn up in person to accept it on the Oscar telecast. She's always refused - accounts differ as to why. The two most popular supposed reasons: (1) She would prefer people to think of her the way she appeared; or (2) she is afraid of appearing before crowds.

Either way, she prefers to live quietly and do her extensive charity work with animals.

At 7:17 AM, Blogger wonderful woman said...

DD is fabulous and very addictive. I have to tell you - this is the best blog name EVER. Plus 'Hi, I'm gay and you can be too' may be the best profile intro ever.

At 9:45 AM, Blogger bryan doesn't blog much said...

Doris Day has a lot of secret love(ers) but I've been a proud-and-out Day fan for quite some time. True, a how-cool-am-I? checklist would not normally include her, especially for someone like myself who also liked the Sex Pistols at the same time. But then a point came where I just thought "Get over it - you're a fan" and stopped worrying about what other people thought. Liberation.

Speaking of "Lucky Me", Doris didn't want to make it but her contact obliged her to do it. I think it's a underrated classic of the trype - Freudian typo - TYPE of musicals they were doing at the time.
I've just interviewed David Kaufman about his book, "Doris Day - The Untold Story of the Girl Next Door", if anyone is interested:

Nice blog.

Bryan James


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