Thursday, February 6, 2014

CALAMITY JANE 1953

A look at Doris Day’s filmography doesn't exactly yield (at least on the surface) a kaleidoscopic portrait of versatility when it comes to the kind of roles the extremely underrated actress has undertaken throughout her career. From her debut in 1948’s Romance on the High Seas, the studios made it their business to place Day in movies in which audiences were encouraged to partner the sunshiny implications of her alliterative stage name with the homespun effervescence suggested by her strapping good health; freckled, apple cheeks; and pleasantly toothsome smile. This, coupled with Day’s well-scrubbed sex-appeal, and soothing, honey-coated voice – which in spite of its clear-as-a-bell virtuosity, rarely strayed convincingly into the sultry or sensual – helped her to become one of the reigning boxoffice stars of the day (pun not only intended, but shoehorned). It also saddled her with an image of such strenuous and unrelenting wholesomeness that for years, the words “Doris Day movie” were a pop-culture punchline signifying a certain brand of clean-cut cinema artificiality.
Famously, director Roman Polanski used the term, “Like a Doris Day movie,” in describing the disconcertingly sunny look he wanted for the early scenes of Rosemary’s Baby; and only recently I've come to learn of the existence of the slang phrase, “Doris Day parking,” which apparently is the name given to a miraculously open parking space found exactly in front of the point of one’s destination. (An allusion to a familiar movie trope by no mean restricted to Doris Day films, in which characters always seem to find available, convenient parking near, or right in front of, the place they need to be…even in crowded cities.)

The rather tragic particulars of Doris Day’s real life, pooled with her personal values and a loyalty to her sometimes rabidly image-sensitive fanbase, has led Day, throughout her career, to shun some of the darker, more against-type  material offered her (Mike Nichol’s The Graduate, for example) that might have better showcased her range. (Fans reacted strongly to Doris smoking and drinking in Love Me or Leave Me, and as late as 1968, when the actress was well into her 40s, some fans bristled when, in her last film, With Six You Get Eggroll, her character – a widow, not the constant virgin she usually played –  goes to bed with Brian Keith before marrying.)
But Doris Day never set out to be a character actress. She was a star. And if the limitations of her squeaky-clean image and light-as-a-feather roles conspired to create in the public’s mind the impression that she was more a personality than an actress (especially during the “kitchen sink realism” era of the late 50s when her style of films began to fall out of favor), it’s nice to know that the passing of time has ultimately brought about a much-deserved reevaluation of her body of work. A reevaluation which rightfully places Doris Day amongst the most talented of Hollywood’s Golden Age stars.
Doris Day as Calamity Jane (nee Martha Jane Canary)
Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok (James Butler Hickok)
Allyn McLerie as Katie Brown
Philip Carey as Lt. Daniel Gilmartin
Calamity Jane, a tuneful, quadrilateral romance fashioned around the highly-fictionalized lives of real-life Old West figures, Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok, fools no one in its actually being a blatant, bald-faced, carbon copy of  Irving Berlin’s Broadway hit, Annie Get Your Gun, which Warner Bros. lost the screen rights to in a bidding war with MGM. The 1946 Ethel Merman musical was made into a film in 1950 starring Betty Hutton and Howard Keel; he playing essentially the same role he plays in Calamity Jane, albeit under a different name.
Dick Wesson as Francis Fryer
Calamity Jane was released to great success in 1953, and were not for the merit it earns on the strength of its own unique gifts, I’m certain its “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” similarities to Annie Get Your Gun would have branded it an embarrassing copycat. I've never read anything about what the creators of Annie Get Your Gun thought of Calamity Jane, but I’m surprised that two such similar products didn't lead to some kind of courtroom shootout at one time or another. That being said, as much as I like Betty Hutton (an acquired taste, to be sure) and think she acquits herself very nicely in a role she had to step into when an ailing Judy Garland was sacked, I much prefer the more modestly-budgeted Calamity Jane to Annie get Your Gun.
Deja Vu All Over Again
Howard Keel's face-off with Doris Day in the number, "I Can Do Without You," is a dead-ringer for Annie get Your Gun's "Anything You Can Do"
A staple of Saturday afternoon TV programming when I was a kid, Calamity Jane is the very first Doris Day movie I ever saw. And, discounting Love Me or Leave Me (1955) which features Day giving a standalone, powerhouse dramatic performance, Calamity Jane is my favorite of all of her films. Absolutely nothing else I've ever seen her in has matched Calamity Jane for flat-out, lift my spirits, always-puts-a-smile-on-my-face, double-barreled (to use the vernacular of the trailer) enjoyment.
Made at a time when original movie musicals were fast being replaced by adaptations of Broadway shows, Calamity Jane is, at 101 minutes, a brisk and snappy far cry from the butt-busting  roadshow behemoths that musicals would become in later years, and is an example of the Hollywood musical at its entertaining and  unpretentious, best. (Historical and artistic merit notwithstanding, I've never been too enthusiastic about the arty self-seriousness that overtook the movie musical in the post-Agnes de Mille/An American in Paris years).
Gale Robbins appears briefly as sagebrush songbird, Adelaid Adams
As befitting the time, the genre, and the film’s featherlight approach, Doris Day gives a performance that is oversized but never overdone. Liberated from having to be all sweetness and light, Day is allowed to give full vent to the tomboyish, outdoorsy quality (read: butch) that has always lurked beneath even her most glamorous screen appearances. Calamity Jane gives us a Doris Day at her most rambunctiously appealing, and, in being given lively support by a score of catchy songs by the Oscar-winning team of Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster (Love is a Many Splendored Thing), Calamity Jane ranks among a short roster of films I think provide near-ideal showcases for a particular star’s talents and strengths. A list that includes: Meet Me in St Louis for Judy Garland, Singin’ in the Rain for Gene Kelly, Funny Girl for Barbra Streisand, The Unsinkable Molly Brown for Debbie Reynolds, Mary Poppins for Julie Andrews, and Cabaret for Liza Minnelli. 
Doris Day croons the Oscar-winning song, "Secret Love"
Thanks to its gleefully butch heroine and subversively playful preoccupation with gender-normative behavior, Calamity Jane has grown into something of a Queer Cinema cult-favorite over the years. All that repressed, 50s-era skirting the issues of sex and gender allows for the contemporary attribution of gay-coding subtext  to the mismatched romances at the center of the plot. For years, "Secret Love" has been regarded as something of a gay anthem, with pop singer k.d. lang recording a rendition to play over the closing credits of the 1995 documentary, The Celluloid Closet.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS MOVIE
I’m not sure when it happened, but it has become a subtly dismissive form of insult to label anything as fun or purely entertaining. Pop stars Madonna and Lady Gaga became crashing bores after they stopped making infectious dance music and took up the mantle of serious artiste; likewise, Jerry Lewis ceased being even remotely funny (and he wasn't all that funny to begin with) once he and the French came to a meeting of the minds regarding his status as genius.
Pretentiousness and self-seriousness has killed a lot of what is lively about the lively arts, so when a film like Calamity Jane comes along, devoted as it is to providing its audience with a rollicking good time and plenty of toe-tapping music, it is by no means a minor statement to assert my fondness for this film chiefly because it succeeds in being such a cheerful and thoroughly captivating entertainment.
The Deadwood Stage (Whip-Crack-Away)
You'll have to look hard to find a sprightlier opening sequence for a movie musical than this bouncy, marvelously economical little ditty that gets across a staggering amount of expositional information while showing off Doris Day as a consummate musical performer. Her energy and charm is totally winning. And just check out how effortlessly she glides through Jack Donahue's athletic choreography and manages the timing of all those props!
The list of what works in Calamity Jane extends to the music (joyous, not a clunker in the bunch), performances (sharp as a tack), and pacing (glides along at a clip). But Calamity Jane starts out way ahead of the game by merely avoiding a few Musical 101 pitfalls that trip up filmmakers to this day:
Hire actors who can sing and dance
Seems a no-brainer, but after the mid-60s, Hollywood adhered to a perverse prerequisite of ONLY making musicals with individuals devoid of musical skill of any kind (see: Camelot, Man of LaMancha, Goodbye, Mr. Chips, Paint Your Wagon, Lost Horizon).
Give songs a melody
I’m not calling for nursery rhymes or jungles, but hummable tunes of the sort that made the songs from The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins ones children remembered and wanted to sing along with. Too many musicals today are hamstrung by over-sophisticated songs designed toward getting the composer a place on the Billboard charts ("Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas), or obvious Oscar-bait so lacking in distinction that the songs could be inserted into any number of films with no loss of relevance (pretty much everything written by Randy Newman).
Entertain
I don't mean keep it light or frothy; I simply mean keep in mind that things like pacing, good humor, and energy go a long way with audiences. When Vincente Minnelli excised each and every uptempo song from his film adaptation of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, one has to wonder, was it his express purpose for audiences not to have a good time?
Above: Character actor Dick Wesson's reluctant drag number, "Hive Full of Honey," is a comic highlight in Calamity Jane. Below: Wesson in drag again, fifteen years later in an episode of That Girl with Marlo Thomas.

PERFORMANCES
The price of being a Doris Day fan is having to resign oneself to the fact that only occasionally do her films measure up to her talent. Calamity Jane is such an occasion. Always a fine singer and actress, what’s impressive about Day in Calamity Jane is the sheer athleticism of her performance. Leaping about in form-fitting buckskin (which makes her resemble William Katt in Butch & Sundance: The Early Days) she displays a boisterous physicality that perfectly matches her full-throated brand of singing. A particular jaw-dropper is she's singing while sitting crossing-legged on the bar, then raises herself to he feet by pushing off of her ankles. Amazing!
My partner and I take particular pleasure in poking fun at Calamity Jane's over-emphatic, inconsistent western dialect; which consists of terms like "cigar-reets" and "sarsparilly," yet accommodates words like "malign." And don't get me started on her adjective/verb/noun formula for insults: "You mangy pack of dirt-scratchin' beetles!"
Growing up, strikingly handsome Philip Carey was more familiar to me as Granny Goose- the cowboy spokesman in a series of popular TV commercials for the potato chip company. But it was several years before I came to associate Calamity Jane's Katie Brown, engaging comedienne/singer/dancer Allyn McLerie, with Red Button's sardonic marathon dance partner in They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, or as Tony Randall's comically stern secretary, Miss Ruebner, on his eponymous 1976 sitcom.
On the topic of the natural beauty of the Dakota Black Hills, Calamity Jane inadvertently proves that a lack of education  (ignorance) has always played a big part in Manifest Destiny and the legacy of entitlement. I saw Calamity Jane at a revival  theater once where I'm happy to say this exchange was met with a deafening chorus of "boos"
Howard Keel (who always seems to be on the losing end of a battle in trying to navigate his lips over his gorgeous but sizable teeth) makes for a very appealing co-star. As was the case with Annie Get Your Gun, he has the curious ability of making chauvinism look charming.


THE STUFF OF DREAMS
It’s easy to see how Calamity Jane gained a reputation as a paean to gender independence and a coded, gay-identity musical viewed through the prism of 50s repression. The amount of time the film invests in comedy centered on identity, drag, and gender role reversal is certainly intentional, as are the gender-normative romantic complications that don’t quite gel: tomboyish Calamity is in love with hyper-masculine Lt. Gilmartin, who has eyes for ultra-femme Katie Brown. Calamity’s best buddy, Bill Hickok, relentlessly teases Calamity about her lack of womanly virtues, and he too is smitten with the girlish Katie. But the overall impression it leaves of being a film about the oppressiveness of traditional gender is wholly unintentional.
Hickok has to appear in public in female Native-American "drag" as a form of shaming
Calamity Jane doesn’t know it, but it sets up a “Born This Way” dynamic with Calamity’s character. She is happiest and most at ease when she is just being herself (the only person she knows how to be) and the fact that her natural way of living her life is labeled “masculine” comes as news to her…she’s just being Calamity. In fact, it’s not until she visits “Chicagee” and gets a dose of the crossed messages her demeanor and mode of dress elicit (women flirt with her, men regard her as either an unsophisticated male or female curiosity), that it evens dawns on her that there is a different way for a woman to be.
Wannabe showgirl/maid Katie returns to Deadwood with Calamity. And if the cohabitating pair are revealed to share a livelier and more palpable chemistry than what has thus far been exhibited by either of the women with their rather stiffish male love interests, that fact has nothing to do with what the film is trying to convey intentionally, but everything to do with the natural, unforced butch/femme magnetism of Doris Day and Allyn McLerie.
Female duets are rare in musicals, and McLerie and Day shine in the marvelous, "A Woman's Touch"
Sure, Doris Day arguably looks “better” to our glamour-trained eyes after she gets her feminine makeover, but Calamity never again appears as carefree or seems to have as much fun as she did in the earlier part of the film. The otherwise playful film suddenly gets all misty-eyed and slow, as if both Calamity and the movie itself are reined in by her corset.

In the end, heterosexual love wins out and the gender roles realign, but I don’t think it takes a Queer Eye to see that the two lantern-jawed males make a more appropriate-looking pair, just as the duo of Katie and Calamity look made for each other.
Seriously, who wouldn't have wanted to see these two hook-up?
Calamity Jane predates Some Like it Hot by five years, but both films, in poking fun at sex, cross-dressing, and gender roles, unintentionally - through their adherence to the standardized cultural norms of the day - make telling (and subtly subversive) statements about the liberating effect of not always having to conform to society's rules of accepted gender behavior.

Bonus Material
In 1963, Carol Burnett starred in a TV adaptation of Calamity Jane. See a clip HERE.

Philip Carey in a Granny Goose Potato Chips commercial  HERE 

In 1963 Doris Day teamed with Robert Goulet for a studio album of songs from Annie Get Your Gun. Listen to their duet "Anything You Can Do" HERE

Hear Gil Peterson sing "Secret Love" in The Cool Ones  HERE


Copyright © Ken Anderson

16 comments:

  1. Your reference to Doris Day's physicality made me think of the Ross Sisters' "Potato Salad", which gets truly unreal around 3:30.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1J3NLNWAPU#t=1m24s

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    1. Hi Allen
      Wow! That takes physicality to a whole new (and unsettling) level!
      I saw a clip of this number in "That's Entertainment 3" but seeing that "spider walk"from "The Exorcist"! And they can sing, too!

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  2. Secret Love is a gorgeous, gorgeous song, and would have been Day's signature tune if Que Sera Sera had not come along a few years later. The song, with its coded message within the lyrics, was appropriated by a gay community still deep in the closet in the 1950s, and became an anthem along with Garland's Over the Rainbow and later, Jerry Herman's I Am What I Am. "Now I shout it from the highest hills/Even told the golden daffodills." This is my favorite Doris Day song, and the movie is perfect 1950s fun. Calamity Jane is quite butch, actually, and a favorite among many of my lesbian classic-movie-watching friends!

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    1. Hi Chris
      Yes, it's a great song, and those anthem codes get less vague every generation. In my day it was Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out," and I imagine youngsters today have "Born This Way."

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  3. I finally managed to catch "Calamity Jane" for the first time, on 35mm print at the Astor Theatre some time ago. I did have some forewarning of its--ahem--"reputation", but nothing could have possibly prepared me for what I witnessed!

    Quite honestly, I can't imagine how all that sapphic subtext, in the scene where Calamity and Katie make over the house, was NOT flagrantly intentional! I mean, that whole scene, with the "Calamity and Katie" sign being the icing on the cake, was far and away the most blatantly lebsian thing I've seen in a movie that didn't involve simulated sexual activity between two women.

    The screen capture with Calamity and Katie sitting at the table says it all. As pretty and as feminine as she looks, Doris Day radiates a predatory butchness that totally blows the needle of the Crawford scale. One wonders what Miss Day herself made of all of this when she looked back on it all.

    Of course, much of the fun stems from knowing the period of the film's release, and said period's attitude toward gender roles and sexuality. Were something like this to be done today, it wouldn't have the same impact. But I derived great joy from watching "Calamity Jane", well aware of the fact it was a 1950s piece of cinema--context is everything. This is to say nothing of Dick Wesson--in the "Hive Full of Honey" scene--he looks for all the world like a refugee from Les Trockaderos!

    And if there's one thing that we need in cinema these days, it's more cowboys and cowgirls who talk in Calamity-speak--for no other reason than it's so much fun! Scriptwriters must have an absolute ball dreaming up those absurd insults. After all, why do our Old West characters need to sound so educated?

    A rather informative and entertaining review, Ken--in my opinion, "Calamity Jane" makes for a most appropriate follow-on from your previous subject, "Midnight Cowboy"!

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    1. Thanks, Mark
      I had a great time revisiting this movie. If I see it with friends, it never fails to spark discussion on how unintentionally revealing these old pop culture entertainments were. When movies think they are merely providing escapist fun, they frequently let their guard down and reveal a great deal more than intended. This is one of the gayest films ever released (and I think the only western movie I own outside of True Grit and McCabe and Mrs. Miller). Appreciate your comments, Mark!

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  4. Secret Love is a great song. When asked about it Doris told the story of the recording. She rode her bicycle early one morning from her home to the recording studio, laid the song down in one take and bicycled back home in time for lunch.

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    1. Hi Joel
      I remember reading that in her autobiography! Like Judy garland being trained in vaudeville and being able to belt out "The Trolley Song" in one take, Doris Day's years as a band singer must have made her a dream in the recording studio. I can only imagine the scope of technical wizardry that comes into play these days (there's a clip going around of Rihanna singing live ...Oh my lord)

      On the topic of "Secret Love", back in 2011 when Day was promoting her new album, she gave an interview to The Advocate. A legendarily guarded interview subject, she plays this exchange well, but pretty close to her buckskin vest.

      Advocate: One of your signature songs, "Secret Love," has been adopted as an anthem by the gay community. Were you aware of this, and how do you feel about having a song that's taken on such meaning for marginalized people?

      Day: I was not aware of that, but that's wonderful.

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    2. Regarding her quickie-recording of "Secret Love," I seem to recall that her other signature song, "Que Sera Sera," was one that she didn't care for at all and was reluctant to sing. After doing it only once, under pressure, she remarked something like, "Well that's the last you're ever going to hear of that song!" Then, of course, it became so closely identified with her and (I presume) she wound up at least tolerating it, if not outright liking it.

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    3. Ha! I think you're right, Poseidon. I do recall reading with amusement (maybe in her autobio) how she wasn't immediately taken with the song that came to be so closely associated with her. Makes me wonder how Liza feels about "Cabaret"!

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  5. I'm with you there on the decline of the American musical after Agnes DeMille/American in Paris - I really feel that 'Oklahoma' took the fun and exuberance out of musicals (the way I also feel that a composer like Sondheim seems to want to emphasize his own cleverness and intellectual cool rather than just writing a good song). I tend to find such behemoths as 'Gigi' or 'My Fair Lady' almost anti-musical - there's NO dancing, and the songs stress beautiful vocalizing over rhythm and energy. I'll take a good fast tap number any day!

    I love Doris Day, too, and I think she's been so underrated in her career. When given the chance, she could bring drama and nuance to her roles (as in the '56 version of 'The Man Who Knew Too Much'). She seems to have played with her 'butch' persona in several musicals throughout her career, as in 'Romance on the High Seas,' 'On Moonlight Bay,' & 'By the Light of the Silvery Moon' - she'll be very assertive and almost pugnacious, or frequently dressed in jeans and lumberjack shirts while doing male chores. In a weird way, I think her butchness is the flip side of her sunny/optimistic personality, or maybe I should say that one accompanies the other. There's something aggressive about Day onscreen; her optimism and high spirits seem charged with testosterone. I think 'Calamity Jane' is the inevitable meeting point of these traits; by putting her in buckskin trousers it becomes 'safe' for her to act this way - we can all dismiss it as tomboy behavior and once she grows up, she'll act like a lady. So by making Doris Day into the virginal and sexless Little Miss Sunshine, she can be 'normalized' into the mainstream (a truly energetic and dominant woman would be TERRIFYING!). Oddly, Day also played with gender inversion in her films with her best-known leading man, Rock Hudson - he's often the neurotic male (eg, 'Send Me No Flowers') against her level-headed femaleness - and 'Pillow Talk' even hints at Hudson's real gayness when his character plays 'gay' to gain Doris' sympathy. Oh, the 50s were an interesting decade!

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    1. Such a terrific assessment of Doris Day and her unique appeal! I’m always getting emails from readers telling me what a kick they get out of the thoughtful and informative comments on my site, and yours is a shining example. I really think you’ve nailed that co-existing femme/butch thing about so many of Days’ roles. Especially those early period musicals that attempted to mine the same homespun quality as “Meet Me in St. Louis.” Until you brought it up, I can’t say I’d ever paid much attention (subconscious, perhaps) to how often her tomboyish side is woven into her screen characterizations.
      I also love that you note –correctly, I think – that a dominant woman like Day who didn’t somehow “outgrow” her boyish aggressiveness before fadeout would be TERRIFYING! Still, I’m glad that you’re among the many who feel she is largely an underappreciated actress. She is really great in “the man Who Knew Too Much.”
      And as much of a Sondheim fan as I am, I do wish he would calm down a bit and just give us some lovely melodies every now and then. He may get a kick out of his quiz-master approach to songwriting, but it can wear me out. Thank you very much for sharing your interesting and well-considered thoughts on Doris Day and the state of the movie musical!

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  6. I haven't seen "Calamity Jane" but I want to now after having read your excellent review of it. It looks like it was filmed in glorious technicolor. I did not know it was a rip off of "Annie Get Your Gun" (but just as good) or that Hollywood stopped making as many original movie musicals in the 1950s. Wouldn't "Calamity Jane" make a good Broadway musical (maybe it all ready is)?

    I Always find it fascinating when golden age Hollywood films seem just a little queer. Is Jane's butchness largely accepted by her surroudings in the beginning of the movie? I suppose it was ok to show people being a bit strange just as long as they changed their ways in the end.

    Doris Day is an underrated actress. I want to see her glamour comedies of the early 60's again. Wasn't she at the height of her fame then? It's amazing that she's till alive today and that she did not make another movie after 1968!
    -Wille

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    1. Hi Wille
      If you’ve never seen “Calamity Jane” I think you’re in for a treat! It does have a marvelous, old-fashioned Technicolor (Warnercolor?) look about it, and it really does have the feel of an adapted theatrical production. In fact, my partner and I saw a local stage production of it here in LA several years ago. Apparently this was the 1963 headed-for-Broadway show that closed on the road before it ever got there (the Carol Burnet televised version). It had been padded out with more songs, but without Doris Day’s energy it REALLY feels like a copy of “Annie Get Your Gun.”
      A search on Google tells me that it has been mounted as a stage show many times over the years.

      By the way, that point you made: “ I suppose it was ok to show people being a bit strange just as long as they changed their ways in the end,” is absolutely brilliant. It’s the cornerstone to all the subversive comedy that came out of the repressive 50s and 60s. “Different” was allowed to exist in movies for sake of conflict or comedy, but things always had to be returned to “normal” by fade out. I’m not sure I can even recall a film in which a character who doesn’t fit in is allowed to remain the same. They usually have to conform in some manner.

      What’s curious in “Calamity Jane” is that she IS largely accepted as she is by the townsfolk. It’s only when she seeks to gain the affections of a man does she come under pressure to alter her appearance.

      Doris Day was indeed very popular in the 60s, her career revitalized by those sex comedies she did with Hudson/Garner, et. al. Her last film, “With Six you get Eggroll” is one of my favorites, but I’m the first to admit that movies were moving forward and by that time Doris Day’s image (and that fake-glossy look of her movies) were really looking like something out of a museum. Too bad she was so reluctant to change, but in her bio she expressed a distaste for the direction movies were headed and was happy to retire.
      Our loss.

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  7. Finally watched this today. I hadn't seen it in years and, despite being a HUGE Doris Day fan, I didn't remember liking it all that much. I must say I thought most of it was terrific -- the score is outstanding, as are the color, costumes, and pacing -- and Doris is just fantastic in it -- a much more layered performance than I'd remembered; she really seems to find the truth in the character. And that's what makes the pat ending so difficult to believe -- I'm talking specifically about the moment when all of a sudden best buddies Calamity and Bill realize that they actually love EACH OTHER. I did. not. buy. it. In fact, my reaction was actually "Eww, no way!"

    I'd forgotten too how strong the supporting cast is, particularly Allyn McLerie, who was the original Amy (as in, "Once in Love With...") in Where's Charley. I love that moment when she's suddenly given the opportunity to perform on stage as Katie Brown and BOOM -- she's a sexy, confident showgirl who dances like a pro. (I'd forgotten that there's some great dancing in this movie -- Doris's little tap dance in "Windy City" is fantastic and she rarely got to dance much after this movie which is sad, since she was a trained dancer.)

    I also loved Dick Wesson's drag number early on -- so well done. I would have like more of him in the movie, frankly.

    Naturally, this move is as racist as every other cowboy and indians movie of the period, but if you can deal with that, it's awfully entertaining and so professionally done -- great rainy-day fun!

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    1. Hi Peter! That's wonderful that you revisited this film and found it to be more enjoyable than you'd remembered it. I think it holds up remarkably well.
      I love the point you make about the film's pat ending and genre-mandated romantic pairings. I agree, there's something about it that doesn't ring true, and I think you nailed it in citing Day having found the truth in her character.
      She creates such a real character in Calamity...one comfortable enough in her own skin to know her own mind, that the forced romance she has with Bill FEELS forced. We have eyes in our heads and she clearly has the best rapport with Katie.

      Speaking of which, thanks for giving a shout out to the supporting players. Both of their numbers are terrific (I especially like how the Francis Fryer character gradually starts to get into the swing of his drag persona before his wig comes off).
      And yes, Doris never danced enough in her films. She's so good here.
      Good to hear from you, Peter and thanks for sharing your thoughts on what you so rightly describe as a great rainy day movie.

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