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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #10 (From CALAMITY JANE)

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1.    As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum?

The film represents a strong reflection of how a female performer can really take hold as a leading actor and how more women were becoming the focal point of the musical themes.

Why? Woman were becoming more independent and were eager for stronger character roles and could hold their own against the male performers. The economy was doing well and woman could choose their career rather than have it be assigned to them like what happened during WWII.

 

2.    How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?

Doris Day is one of my favorite actresses. In her early films she portrayed womanly, helpless characters; always acting how society expected her to act. Later years she would appear as a strong woman. Even in The Man Who Knew Too Much she was a very smart and talented wife and mother who had her own singing career.

 

3.    Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion?

Doris’ persona definitely adds to this role.  She is so animated and tight with her movements and shows a strong physical side during her scenes. Her strong voice matches her bright confident attitude, especially during her scene with Howard Keel in “I Can Do Without You”.

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1. I think Doris Day is representing women in a more unique way than other movies of the 1950s. During this decade, women were back to being portrayed as fragile and extremely feminine. Calamity Jane is nothing like that. She’s strong and her own person, she wears « the pants » and doesn’t allow any man to tell her what to do or who to be.

2. Before this musical, I’ve found Doris to play many happy go lucky characters (with the exception of STORM WARNING of course), whereas this part gave her much more depth. Later in her career, she went on to make movies such as YOUNG AT HEART, THE MAN WHO KNEW TO MUCH, and MIDNIGHT LACE, and even though she still has her bright personality, she does have some very good and convincing drama scenes in those films.

3. I think Doris’s bright and sunny personality adds to the role of Jane. You could tell she was a go-getter off camera, and so was Calamity. She had a big and loud personality, although it could be very Pollyanna-ish at times, exactly like Calamity when she makes the transition to a more feminine and vulnerable character in the film.

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I believe that since this is the early fifties, the character of Calamity almost mirrors what is happening in America. Women who worked mens jobs during the 40's while the men were away had a hard time adjusting to giving up their jobs and going back to life as housewives. I think this movie might have been appealing to women because Calamity only gives up some of her toughness and doesn't ever end up totally subservient or as a housewife. She still gets to do the job she loves and feels important. 

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As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?

I don't think it's easy to make an apples-to-apples comparison of this because there are different strengths and weaknesses when compared to female leads in other eras. In some ways, her character has a more brash, cruder persona than the leads of the 40's. But, in many ways, those more self-reliant women of the 40's weren't necessarily feeling the need to prove their worth as Ms. Day's character in this film does. That seems to imply more doubt about her own position. 

Those early 30's films showed women who were tough because of the extraordinary economic woes afflicting the country. They didn't have her need to prove their value on a gender basis but more on a basis that men seemed to call the shots.

The 40's women were not only self-reliant but also confident of their abilities because they had to be. I know from my own life that when things were easiest for me I tended to skate but buckled down when things have gotten tougher. Projecting that on to these women, I see more fluff in the late 40's. 

I guess the answer is Ms. Day, in terms of her own perceived power, is between on that spectrum, but closer to the fluff. Bravado seems to indicate weakness, kind of like a certain national political figure today.

How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?

I don't really have enough information on that point yet. Though I do remember her playing a role as a former singer mixed up with a questionable guy. Maybe her name was Ruth Etting or something like that. Compare this one to that role or her later Hitchcock appearances, she definitely brings more nuance later in her career. But, she was always cotton candy with a voice.

Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer.

It's perfect for the role. This is a Hollywood treatment of a mythical Western figure and as that implies whimsy in a musical. She fits perfectly with her over-the-top tomboyish performance. It's not believable, but it is funny and interesting. 

 

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1.  As the country moved past the need for strong women in the WWII era (think Rosie the Riveter), women's roles became softer and sweeter-except for Doris Day in Calamity Jane.  Although the character evolves in the film from the tomboy to a strong but more feminine woman, as evidenced in the two clips, we still see Doris day as the equal to any man character.

2.  In my opinion,much of Doris Day's career consisted of light but entertaining comedies, like Lullaby of Broadway which preceeded Calamity Jane and Pillow Talk, which followed years later.  The one exception, where she played drama and played it brilliantly, was Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much.  That and Calamity Jane were her best roles.

3.  I'm not sure that anyone other than the bright, sunny Doris Day could have played Calamity Jane as well or as endearingly.

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Daily Dose# 10

  • As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? Calamity Jane was a icon of feminism. That makes her stand out among the roles played by women. It is that women were meant to be sweet, soft, gentle, humble etc. This character was kind of rare for women. We could see that Calamity was the rough and tough chick who was a torchbearer of the West. Miss Day totally nailed it as Calamity.

 

  • How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Miss Day was an exceptional singer who began to act in films during the late 40’s. From there till Calamity Jane, I believe that her performances went on the right track. This is one of my favorite movie roles ever portrayed by her. That’s the one I liked about her.

 

  • Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer. Miss Day as a romp missy with rugged look make one think about the roughest, the toughest and the meanest cowboys. Well, she’s a hoyden cowgirl and she was literally “The Errol Flynn with a feminine touch”. Calamity Jane=Doris Day. 

 

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As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?

  • I think this character breaks out of the mold of the typical 1950's woman.  In the first scene, we see her braving the wilds of the territory protecting the stage from all who seek to take it over.  She climbs over the top of the carriage and then climbs down and back up.  She is dirty and her outfit is a typical male costume.  She is clearly in charge, which is a switch.    I believe it is done to show that women are emerging as leaders and not just a pretty face, but so much more.    

How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?

  • I feel like it allowed her to be more flexible in her roles.  She is wonderful in every movie I have ever seen.  

Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer.

  • I think it adds to it.  She is tough, but sweet and caring.  

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We saw Doris Day as Calamity Jane depicted very independent, masculine - wearing pants, “one of the boys”, riding the horse like a man, yet still the men felt they could laugh at her, and didn’t take her serious as a woman. This is very different than the representation of women in the 1950’s. Later she began to transform and appeared more feminine, but remains true to herself. To get her man, she had to soften the edges. 

Doris Day’s roles in the 1950s were carefree, upbeat and wholesome. She perfectly portrayed the tomboy, sweetheart of the romantic comedies, fit perfectly in a musical, and showed versatility in the serious roles later.

Her bright and sunny persona added to the role of Calamity Jane. It added to the fun for the audience watching as  the musical was meant to. The role wouldn’t have worked without it. She brought an enjoyment to the story apart from the tomboy gets her man in the end. 

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As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?

This character, Calamity Jane, ranks high in representing strength, a woman’s ability to do the things traditionally handled by men, and make changes to better her own life without compromising her ability to help others.

How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?

Doris Day managed to keep it real, keep it cute, and keep it fun. She was able to go from glamour to goop in a moment, from romantic to ridiculous in a heartbeat, and from serious to slapstick without a seam! She was an incredible actress. She grew as an actress right before our eyes mastering the subtle nuances needed to move from one type of scene to another, never letting her comedic side conceal the fact she was a “normal” woman with every day struggles…like how to be glamorous after ratting around with the children or dog ( in “don’t eat the daisies”) or the fact she had real level of intelligence in spite of the wacky things that keep happening and the false impressions people were left with because of them (lie in “The Glass Bottomed Boat”)

Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer.

It is my opinion her bright and sunny persona ADDED to the role of Calamity Jane. One of the things that goes hand in hand with this type of persona is the ability to laugh at one’s self…to laugh with others at life’s calamities without being hurt by the laughter. I don’t think it’s a coincidence the dialogue in this scene at the bar ends with Calamity Jane ACTUALLY saying “ ‘taint sa funny” . She isn’t saying falling on her rear wasn’t funny at all…she was able to agree the fall was funny, turn around to the bar…still hold her own as “one of the guys” and enjoy that sasparilly! I am sure this was one of her life’s attitudes.

Also, she was able to reign in her persona to meet the need of the moment. She couldn’t be more demure and alluring than when singing with Keel on that wagon on the way to the dance or while singing “secret love”.

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I think she shows that you can have a strong woman character that doesn't need a man but can want one just the same. I think her bright and sunny disposition adds to the character of Calamity Jane.  Her being positive adds to her strength 

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  1. Her character falls in the middle because she plays both masculine and feminine roles with the former leaned in the first half to the latter at the last half. I do see that she goes by Calamity Jane to try and fit in with the men who love adventure and action the great wild west and also sustain her independent thinking of being strong and proactive in the way she wants her life to be. But later on, she tries out the feminine side to see what it’s like for men to expect the support, but doesn’t let go of his masculine identity (still wearing the long pants) to retain her true self in some way. So it’s a balance for her to get what she wants or need to conform with the society’s gender roles expectations at that time. Overall, we see a different kind of woman not as much explored in the 50s films that portray women.
     
  2. I haven’t seen much of her films, but I do know my mom is a big Doris Day fan when she was young watching her films in the Philippines, so all I know from her is that she took on roles and improved her skills in shaping her own identity and strength, and also have a good laugh from her comedic moments. I know her more from her singing in the albums or iTunes I’ve bought. So I have no further comment on her acting unless I go watch them later on.
     
  3. I don’t think it detracts from her character because she doesn’t go full on traditional feminine as she still retains some part of her adventurous and strength in being true to herself. Her being a little nice and generous to others adds to her optimism of enjoying life to her fullest.

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1.  Doris Day's character in "Calamity Jane" is representative of the post-war, stronger woman.  I believe the female representation belongs at the later end of this period of musicals.

 

2.  Day definitely exhibits growth as an actress and musician in "Calamity Jane".  In this picture, her movements are border and more imaginative.  Her musical pieces are very different in style from her big band days.  the character, Jane, is so much more animated than Day's earlier and most of her later roles.

 

3.  Day's sunny disposition and personality lend themselves well to her portrayal of Calamity.  The main character, after all, is positive and determined.  She relies on these traits and a sense of humor to achieve her goals.

 

 

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Two quick thoughts:

  1. I think she can "get away" with some of the masculinity because there is a very front-burner female in the movie to say, "Of course, we haven't lost our minds. This female is successful throughout the film because, well, she acts right, throughout." I don't know if the studio would have permitted Doris Day to be so "free" if the movie weren't also sending the "girly-girl approval" message. But, Day as a powerhouse of the decade would be the one person to try any of this with.
  2. Awkward, but it was (rightly, I think) discussed in the lecture, so I'll just quickly say that in those clips, when Day is sitting with her legs apart, the fringes on her costumes act as a cover. Even in Secret Love, on the horse, she moves her sleeve into place, and the fringes from the sleeve do the job. Later, when she moves her arm, the camera's angle is edged up a tad. She still wasn't able to just sit how she would sit if she were really that much of a tomboy in real life. She wouldn't always be strategically covered by parts of her clothing. They used her costume to function like the shield a more overtly feminine character's clothing would be.

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  1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?

This is a new incarnation of the "tough broad" we see in the character roles of the 30s and 40s. Only instead of her independence being put away once a man comes along to rescue her, Jane maintains her core identity after she falls in love.  She makes adaptations - all characters change - but she doesn't completely reject who she is just for a man.  This isn't Sandy in "Grease."

  1. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?

She is no mere ingenue.  She displays a maturity, a worldliness, and more than a bit of sexuality as she develops both as an artist and as a person.

  1. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer.

Comedy is always one of the greatest challenges for an actor.  Musical comedy is about as hard as it gets.  She's a damn good actor.  Her own personality comes through in various scenes, which serves to make Jane a charming goof.  Then, when she goes through her transformation and softens up, Day is able to make that believable through her combination of talent and her own personality.

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1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?

Doris Day as Calamity Jane is definitely challenging the stereotypical role of females at this time. She is proud to be in charge of a responsibility that helps her community. She believes she's as good at what she does as any man, but she is not getting a whole of respect. This is probably the way many women who worked during WWI felt when the men came home and continued to feel into the 50s. But she doesn't give up.

2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?

She definitely gets into more sophisticated roles in the 50s. She always has the girl-next-door persona for me and a nice singing voice. There is nothing threatening about her. For me, she's kind of an All American Girl in an All American time. A product of the 50s.

3. Does Doris Day’s bright and sunny persona add or detract from the role of Calamity Jane in your opinion? Please defend your answer.

I think her bright and sunny persona in this role adds to the character of Calamity Jane. She looks happy and pleased with herself and the choices she has made and the job she is doing. 

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