Dr. Vanessa Theme Ament

DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #10 (From CALAMITY JANE)

240 posts in this topic

1. The character of Calamity Jane is different than other female characters from the 1950s. She is more stronger, independent and has more freedom. Calamity Jane also does not sacrifice anything for anybody and still stays true to herself even though she did make some chances to her personality. She also isn't extremely feminine, and even when she does soften her look she still has the tomboy look. 

2. I have not seen many films with Doris Day but the ones that I did watch usually show her ability total on any role and she does it in a great way. Her characters are usually fun and likeable. And she always adds humour and some psychical comedy in her films. 

3. I personally believe that Doris Day's sunny personality makes her character more likeable. You can't help but like the character and you can never say anything bad about the character.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Zea said:

Question 2 & 3:  

Doris Day, as much as I admire her personally and would run & wait in line at Radio City Music Hall to see her latest film & still enjoy them on TCM, was never a great actress. Marginal, yes. No matter what character Day portrayed, you were always aware it was Day. A good actor should pretty much disappear in a role so all you're aware of is the character on screen, not the actor portraying the character.  Some actors are just unable to do that. Some because their off-screen personna is so dominant; others because their acting is just not that good to rise above themselves and/or because they just try too hard, aka: overacting. That was Doris.  Doris was Doris was Doris in "Tea For Two", "Young At Heart", "Pillow Talk", "Teacher's Pet", "Midnight Lace" & scads of others.  But if you loved her & most of her movies, it didn't matter. You almost depended on Doris being Doris because it strangely added to your enjoyment of the movie. 

 

 

 

Agreed. You named two my favorite Day films in which she didn't sing in the context of the movie, but would watch the film over and over again ("Teacher's Pet" (1958) and "Midnight lace" (1960) - I guess I just like "Doris being Doris!"

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've always felt that Doris Day doesn't get enough credit as an actress.  I feel overall she is terribly typecast, and the examples of clips here allow more of her strengths to shine through. I'd have to agree with some others who commented that The Man Who Knew Too Much and Love Me or Leave Me are both excellent examples of her depth as an actress. I even like her in Midnight Lace although I don't like the movie itself.  As a musical performer, she is outstanding as well. 

As Calamity Jane, she is portraying some of the reality that women continued to experience as they stepped out into the work world even as they were being to stay at home now that the the men were home. Day's stock character is the single working girl, so Calamity Jane, in a way is her character Day's stock character in the West. Not elegant and squeaky clean like her she became iconic for, but certainly an independent working girl. It is unfortunate that the 50s needed to undercut this through the choreography and shuffling of her to the back of the bar when the boys are feeling their oats. It's also a little unfortunate that both Calamity Jane and Annie Oakley as characters are presented as dirty and unkempt in the beginning to make them unfeminine. Total 50s bias in this depiction.  Both characters could be rowdy, tough and still be clean.

Also unfortunate that Day's Calamity Jane goes through the transformation experience and ends up somewhere in between the glamorous femininity the 50s demanded and winds up a modified version of her original Jane. Having earlier been told by the instructors that individuality is sacrificed for the greater good of the whole in the 50s, I'd say Jane's final persona fits the 50s perfectly.  The clip and movie show Day's range whereas the directors and producers casting Day in her career, overall, didn't allow her to show maturation as an actress. Some of her work with Cary Grant, James Garner, and Jimmy Stewart is really strong, but "the girl next door" persona was one she couldn't shake. I understand that financially, she was dug into a hole by husbands and had to dig her way out.  This may explain Day's willingness to be typecast. 

Most people who knew Day in the day (ha ha), said in Hollywood, there was no more incredible body, physically, than Doris Day's and there was no more game actress either. Sadly, I don't think her roles ever allowed her to be as great as she could have been. 

One last note, I do think that with Garland's star falling in the 50s, Day was able to step in and be an actress more suited to the decade's goals. I know we aren't looking at "Annie Get Your Gun," today, but I have to say the fact that Garland didn't get to finish it was unfortunate. In seeing her performance vs. Hutton's, I think her performance shows sophistication, understatement, humor, and the right amount of ham for a musical.  Her version of the bumpkin was probably very informed by being Francis Gum. She could convey being a hick and still be dignified whereas Hutton's good performance is a bit stock. I really don't care for "Annie Get Your Gun," but do like Calamity Jane," and I would have to say it is because Garland isn't in Annie and Day is in Jane.  Nothing against Hutton.  I like her a great deal.  Her Jane is a little too camp. I know Garland is known for over-the-top, but I don't think people credit Garland for the nuance and understatement that opposes her when she's turned herself up to 11.

I also lament that both female characters have to move to the feminine side to be acceptable to 50s tastes. Day's later roles show the full manifestation of this convention.  Too bad, because Day does look great in pants these clips. 

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The first time I saw "Calamity Jane" was only about 10 years ago.  I was struck by Doris Day's rather hyperactive interpretation of the tomboyish part of her role - mugging, making faces, talking like a comical interpretation of a rube.  I was also struck by how in love Calamity Jane seemed to be with the other female lead, who was the "ladylike" character.  The musical scene I've always found interesting is "A Woman's Touch," where the two women create a home together - no men involved! There is definitely a same-sex relationship vibe here for a 21st century viewer.  The 1950's viewer got both: The fun, strong, capable character...but never fear; she also adhere to traditional gender and sex roles in the end.  Viewers also no doubt enjoyed seeing Calam not only put on tailored clothes, but also lipstick and false eyelashes (take a look at those closeups during "Secret Love"!).?

In terms of Day's overall career, I agree with those who say she got a bit "stuck" in certain roles.  Though I don't care for "Love Me Or LEave Me" that much, it truly was a great dramatic role for Day.  In the 1960s she got stuck in silly comedies that are fun to watch...to a point.  I remember seeing "Touch of Mink" in the theatre as a child and actually feeling embarrassed for Day and the role she had to play.

 

 

 

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The character of Calamity Jane is the breakout woman- tough enough to challenge a man and feminine enough to get a man  She is a product of the "wild" frontier and perhaps was not content with silly girlish things- her world was surrounded by men who could be strong figures for her to admire.  Yet she has some femininity in her to help her survive the frontier a a loving, nurturing woman.

This film is perhaps her defining moment in film musical history.  It's a comic, serious, challenging role that made everyone notice that Doris Day = box office bonanza.  Her films post-Calamity involved musical and non-musical roles that defined her as an actress well qualified for whatever Hollywood had to offer.

Miss Day's persona added to the character of Calamity Jane.  I'm sure in real life she adored what life had to offer and it shows in her performance.  The opening number introduces us to a rambunctious, carefree life-loving person who gives a hoot about what others think of her.  Yet, in "Secret Love" she shows us a woman who's been longing to really love someone.  Her interpretation of the song is literally a smile of happiness for the 3 or so minutes of the song.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Calamity Jane falls way to one end of the spectrum. Even with Annie Oakley in the mix, she's way over on the boyish side. Annie Oakley recognizes that she ought to be more feminine. Calamity Jane doesn't realize that. She is comfortable being the way she is and the parts of the movie where she wears a dress are obviously uncomfortable for her and she's surprised at the way men respond to her dressed that way. And it isn't just the matter of her clothes. Calamity Jane meets the world without guile or apology. She is quite manly in that and definitely matches Bill Hickock in words and attitude. 

In her earlier musical, My Dream is Yours, she was a rather helpless woman who needed the help of Jack Carson to get her a job and she was struggling to raise her son without a father. Calamity Jane wasn't a helpless character and thinking of her later films, not always musical, she almost always played someone with a good sense of self and was not a victim. The only one I can think of like that was Midnight Lace, in which her husband and friend were gaslighting her.

I think her sunny persona added to the character of Calamity Jane and gave it humor. If she had played it with a straight face, it wouldn't have been as funny, Jane would have been a darker, more worrisome character. The movie, as a musical, wouldn't have worked. She wasn't making fun of herself, but a darker character would have given Jane an edge, a bitter edge, and the songs wouldn't have worked. I think Day did a good job with Calamity Jane.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
  1. As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why? I think she is at the forefront, challenging gender roles and stereotypes. She does it with talent, a sense of humor, and in a way that continues to "break the mold" of the showgirl types portrayed in previous years. Yes, she also is telling the female story, carrying on the tradition of the other great movie musical actresses. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 hours ago, Zea said:

Question 1: 

I think the character of Jane evolves from the 50's paradigm that tomboyish women can only get their man by becoming submissive & more 'feminine' in manner & dress. (As Jane does in pursuit of Lt. Danny played by Phil Carey). Yet, by the end of the film we are introduced to what will - decades later - become the feminist credo for real happiness, self-confidence, pride & fulfillment (whether that includes finding love or not) as being true to yourself and never subjugating or denying your innate nature & character for the approval/acceptance of a man. Someone either accepts you as you are or they don't.  As in Jane's case, she finds her true "Secret Love" in Bill, who ultimately realizes he loves her because of who she really is and doesn't want to change her.  They were equals.

Question 2 & 3:  

Doris Day, as much as I admire her personally and would run & wait in line at Radio City Music Hall to see her latest film & still enjoy them on TCM, was never a great actress. Marginal, yes. No matter what character Day portrayed, you were always aware it was Day. A good actor should pretty much disappear in a role so all you're aware of is the character on screen, not the actor portraying the character.  Some actors are just unable to do that. Some because their off-screen personna is so dominant; others because their acting is just not that good to rise above themselves and/or because they just try too hard, aka: overacting. That was Doris.  Doris was Doris was Doris in "Tea For Two", "Young At Heart", "Pillow Talk", "Teacher's Pet", "Midnight Lace" & scads of others.  But if you loved her & most of her movies, it didn't matter. You almost depended on Doris being Doris because it strangely added to your enjoyment of the movie. 

 

 

 

While I think Day is a better actress than you seem to, I do agree that one knows Day is Day. Maybe it's the platinum hair. It's always there...maybe once she's a redhead. I love your analyses of the performance in Calamity Jane and its context in the 50s. Really on the mark. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Calamity Jane dresses like a man, her speech is unrefined and she performs tasks that would traditionally be assigned to a man.   She is attractive and likable but it seems like she is not taken seriously.  The same could be said of the role played by Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun.  It appears that if a woman assumes interests that would normally be attributed to a man the women become caricatures, no subtlety.  The tone does change when she recognizes shes in love and this soft side is exposed in her singing of Secret Love.  If Marilyn Monroe was one extreme then Doris Day in this role is on the other side of the spectrum.  I think in both cases they are not representative of forward steps for women which would be typical of 1950s society.  Of course these movies were meant to be good fun.  As for Doris Day the actress, her body of work is very impressive. Her role as Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me is representative of her ability as a dramatic actress.  Her successful run of light comedies is also a testiment to her talent/skills, comedy isn't easy.

I like Doris Day and have watched most of her movies at one time or other as for Calamity Jane, her pleasant disposition added to the role, it allowed a bit of softeness to the performance that might otherwise have become irritating.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

Doris Day may be cracking a whip and riding on top of stagecoach, but she’s doing these stunts with bleached blond hair and in a cowboy outfit that leaves no doubt she is a woman. And the process shot in the background doesn’t help any. I understand that up until the 1960s, women weren’t supposed to be wearing pants on screen (Carl Reiner had a difficult time getting censors to approve Laura Petrie in her now-trademark capri slacks on The Dick Van Dyke Show), but it doesn’t seem like much of a victory. Talk about small baby steps!

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 know enough about Day’s performances to answer this question. But I already miss the combined singing and dancing talents of performers like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

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 always feel like I am watching Doris Day being Doris Day, to be honest. It’s very hard for me to believe that she really inhabits a character. But again, I haven’t seen a whole lot of her performances.

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, Marianne said:

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

 

Doris Day may be cracking a whip and riding on top of stagecoach, but she’s doing these stunts with bleached blond hair and in a cowboy outfit that leaves no doubt she is a woman. And the process shot in the background doesn’t help any. I understand that up until the 1960s, women weren’t supposed to be wearing pants on screen (Carl Reiner had a difficult time getting censors to approve Laura Petrie in her now-trademark capri slacks on The Dick Van Dyke Show), but it doesn’t seem like much of a victory. Talk about small baby steps!

 

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 know enough about Day’s performances to answer this question. But I already miss the combined singing and dancing talents of performers like Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly.

 

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 always feel like I am watching Doris Day being Doris Day, to be honest. It’s very hard for me to believe that she really inhabits a character. But again, I haven’t seen a whole lot of her performances.

After watching "A Woman's Touch," I have to agree with you about this movie. Calam has to conform to the defined roles of labor in gender.  What the heck?  She's Calamity Jane, and you want her to pick up a broom or sew some curtains?  I don't think so!

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

The 1950s was a time of conflict for place of the female in American society. On one hand, women had taken a more equal position with men after having to join the workforce to replace the many men who answered the call of duty to fight in WWII. Women in the 50s began encroaching into the heretofore male dominated executive levels of business and commerce. However, there was also a desire to return to the era of traditional, conservative values, where a woman's place was in the home.

Calamity Jane was a creature of her era, a single, independent woman making her own way in the wild and dangerous Western frontier. Jane, as depicted in this movie, is caught between two worlds. She has made a place for herself in a male dominated wilderness but this leaves her with a void in her personal life that forces her to try to assume the more traditional role of a helpless, subservient woman who needs a man to care for her. She dresses and attempts to behave as a more traditional female with some difficulty and eventually reaches a compromise, softening her appearance and manners but continuing to wear pants instead of a dress. Her challenge of being both independent and traditional mirror the role women found themselves living in 1950s America.

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 started out, as many singers did in the 1940s, touring as the featured singer with a big band (Les Brown). Her singing career blossomed in the mid-40s and she moved on to a hugely successful screen career in 1948. As you might well expect, her early films cast her as a singer looking for her break in Hollywood. Even in her first dramatic part in Young Man With a Horn, she portrays a band singer. She then appeared in a number of films with Gordon MacRae depicting more traditional turn-of-the-century stories and values. However, intentionally or not, she continuously performed in roles that were less light-hearted and humorous. Films such as Storm Warning and The Winning Team, both co-starring Ronald Reagan, which pre-dated Calamity Jane and displayed Doris' ability to succeed in solid dramatic parts. In the mid-50s, while continuing to appear in musicals, she again took on dramatic parts in Young at Heart, Love Me or Leave Me, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Julie. In the late 1950s she was showcasing her enormous acting skills in roles that depicted her as an independent career women in Teacher's Pet (1958), It Happened to Jane and Pillow Talk (1959). The latter was her first of three co-starring performances with Rock Hudson and for which she received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

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.

To a great extent, the Calamity Jane character is the most naive and unsophisticated character in this film. They say ignorance is bliss, and in this case Doris' bright and sunny persona is a plus as she comes across convincingly as the story progresses. She is constantly learning throughout the film. She experiences the big city when she travels to Chicago to bring back whom she thinks is Adelaide Adams. She learns about the man/woman dynamic and about love in general as she experiences both heartbreak and joy in her relationships with Lt. Gilmartin and Wild Bill Hickok. If she had started out as a worldly, cynical woman the film would not have worked as well as it did.

Doris_Day_1953_Calamity_Jane.JPG

doris day.JPG

Doris Day-1953_Calamity Jane 2.JPG

calamity jane wed.jpg

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  Jane was portrayed more as a tomboy than the traditional female actor or in real life at the time. She wears pants even during the second video that we viewed. I could and still do relate more to her character being a tomboy myself. The 50s was also a time after the war where women returned to the home full time and didn’t really deck work outside the home. Especially ones as exciting as what Jane represents in the Wild West. 

2. I’ve seen the majority of her movies. She always seemed like the girl next door. Even with her playing a tomboy in the film shown here. She could play strong woman as in Love Me Or Leave Me or the crazy one in her comedy’s with Rock Hudson. 

3. Quite frankly I can’t imagine her other than a sunny disposition. Even in her more serious roles it was still there but not as openly visible. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

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

In the 1950s, we typically saw a return to what was considered "ideal femininity", or what studios wanted to depict as the height of feminine appeal and allure and place within society - we were supposed to be getting back to "normal" after all, and studios needed to keep with the sentiments of the time. But because we had just come out of a depression and a world war, there had to be a delicate balance between what public opinion was regarding females and how they should present themselves, and how females felt about their own cultural growth and what that should really entail. 

As such, we got an interesting spectrum of female characters throughout the 1950s. On the one hand, we had someone like Betty Hutton who was blonde and beautiful and talented, but mostly played these sort of screwball female characters that hadn't grown into their femininity or sexual appeal as much as others, yet were still endearing for their focus on being themselves and trying to be seen as equals with their peers. On the other hand, we had Marilyn Monroe who was immediately sort of typecast as the silly blonde, oozing with sex appeal and feminine allure. Someone that men want to be with and women want to be, and always playing characters that were incredibly comfortable with their sexuality and at the absolute apex of everything a female-male relationship was supposed to embody at this time period.

But then the are performers like Doris Day. Doris could easily have been either a Marilyn Monroe type, or a Betty Hutton, but the characters she portrayed throughout her career were much more vast and varied, and as such she falls somewhere in between the two. In Calamity Jane, we see her start out as someone who is desperately seeking to be seen as equal with her predominantly male peers. She needs to be both appealing and street smart in order to accomplish this goal since the men (especially Hickock) do not make it easy for her. But because she is a cute, blonde, talented actress, the likeability of this character is always present - and despite her best efforts to be gruff and masculine, her feminine appeal still shines through. So Calamity Jane is someone the audience would place as somewhere between the strong, resilient type that women have had to be through tough times, and the traditionally feminine, more demure type that they were supposed to be returning to.

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

With Day's looks and persona, the possibility of being typecast was strong. But because she made the character decisions that she did, she allowed herself the chance to grow into a performer that is believable and likeable in anything. In this musical, she makes some choices which speak to her intelligence as an actress - and this theme runs throughout her career into her most successful period of work. As someone with a bubbly and cute persona, Day fits easily into both the musical and romantic comedy genres - this is why she was such a huge success in them - but her improvement in her more dramatic roles is also to be noted from this time period. On screen, she comes across as someone who can not only dance and sing to sell a plot, but also act incredibly well. And through her career she grows into this ability to balance her natural brightness and likeability with her talent for making us feel something important - which resulted in audiences associating her with "all-American" ideals and the embodiment of everything great about the nation at the time.

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

This role calls for a performer who can make decisions that work for the character, and Day does that wonderfully in this film. Her bright persona only serves the likeability factor of Calamity Jane as she is instantly someone the audiences roots for. She fills the character with fun and an optimism that is needed if she has any hopes of achieving what she sets out to do. The way she carries herself with a forced gruffness and masculinity endears us to her cause, and is not over-the-top or insincere. The musical numbers in the film play to her strengths as a dancer and singer, but are staged so as not to distract us from how the character views herself and her place. All in all, Day carries this film beautifully and adds a charm to Calamity Jane that perhaps would not come through as clearly had the role been given to another.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Daily Dose #10:

1) I feel this female character is trying to find that balance between feminine and being more assertive.  During WWII, women were given more power in terms of the jobs they took over for the men who were overseas.  After the war ended, women had to try to reconcile with the idea that gender norms now wanted them to return to their previous roles but the change that occurred in the war wanted them to conserve it some fashion.

2) Unfortunately I haven't seen any Doris Day movies prior to this period but what I can say about her movies afterwards in that she ushers in a more modern woman who is assertive and wants to take control of her life as opposed to letting a man decide for her.  This connects with the theme of the time which was beginning to occur in the 1960's.

3) I believe that Doris Day's sunny persona adds to the role by making the character more likeable overall.  I can imagine seeing a woman wearing pants and being so gruff was not the norm for most people so to be sunny and bubbling that helped to endear this character to audiences.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Admittedly, I have never seen Doris Day in this movie, so I'm looking forward to seeing it this month, but I do think that it marks a shift for her career. I have seen her earlier films, specifically her roles with Gordon McRae, and there is quite a bit of lightness and fluff to them. She's a wholesome family girl and the problems she's dealing with seem minor, but after Calamity Jane, her roles are more dramatic and more complex. A movie she does soon after Calamity Jane, Love Me or Leave Me with James Cagney, is still musical but more dramatic and require more of her as an actress. She definitely grows as an actress during the mid-1950s. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  I feel that Doris Days role as Calamity Jane is showing a different type of femininity than was typically portrayed.  Most women in the 50's were portrayed in traditional roles such as homemaker (which is a full time job in itself).  Whereas Calamity Jane is a scout in a male dominated field.  She wears pants and buckskin  to fit in with the men in her field.

2.  Doris Day is one of my favorite actresses.  I like her sunny disposition and the spirit she brought to many of her roles.  It is fun to watch her maturing as an actress and dancer throughout her career

3.  I think her disposition adds a nuance to the character.  Calamity Jane had a tough career in an even mire difficult field of work.  Seeing Doris Day having fun with her character, such as: when she's telling the townspeople what the wagon brought in and the label on the hair tonic bottle.  As she reads the label saying it's "guaranteed to grow hair on a billiard ball.", she goes over to a bald man and polishes his head. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1. The Doris Day character is portrayed as a "tom boy", but to me it seemed more like the male fantasy of the tom boy because she is still looking cute and not very dirty, even though she's portrayed to be riding a long way in that stage coach. In the second clip she looks like a fifties housewife trying to dress up in western clothing. The hair, the lipstick, etc.  Lots of stereotypes overall, despite the tom boy theme.

2. I have only seen a handful of her movies. I prefer her movies where she was paired with Rock Hudson and also The Thrill of it All with James Garner, which i have to stop and watch every time it comes on TCM. I just love silly moments when she makes the ketchup in the basement and also when the pool overflows with suds. Doris portrayed that fifties/sixties housewife role very well. Maybe because I saw her first in those types of movies is why seeing her in a western musical was so odd for me.

3. It was strange to me. I enjoyed the energy she brought to the character and the songs, but it seemed so cartoonish.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Doris as Calamity Jane shows that women wanted to be equal to men, even back in the 19th century. We see as the wold, untamed tomboy in the first clip who wants to be one of the guys, even if she has to use her pistols to get her way.  In the second clip she becomes a "gentlewoman", still wearing trousers but looking more refined. It may have to do with how women looked in the 50s with Vogue and other fashion magazines showing such sophisticated ladies. 

Doris has always been portrayed as a "good girl" in most of her films. i can tell why she said this was her favorite role, being allowed to act the opposite of a proper lady. She was able to prove she could be do serious roles in "Love Me or Leave Me" and later "Midnight Lace", but the public seemed to prefer her as the good girl type.

Her persona doesn't seem to detract from the role, but the real Calamity Jane would never be doing those kinds of songs or dressed in a refined way. (I recall going to Laramie, Wyoming , where at the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historic Site I saw a splendid historical reenactor playing Calamity Jane)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always loved Doris Day. She was a very natural actress, I am supposing that was her personality. I thought she had a great voice. She was whity in This movie. The Song Secret Love was the song I loved the most out of all of them. It came across as a real life girl being in Love. I followed her career and I think one of the best movies she did was Love Me or Leave Me, playing opposite James Cagney. Her depth was amazing. She was good in the Man in the Grey Flannel Suite, but not near as in depth as Love Me or Leave Me. She will remain always one of my favorite women stars.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that Calamity Jane seems to fall somewhere in between when talking about female representation. She's trying in ways to become more feminine and attractive but at the same time continues to retain those stronger characteristics of independence and energy. Doris Day does a fabulous job of blending these two ideals together which is evident in "Secret Love". Jane is a touch softer now and sweet while still keeping the vitality and passion at the forefront. 

As I have only seen a few of Day's films I can't quite comment on how she grows as an actress during the 1950s. The films that I've seen her in I believe were from the 60's. 

I personally believe that Day was an excellent choice for this role. She brings a believability and likeability to this character that makes you want to root for her and see her get that happy ending. I think there's also a little vulnerability that she brings to the character.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

As you reflect upon female representation in the 1950s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?  Middle of the pack. Calamity is a tomboy and happy to be who she is. For the most part, it seems the community outwardly likes her and appreciates her work yet when she really tries to be "one of the boys" in the saloon scene the men push her aside and ignore her. Until she shoots off her gun. They get the last laugh (and enjoy it)  on her when she fumbles at the bar and falls on her ****. Maybe that's a statement about a woman pushing too hard against society for equality.

How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?  She certainly does. In her early films with Carson she is the sweet but very talented new singing star at Warners. Acting is OK but not too much beyond her own personality I'm thinking. In the 50s, she was dong musicals and dramatic parts so she learned to combine the singing and the acting more smoothly and plays people different from herself (Love Me or Leave Me for example). She became a triple threat like Judy Garland but Judy was the superior actress.

  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.  If the movie depicted the character of Calamity Jane and the time more true to life it would have distracted for sure. However, most musicals were still going for the all out optimism so no it doesn't.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1)  In many of the musicals from the 1950's the women are very feminine, nicely dressed, pretty classy.  Doris Day in her role as Calamity Jane definitely falls in the continuum.  She wants to be a lady, sees women being women, but isn't sure it is right for her.  Jane wants a man but isn't quite sure how to go about landing him.  The woman that Danny marries tries to steer her in the right direction but does a 180 degree turn on Doris and puts her in a costume that just doesn't suit.  Near the end of the movie when she is singing "Once I Had A Secret Love", she finds what works for her.  Feminine, but not over the top, but attractive enough to win her man.

2)  Doris becomes more of a heavy weight then a light weight.  With Jack Carson she was too girly, girly and frothy. As she becomes a stronger actress, her parts get stronger.  She does an amazing job against James Cagney and really holds her own.  Same with Frank Sinatra, Gordon McRae, and David Niven (though that one wasn't a musical).  I definitely agree that Doris Day is not a crooner.  She belts them out with everything she's got.

3)  "Que sera, sera - whatever will be will be" is her theme song.  I don't think she looked at the character as one who ever gives up.  She keeps plugging away until she lands where she wants to land.  Doris Day is known for her bright and sunny personality.  Most of her movies showcase that aspect - especially this genre of movie.  I definitely think it adds to her role.  Calamity is friendly, fierce, unafraid, determined, and a fighter to the end but without any meanness or rancor.  She is jealous of Danny's fiancé but ends up learning about men and what they like and don't like.  I think having this type of personality makes Jane a more likable character as well.  You are rooting for her to win her man.  And she does!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1 - She acts, like everyone will say, in "different way" that woman in that time was usually portrayed, but something here that annoys me, it's put masculinity in a woman as a form of "equality", that's to me, it's not true.

2 - I think Doris is versatile in any way, after this film, she will make some dramatic movies that she performs very well, before this movie she did Storm Warning with Ginger Rogers, she gives a dramatic performance and that's my favorite movie of her.

3 - Any movie Doris is in, she brings a sunny persona, even it's bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1, 2.   Ms. Day made the "scruffy" persona,  including dirt smudges, rather sexy.  A form fitting outfit on a neat figure didn't hurt.  White teeth helped accentuate the rounding out of great vocal tones.  So, enters the I'm-TOUGH-but- pretty darn- sexy-too era.  Who could possibly dislike me?  This particular attitude (genre?) seems repeated with leadingmen like Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, etc.

 3.  Ms. Day's bright and sunny persona seems to be supported by the "out west" eco/geo system of fresh air, sunshine, and green trees and proves to be enough for her to bounce around in. It was still prevalent in the early '50s.  (Was Las Vegas in full bloom then?) Does her persona add to or detract from her CJ role?  I think it does, but oh, what the heck? Does it matter?   It's still a slap thigh, rip-roaring show. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us