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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #10 (From CALAMITY JANE)

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     Calamity Jane seems like a transitional film for the 1950's.  We have Doris Day starting out rough and tumble, moving all over the "moving" stage, in ways that in a western is seen as dangerous and occurs when the stage is being attacked, usually.  Here is a woman that can move around just as well or better than John Wayne, she is an individual like the Ringo Kid, but rather than being separate from society as he was as a "supposed" outlaw, she is welcomed and brings the news and describes all the goods to the townsfolk, then  describes all the sights for the passengers.

     Day's sunny personality works well here, she is able to come across as real, not as she does later with Rock Hudson.  It also allows her to show her ability as a singer and not just a "crooner".  Pillow Talk and those other films require her to croon.  You don't belt it out in pillow talk.  In Calamity Jane she's alone and in the hills, she can belt it out there, as she did in other films where it was required as with Ca Sera Sera in Hitchcock's remake of his The Man Who Knew Too Much.

Also Ava Gardner should have been allowed to sing in Showboat:

 

 

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re: Betty Hutton

I disagree with your analysis of Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun.  

Hutton was a newcomer in 1943, and by 1950 she had made many musical films. 

The discussion of Annie states that Hutton "is made to look ridiculous and cannot truly compete", but her performance in this number is typical Hutton and not a result of directorial choices.  See 1940's Hutton performances on YouTube for examples.  She holds her own with Keel throughout.

Finally, the film clip ends in a draw; its unclear who wins. In marksmanship, Annie is the better marksman.

This song number is a poor example of the "woman does not compete successfully with a man" trope.

 

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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? She's not a traditional female character. She's more masculine than feminine by wearing pants and men's hats. She was seen more as one of the guys than one of the girls. She wasn't one to be dominated by a man, she was her own person with her own thoughts and opinions. 
  2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? Doris was able to show how versatile she was. She played a tomboy very well, but then was able to turn around and play a highly sophisticated feminine lady. 
  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. It kind of does both. When she sang about her newfound love for Bill, you could see and hear the happiness that flowed through her. But she was also serious on the ride back into town with all of the goods for the townspeople.  

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In terms of how this character fits into female representation in 1950s films, and specifically this character, even while Calamity is independent early in the film, she desperately wants to fit in to her society, and in the end, falling in love with Wild Bill, helps her find her true happiness.  I don't know if it is purposeful, but the independence of women in the 40's, as they joined the paid workforce (because women have always worked), is being turned into a more of a reflection of the man they are attached to, rather than a person in themselves.   That is what seems to happen to Calamity.  She cleans up her person, tones down her personality, to become an acceptable companion for Wild Bill.  He basically tells her that she must do so in order to be attractive to men.

I have enjoyed Doris Day movies over the years, but they are light fare, and I would not say i found her to be a great actress.  Even in her serious roles, like Love Me or Leave Me or The Man Who Knew Too Much, she always seem to me to on the edge of overacting.  

For this version of Calamity's life, she is suited to the role.  It is light-hearted, and fun, and she was always good at portraying those kind of characters.  She does have a comedic ability that she is not to exploit for the purpose of making the role work.   I do like that about Ms. Day.   And of course, she had a versatile singing voice.   I liked her big band days, better than her movie days.  

 

 

 

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I love this film it has been a while since i watched it. she presents this tomboy persona in the movie which was very rare in the 50s and Doris Day pulls it off very well. she goes from a tomboy in the begining and ends up  a lady in the end we have fun watching this transformation

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    We have looked at several different types of feminine beauty in these clips, from the soft and vulnerable Marilyn Monroe to the exotic beauty of Ava Gardner, the 1950's were a time for women to be women!(in the movies, anyway). It was also a time when women began to discover that they wanted more out of life, so perhaps this roll of Calamity Jane showed that women didn't have to be "just a wife".

      I think that the character Jane was a great roll for Doris Day, with this roll, she was allowed to get down and dirty, to be a little rough, something that she was not able to show in her later rolls where she was often the "ideal" American woman. I love her in all of her rolls, and this type of musical is one that I will watch over and over again. One that has a strong female lead, who faces her obstacles with a positive attitude.

   I think that Day's positive attitude is always an attraction, though she may have been a little to positive for this roll, Jane had to be much tougher to fit into this "man's" world in the wild west. 

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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 is a bit unusual in my opinion. Based on a female that had to survive the rough frontier ending up in Deadwood with Wild Bill Hickok. The only connection I can make is that the character is subjected to conformity. Wearing a dress and acting lady like to win over a man. I guess that was one of the played up characteristics in female characters of the fifties. This is Calamity Jane however and it just doesn't sit right. Some compromise is made by the time we get to 'Secret Love'. Maybe this is saying American women can be strong (like what it took to live on the frontier) but still have feminism and end up with the man in the end of the picture. 

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

I think in her early film she is playing second fiddle to the lead male actor like Cagney or Gordon MacRae. In this film I think she breaks out a little more with her own persona. A little more energy and fun. By the time she does 'Pajama Game' she is a dynamo on the screen and equals costar John Raitt. After the musicals more of her real wholesome self goes into those quaint romantic comedies with Rock Hudson. Doris Day is the icon of wholesome American woman in pictures. 

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've got to say that the Doris Day take on Calamity Jane was unique. Most other representations were not so sunny such as the TV show Deadwood which touches on the problems with alcohol and the frontier town is not such a rosy place where people sing and dance. 

I say you have to just file it away as artistic license. This is Doris Day in a far fetched musical version of Calamity Jane with Bill Hickok. Is it a good musical? Yes. Is Doris Day good in this film? Yes. I don't think the audience cares that this may not be the most accurate account of Calamity Jane.   

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First of all, I'd like to say something about the way Doris Day uses clothing in Calamity Jane. By this time, she had already become a style icon so when she does transform into a more feminine version of herself, as the character, she's believable because Day herself would've transformed whatever she wore to suit her own signature look. On any other actor, who wasn't as cognizant of the power of fashion, this might not have worked but on her, it made her more realistic and unique.

1) As you reflect upon female representation in the 1850s, where do you think this film character falls in the continuum? Why?

Calamity Jane is pretty progressive for the 1950s because she directly attempts to assert her intelligence and strength within a society that isn't accustomed to women trying to be on an equal footing with men. Sartorially, her choice to wear pants, when very few women did then while retaining her femininity, is also forward thinking.

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

She becomes more independent and starts to play roles, after this musical, that showcase her talents as a serious actress, comedian and style icon. For example, in Pillow Talk, she not only plays a professional interior decorator she's also in a love triangle, which is very sophisticated for the 1950s.

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.

No, because if she played the character with a rougher demeanor I don't feel it would reflect either the way women acted in the 1950s, when the musical was made, or when Calamity really lived. Her optimistic outlook makes the portrayal more palatable and enjoyable to watch, especially during the musical numbers.

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Miss Doris Day as an actress has not been given her due respect although very few, if any, denies her singing talent.  I think that Ms. Day loved this role because the viewer can tell that she is having so much darn fun playing this rip-roarin', gun-totin' Western gal!  YEH-HAH!  One can tell she has a great athletic ability and to sing while doing acrobatic moves takes great concentration.  I estimate that Doris did for the musicals what Katherine Hepburn did for dramatic roles--made it sexy and confident for a woman to wear slacks and still be attractive.  Day portrays Calamity Jane as a tomboy, but one can still detect that she has soft, feminine feelings underneath that dusty exterior.  I love this film, and I enjoy the songs such as "Deadwood Stage," and "The Windy City," but I have never been a fan of "Secret Love," just as much as I do not find "Que Sera, Sera" from Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much as the best of Ms. Day's singing virtuosity although both songs are the ones that she is most well-known for.  I think that for this film a more romantic song is "The Black Hills of Dakota."  The character of Calamity is mostly in the middle spectrum of feminine representations--she is definitely a woman, but she adapts to masculine traits to be accepted by her male peers until she discovers her own strength in her version of femininity.

Ms. Day has spectacular talent and such great verve as a woman who does not let a man get the upper hand too much, such as in her first film Romance on the High Seas where she sings "Put Em in a Box."  Through this song, her character Georgia Garrett "sings" off and dismisses Jack Carson as Peter Virgil by lyrically saying that he can just go jump in the ocean because she won't put up with his rejection.  Even before the song, Georgia calls him "Choo!" to show her disgust of his abrupt way of responding to her.  

Doris also plays a gal with a mind of her own in her second film, My Dream is Yours when she risks her job at a music service to show her talent, and wow, can she sing complicated words with fast rhythms in the song "Cuttin' Capers."  She carries this spunky energy into her dialogue.  In this role as Martha Gibbons, she tries to be true to her own personality, but she does conform to the image that her agent, Doug Blake (Jack Carson) forces upon her, only for Doug to later discover that Martha is great the way she is!  Martha tries to pursue Gary Mitchell, the heartthrob/drunken performer not realizing her real love for affable Doug until the end of the film.  In this sense, Martha and Calamity are much the same--misguided in the affections, but smart enough to find it out before they make a big mistake.

My favorite feminine role of Doris Day is her portrayal as Laurie Tuttle in Young at Heart opposite her surprising love interest Barney Sloane played by Frank Sinatra.  Once again, Laurie thinks she loves Alex Burke, the obviously attractive and charismatic musician, but once Barney professes his love, Laurie quickly finds her true passion.  Ms. Day as Laurie is the dutiful daughter to her father, Gregory Tuttle, a college music professor.  She rehearses with her two sisters for the pleasure of their father, and she adores her Aunt Jessie.  She is a female on a mission to humanize Barney and make him part of the family like a 1950s woman would rescue a lost soul and bring him into the joys of domestic, suburban life.  Still, it is Laurie's devotion to loving Barney that jeopardizes her relationships with her family, but she remains steadfast in her marriage to Barney.  It is a wonderful display of singing talent and dramatic intensity that both Sinatra and Day brings to the finished masterpiece of "You, My Love."  I love the family-centered story of this film as well as the acting of every single actress and actor from Ethel Barrymore to Dorothy Malone to Gig Young to Elizabeth Fraser to Alan Hale (before++ his role as Skipper on TV's Gilligan's Island).  Of course, for me personally, it is a story about three sisters, and since I am one of three sisters, it is a fantasy version of my life--wishing I had the talent of Day and wanting the cozy, big front porch home filled with music.

I have attached video clips of Doris singing in these other films for any person to enjoy.

 

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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?  Jane is trying to be rough and tough and loud like a man.  Bill treats her like a joke or tomboy little sister. 
  2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?  This role is so much better than her 1949 role in "It's a Great Feeling" with Jack Carson and Dennis Morgan.  That seemed so one-dimensional.  Here she gets to expand a role.
  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. Doris Day is Doris Day.  She does a proper amount of frowning when she is determined to be taken seriously.  For someone who has never she her before the dazzling smile may be a bit overwhelming but she doesn't overdo it.  What really amazes me is her physicality.  The precise way she lands on the bar (both times) is like a dancer.  I'm use to "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" but here I admire her ability and gymnastics in this clip.

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Doris Day's performance in "Calamity Jane" is extraordinary. Her range is relentless and mesmerizing to watch. I find that her character continues the theme of strong, independent women that we see especially in the mid-1940's musicals. In my opinion, although I found her acting to have a similar feel to it especially later on in her career-I do believe she grew as an actress and performer because of this role in "Calamity Jane". Her comedic timing became a part of her appeal as seen in "That Touch of Mink" and "With Six You Get Eggroll". I found her performance in "Calamity Jane" to be very energetic and spirited. I can see how having her character behave that way can be distracting or even annoying to some. For me it was like watching a fire cracker light up the screen. I say if you haven't seen this film, buckle up because Doris Day's performance is a wild ride and not one to be missed!

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1. I'm not sure how this would fall into the continuum.  I enjoy both screen productions of "Annie Get Your Gun" (MGM, 1950 with Betty Hutton) and "Calamity Jane" (Warner Bros., 1953 with Doris Day).  I feel that Warners was trying to build on the success of George Sidney's MGM screen adaptation of Irving Berlin's musical, which was filmed three years before "Calamity Jane."

2. In addition to her various roles in her earlier Warners musicals ("Romance on the High Seas," "Tea for Two," "On Moonlight Bay," etc.) I think her title role of "Calamity Jane" may have helped her expand her later film appearances, including "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955) and Alfred Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956).  This might also apply to her latter hit screen romantic comedies with Rock Hudson ("Pillow Talk," "Lover Come Back," "Send Me No Flowers") and James Garner ("The Thrill of It All," "Move Over Darling").  In addition to her screen roles, she also had a successful string of hit recordings on Columbia Records (CBS).

3. I don't think Doris Day's personality deterred her title role of "Calamity Jane."  She was perfect for the role.  

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BEING A TOM BOY ADDS A DIFFERENT VIEW SINCE WOMEN WAS SO LADY LIKE EVEN FIGHTING FOR THEIR INDEPENDENCE. EVEN THOUGH PLAYING A TOM BOY THERE WAS A CUTENESS AND A SIGN OF A LADY WITHIN HER. THIS DID NOT HURT HER ROLE BUT ADDED TO THE CHARACTER. LOVE ANYTHING SHE MADE. WATCH THEM ALL SHE MADE ME LAUGH AND CRY LIKE A BABY.

 

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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?

She's a nice balance between Betty Garrett's aggressive man eater in ON THE TOWN and TAKE ME OUT TO THE BALL GAME and the traditional female role we see in so many other musicals.  Women in WWII had to do men's jobs to support the war effort and keep the country running, and they did so willingly and admirably.  Yet, once the war was over, men expected women to return to their traditional roles as housewives and mothers.  Jane is a comic figure for half of the film because she tries to do a man's job and live in a man's world.  She's all spit and vinegar and bravado.  When her soldier boy, Danny, shows interest in the lovely, feminine Katie, she tries to model herself after her new friend and fails miserably because she isn't being true to herself.  (Part of the problem is that Danny can never get over the fact that Jane has to rescue him, which makes him look weak)

It's only when Jane realizes she can't be what Danny wants in a woman that she sees she really doesn't want him after all--and probably never did.  Once she lets her fantasy of Danny go (much like Scarlett O'Hara does with Ashley at the end of GWTW), she realizes she really loves Bill.  She somehow manages to strike a balance with her masculine and feminine sides.

 

BTW, this isn't the first time that Day played such a character.  In 1951's ON MOONLIGHT BAY and 1953's BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON, she plays Marjorie, a tom boy who's more interested in tinkering with cars than with snagging the neighbor boy, Bill.  She moves with the same energy and has many of the same notions about womanhood that she has in CALAMITY JANE.

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

I think CALAMITY JANE is one of her best films, and it's mostly because of the score.  She's not singing just to be singing.  She's advancing the story line and we can see real character development.  After CJ, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME and THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH are two of my favorite Day movies.  Both movies show her range as a serious actress, and LMOLM again uses the score to show character development.  After those two films, she seems to be typecast mostly in frothy rom coms.  They're entertaining enough, but they're pretty cookie cutter.

  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.

I think it adds to the role.  Without that persona, Calamity Jane isn't a particularly sympathetic character.  She's braggadocious, she bristles at every perceived slight, she lies outrageously, and she's aggressive.  Day makes Calamity's transformation at the end of the movie believable.

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Doris Day was extremely talented at playing both comedy and dramatic roles and this film shows her multi talented approach to displaying both classic femininity and strong masculine characteristics.  The song "Secret Love" was one of her best and I'll always remember it as the hit record it was and that it was the first love song I shared with my first girlfriend in 8th grade.  Ours was a "secret love."

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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? This role falls closer to the end of the continuum where the female reaches full self-actualization. Initially, Jane does not know who she is, she does not appear to accept her sex and she does not identify with other females in her community. Jane is smart, she understands that the men have power. Jane is grasping for power and position by doing her best to imitate the men in her community. By the end of the movie, Jane is self-actualized, in that she is accepting of her sex and the difference between the sexes. Yet, she does not become submissive, she will continue to drive the stagecoach and mix as an equal with the men in the community, but she will do these things as a woman, who knows who she is.  Why? Jane’s character begins to shift after interacting with the female character “Adeline”. Adeline is very feminine and the direct opposite of Jane, but to Jane’s amazement, Adeline also has power. Adeline uses the power of her sex and her knowledge of men to get what she wants. Jane further shifts when she discovers that she is in love with Howard Keel’s character. She becomes aware of her sexual feelings and desires a love relationship vs. buddy relationship.  

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

I am a Doris Day fan and I love her movies. Her performance in Calamity Jane is rambunctious, funny and adorable, she is perfectly cast. “Love Me or Leave Me” is a musical, but this movie is darker and requires Day to significantly tone down her buoyant personality, which she does effectively.  She shows her growth by playing a unhappy and troubled woman, she’s in a miserable marriage, her husband borders on abusive, and she loves another man. Day goes head to head with James Cagney and she holds her own. Later in the 1950's we see Day in “The Man who Knew too Much”, a straight dramatic role directed by Hitchcock, opposite Jimmy Stewart and again she shows her ability to adjust her mood, body movements and demeanor for the character.  By the end of the 1950’s, Doris Day has gone the full gamut and is doing sly & sophisticated sex comedies with Rock Hudson, which are quite entertaining and funny. I think Doris Day is a wonderful actress and singer who has been underrated and deserves an honorary Oscar.

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.

The bright, funny and perky personality is just what the role of Calamity Jane suggests and needs.  Jane is very likable and this provides us with the reason that the men allow her in their company.  If Jane was played as whiny, or too serious, too masculine – then the men would not like her or want her around.  Day’s Jane is cheery, she's a good sport, and she is very determined to be seen as capable in a man’s world. While the men do tease Jane and put her down, they also seem to accept that Jane is one of the characters in their town. This movie calls for a larger than life personality and it would not work if the acting were more somber or subdued; we need for Jane to contrast and stand out from the other characters. 

 

A subdued Doris Days in a knock out and gutsy performance.

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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’s portrayal of Calamity Jane is much like Betty Hutton’s Annie Oakley in ANNIE GET YOUR GUN. Both are strong, independent women who put me in mind of Jo in LITTLE WOMEN and Scarlett in GONE WITH THE WIND. The only distinct difference between Scarlett and the other three is that like Jo, Jane and Annie are all tomboys who love to be included among all the men, whereas both Scarlett in Margaret Mitchell’s original novel and Vivien Leigh’s flawless interpretation in the film are utterly feminine, even though she also proves time and again that she has the strong business savvy of any man. Ultimately, Jane’s characterization does seem to be categorized as one of a previous era, not necessarily one of the more modernized women depicted in contemporary films of the 1950s.

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

    Doris certainly shows in her films following CALAMITY JANE that she wanted to prove her range as an actress, certainly a comedic one. Her most memorable films are the ones she made in the late 50s and early 60s with Rock Hudson. She plays a strong, independent woman in her professional life but at the same time, to show a comedic dichotomy, she’s as vulnerable and as hilarious with the romantic side of her life as several comedic actresses of the 30s and 40s were like Carole Lombard and Irene Dunne. It’s roles like these as well as CLAMITY JANE and LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME that have endeared her consistently with audiences over the years. I see her as a true film and music icon and I hope that future generations will hold her in the same high regard.

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.

    Honestly, I think Doris’ persona only adds to the part of Calamity Jane. She’s sweet-natured and infectious when she has to be but she’s also honest and feisty when necessary. Day keeps all these qualities in a solid, equal balance of each other and I’ve never seen her either in this film or any of the other films of hers to be annoying or corny or out of touch with character development. For me, she simply has an effervescent quality that has always won me over and consistently keeps me appreciative of all she has to offer both as an actress and as a recording artist.

 

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1. In the films of the 1950's that I've viewed so far, the women go head-to-head with their male counterparts and even surpass them at times in wit as well as knowledge in areas generally accepted as male topics (i.e. sports).  Yet these women still retain their charm of femininity.  Doris Day's Calamity Jane is doesn't want to surpass the men but be one of them.  She achieves this by attire, posturing, and twang vernacular.  The real Calamity Jane as a young girl was attractive but as a mature woman did look more masculine in her clothing and the way she wore her hair.  While known to be compassionate to all whether rich or poor who helped the ill and down trodden (in spite of not being well-to-do herself), her language was far from demure and pure, she was an alcoholic and a prostitute.  Not quite the wholesome character of a 1950's woman! 

2. Doris grows from the spunky, cutsy, girl-next-door roles to fun mature roles of mother roles such as Please Don't Eat the Daisies to the more dramatic roles at the opposite end of the acting spectrum (note: The Man Who Knew Too Much). 

3. Taking into account the timeline of when Calamity Jane was filmed and released, I would say Doris Day's bright and sunny persona added to the role of Calamity Jane. Her interpretation (and the studio's) of Calamity Jane reflected the 1950's. Her spunkiness and want to be 'one-of-the-boys' appealed to movie-goers and fit the exuberance of the post-war era.

As with musicals based upon real historical people, many liberties are taken, truths are stretched, unflattering events are either glossed over or eliminated completely, facts are replaced in the name of entertainment.  (See also Debbie Reynolds' Molly Brown in The Unsinkable Molly Brown).

It would be interesting to see a musical of Calamity Jane written today; new screenplay, new songs!

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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?
    I think women in the 50s are suppose to be homemakers and wear dresses with a perfect commercial look.  A rough and tumble type of character falls at the end of the spectrum during that time.
  2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?  I think Mrs. Day will grow by really leaning more into her character and making them ore rounded after this film
  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 that it can detract from what should be a more rough and tumble character. She's wearing animal skins with flawless makeup and hair in the scene, kinda detracts from the character a bit. 

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I think that Doris falls more toward the male side in this film because she is completing with the men in the scene.

As I have seen many of her films I think that she grown into a very competent person and a fine actress.  She can play any type from tomboy to a fine lady.

In my opinion her bright and sunny persona adds to the character of Calamity. It show the love she has for Bill and what she thought was love for the Lieutenant. Also that she sees her error in sending the other girl away. 

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1- The movie is a western, she is almost like a tom boy in the film or in the clips. Its like My Fair Lady meets the west.

2- The only movie I have seen her in was The Man Who Knew Too Much.  But i can say that Hitchcock took her out of the studio to shoot on location. And Doris was not use to that because Doris was a studio/backlot actress.

3- I also stand by another member without viewing this movie other then the 2 clips. I can not comment

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Doris Day has been a part of my life since childhood.  We always went to see her movies, and watched her TV show as well. There were two songs she sang which were often sung around the house by my Mom and me – “Que Sera, Sera” and “Secret Love’, both of which won Oscars for Best Original Song.  If I fell down, skinned my knee, or had a bad day, Mom would sing “Que Sera, Sera” to me while she held me close to her.  I’d hear her in the kitchen singing it while she prepared our meals.  I would sing “Secret Love” while dreaming about Steve McQueen.  My brother has always had a huge crush on Doris, and said she had that certain something. 

I’ve always viewed Doris Day like I have Ginger Rogers.  Both are very feminine, but strong and tough at their core. Doris was well suited to the role of Calamity Jane.  Her athleticism made her believable as Calamity.  There is a big personality inside her that fills the screen.  All of her characters that I remember seeing can be soft and sweet, but you know she won’t take any guff off anyone.  Like Ginger, she stands up for herself, and refuses to be pushed around.  That’s why her bright and sunny persona works in this film.  Its origin is from knowing who she is and what she’s capable of doing.  She’s confident and willing to put herself out there.  Even as she later starred in the romantic comedies, she was very feminine, but tough when necessary.

Her voice is magnificent with its dark, husky, and sexy undertones, and it has a quality that I can only describe as resonating in my chest.  And she and Marilyn Monroe glowed on the screen with a palpable radiance.  Whoever did the lighting for these women, knew what they were doing.  They always appeared ethereal, with a beauty that seemed fascinatingly magical, and almost too good to be true.  But, as stated in the Lecture Notes, women weren’t threatened by Monroe.  I think this could be said about Doris as well.  As my brother put it, these two women wouldn’t hurt you.  They both have a vulnerability that allows you like them, and in Marilyn’s case, makes you want to protect her.  Marilyn’s beauty was one that the camera made love to, and to me, only she and James Dean had that relationship with the photographic lens.

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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? 

Just watched "Singing in the Rain" last night.  The Female representation in this movie was so visible. The blonde haired lead was characterized as less intelligent,  not having any "street smart". Then when a glimpse of "street smart" is presented, she is hood winked by men, with the help of the Debbie Reynolds character.  

Here in 'Calamity Jane" the blonde character Calamity, tries to make a place for herself in the community.  She has some of the characteristics of  the role women played in the war years.  This transition is difficult during the 1950's.  As mentioned in the Curator notes:(All pictures of the real Jane show a fairly attractive, if not typically feminine woman.) She is playful, yet wants to be seen as an equal to all men. Later, she is singing in the bar, wanting to be “one of the guys” yet as we watch, we can notice that they do not really take her seriously. Even her best friend, Bill Hickok (Howard Keel), moves her away from the gambling table. When the bar keep announces drinks are on the house, she is pushed to the back, and only when she shoots her gun is she allowed access to the bar.

Wanting to be equal with men.  Something that is still proving to be difficult now in the 21st Century. 

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

I am a baby boomer and was not born until the mid fifty's.  I have very little experience with Doris Day. After this musical I can only assume she was able to prove that she has the ability to span a large gap regarding she vocal and acting abilities.  She is not afraid to play with a character to achieve the artistry necessary to portray the role of Calamity Jane and the femininity of a women in love.  

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

image?path=https%3a%2f%2fupload.wikimedia.org%2fwikipedia%2fcommons%2fthumb%2f3%2f3e%2fCalamity_Jane_by_CE_Finn%252C_c1880s-crop.jpg%2f125px-Calamity_Jane_by_CE_Finn%252C_c1880s-crop.jpg 

The picture depicted is the real Calamity Jane.  I had to do this to help me with my answer. After reading a little about her, Doris Day's sunny persona is in contradiction with real person.  I believe that the character played by Day does exhibit some of what the real person was like, and helps Doris Day prove her abilities to work in the "Movies."  Doris Day and the movie Calamity Jane definitely show a "model of community, cooperative spirit, and optimism. 

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Response to #1.

The era of the 1950s was remarkable for women. The men had returned from war and gone back to work, but women didn't necessarily exit the workfield just because the men entered it. Women were working and homemaking simultaneously. Some women chose this path; for others, it was necessity because of their family's situation post-war. So, women were straddling two worlds - a world of work and the world of home and hearth, much like Calamity Jane. At the beginning of the film, she is completely self-sufficient, self-supporting, has no family (that the film mentions), and self-identifies as an independent woman. However, she makes, not a full-circle adjustment, but a partial circle adjustment to being a woman who can be in love and work and maintain her individual self-identity. In other words, she stops fighting her need to be a woman and starts to learn how to balance between the two spheres in which she moves. I'm not going to say she "has it all," but it looks like she comes fairly close to "having it all" (even if Calamity Jane's life is grossly misrepresented in this film). 

Response to #2. 

Doris Day's earlier musicals had been pure confection, if I"m allowed to use the term. Early films that come to mind include By The Light of the Silvery Moon, On Moonlight Bay, April in Paris, and Tea for Two. Day has always been charming on screen, and her earlier musicals really showed off her vocal and dancing abilities, pairing her with musical actors like Ray Bolger and Gordon MacRae.  Calamity Jane seems to be a turning point in Day's career. After this musical, she starts taking on more mature characters, including non-singing roles. For example, her turn as Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me is still remarkable, even 60 years after the film's theatrical release. Even her comedic roles, when she was paired with David Niven and Rock Hudson, are more mature and tackle topics of the day, ex. "working single woman," "relationships and sex," etc.  

Response to #3.

If you read about the life of Calamity Jane, you realize that Calamity Jane's life was excessively difficult. She was an alcoholic and traveled across the West, following the work. Does Day's personality detract from the characterization of Calamity Jane in this particular musical? No, because the musical itself is designed to be bright and bubbly. Of course, there are some dark moments, but they are glossed over in typical MGM fashion; and we are left with a bright, smiling world at the end where all is well, and all the girls got the right guys, and everyone rides off into the sunset in/on the carriage. I would theorize that the musical was designed specifically for Day's extraordinarily sunny talents. 

 

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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?

It is interesting that the character of Jane - as interpreted by Day - almost represents the American woman's cultural transition at this time. When men left for WWII, women had no choice but to to come forward and do what the culture defined as "men's work." And they discovered many suppressed talents and certainly a great empowerment of intellect and skill. When men returned their expectations were things go back to "normal" putting men back in control with the effort to suppress women again. This character (Jane) almost clearly defines this cultural shift - even in finding a middle ground.

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

I can see why Day loved this movie because after this, from the films I have seen, she becomes almost easily wrestled into submissiveness (Pillow Talk.) Many of her films are about "getting the man" even while her characters assert autonomy. 

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 detract - I found her to be almost too cartoony which plays to making a comedy out of her character (not taken seriously) rather than speaking to owning her identity which defied cultural norms.

 

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