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DAILY DOSE OF DELIGHT #10 (From CALAMITY JANE)

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I must admit I have never seen this movie, however with that said Doris Day definitely took a leap of fate with this movie. She stepped outside the box when it seemed all the feminine roles were more of window dressing to be glamorous, frilly, and quite feminine. Here comes Miss Day belting out the tunes, all gruffly ( as much as she possibly could) and as far from feminine as possible. 

Doris Day seemed to flip the switch when she needed to.. I've seen her along side Jimmy Cagney & James Garner two entirely different movies in which she played to the hilt. She always had a glow around her, and was quite soft spoken. 

Doris Day brought her "sunny disposition " to this role. As history shows Calamiy Jane was a miserable gruffly person who had a rough go thru life. Doris Day was a definite ray of sunshine to the role of Calamity Jane.

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There is a huge difference between Jane and Annie. In Annie, in order to win her man, an archetypical chauvinist "pig", she throws the final shooting contest and humiliates herself publicly to get her man (who knows what she's done and loves her for it). Jane becomes true to herself, discards her romantic fantasy of Danny and acknowledges that her best friend is also the man she loves. Bill respects Jane, and only gives her a tough time when she is being untruthful, not when she's being strong. Singing "Secret Love", Jane has discovered her true self, a woman capable of doing men's work. Its a story of self-discovery.

Doris Day was a great singer and a terrific actress. In her early films she goes way over the top because the studio wanted her to become the "new" Betty Hutton. But the solid actress is there in her first non-musical role, the under-valued Storm Warning, a direct rip off of Streetcar Named Desire, where she gives a convincing performance as "Stella", and happens to be the film the Alfred Hitchcock saw and decided to write the role in The Man Who Knew Too Much specifically for her. 

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She acts and talks very boyish, far from the other musicals where a female is feminine. Doris Day's voice is wonderful and her performances got better in other musicals  she's in. Her performance adds her own persona to the movie because it makes the character likable and enjoyable to watch. 

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1. While Calamity Jane isn't like the other women in 50s pictures, being the gruff tomboy instead of the sensitive bombshell, she's still a sign of the times that women are not capable of doing what men are doing. They mock her and laugh at her, even as they accept her. She's not one of them, and the movie never lets her be seen as stronger or better than them (much like Annie Get Your Gun). They hold to the femininity that women can't, as opposed to today's films where often a woman will be the best with the gun or sword, depending on the storyline.

3. I think Doris Day makes Calamity Jane a relatable and fun character. When looking at Jane's history and her photos, I actually picture a Marjorie Main, the type of woman that really could rough it and take on the guys. Day's performance adds the feminine touch, even while she's playing a more character role for her. She may be trying to be one of the guys, but Day is still a beautiful woman, and it's not hard to believe Hickock could fall in love with her.

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Doris Day as Calamity Jane is the opposite of the typical female of the '50s and the movies of this time.  She is the strong female where most women of the time were demure, submissive wives and mothers.  She is representing the women who have had to give up their war time important jobs to return to their homes.

Like many actors, the actor grows with the role.  You always gain/learn something from what you do.  By the time she did Love Me or Leave Me she developed some serious chops.  She needed this to be able to do her comedy skills with Rock Hudson.  Remember comedy is hard.

I feel that her bubbly persona was a plus for her role as Calamity Jane.  She was perfect.  

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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?

Of the major musicals of the 1950"s, Day gives a performance that is not glorifying femininity.  Even so, Day can't hide how lovely she is, the pretty blonde with beautiful blue eyed. Day doesn't usually play a rough and ready characters. She and Anybodies in Westside Story, are the most masculine ingenue I can think of from the fifties.  (Majorie Main, just couldn't help it!)

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

Prior to this film, Day played a girl next door, when she appeared in On Moonlight Bay, she was young tomboy and we see her change to a more feminine character when she meets a boy.  In Calamity Jane, that just did not work out for her, she just needed to tidy up.  Over the decades, Day gets to play more sassy, sexy and mature roles, ut retains her Doris Dayness.

  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.

This is a Hollywood fantastical portrayal of real people who lived. I wouldn't want it any other way.  I guess someone else would have worked, but Day feels right in this role, and she still is lovely when she is covered in mud, dust and grime.

 

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1. I think Doris Day's character in Calamity Jane might have paralleled the return of the woman to the home after taking the men's jobs while they were at war.  You can see the toughness and attempts to fit in being laughed off by the guys.  Then when she realizes she is in love she softens and cleans up to allow the man to reusurp his role of leadership.  It is never easy to move back after being someone else's position.

2. I have seen several other films where she plays more sassy sexy roles so I believed she matured in becoming comfortable in the strong woman position she held as well as being practical and savvy working with men.

 

3.  I perceive her sunny disposition to be helpful in all her roles.  Her smile invited you in to get to know her personality and her full range of emotions in each character.

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Just a few thoughts about Doris Day.  She indeed does a lot of acting with her songs, much as Judy Garland did.  She does belt songs out in Pajama Game as well.  I think she does a much better job with a very similar film to Betty Hutton in Annie Get Your Gun, in which she is loud and strident.  

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1.This is a different kind of character than we have seen before. Calamity Jane wants to be seen as "one of the boys".  Most characters in the past were more feminine and needing to be "rescued", much more dependent on men. Day's character is an independent woman.

2.  Doris Day can play a variety of roles, and that is a strength. She is a wonderful singer, which makes her perfect for a musical, but also excels in her dramatic roles.

3. I think Doris Day adds to any role she is cast in. Her persona definitely added to the character of Calamity Jane, making her more human and believable.

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1. Calamity Jane is the “tom boy” type of female, she takes care of herself, protects herself, and doesn’t care how she looks. So she isn’t the feminine type of girl. But when she thinks she’s in love she try’s to change to fit in. She ends up conforming to a more feminine look, not a traditional female look, but a Calamity female look.

2. I’ve seen many Doris Day movies, but I never really payed attention to what the year was. I feel to answer this question I’d have to rewatch an earlier film, this film, and a later film, cause it’s been awhile.

3. In my opinion Doris Day’s persona did add to the role of Calamity Jane. Calamity is loud, dirty, and rough, someone I have a little trouble relating to. Without Doris I feel Calamity might come off as angry, hard to please, and a trouble maker. But Doris Day gives off this happy, caring vibe that makes Calamity endearing. Someone who cares about others and her town.

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1. Female representation in the 1950s was all about getting back to normal after WWII; i.e. women went back to being housewives while their husbands returned to work. That being said, I think Doris Day's Calamity Jane falls somewhere between the strong, independent female characters from the 40s and the more submissive, feminine housewives that were making a comeback in the 1950s. Jane is unashamed of being a tough, no-nonsense tomboy, but she's willing to soften her identity into something a bit more expected and feminine for the man she loves, though she never compromises who she really is.

2. Doris Day's early movies really only gave her room to do one thing: sing, but she always aquitted herself well, and brought so much charm and magnetism to her part, however small and fluffy it was. Later on, as she pushed for more challenging roles, she really showed what a great dramatic actress she was in films like "The Man Who Knew Too Much" (1956) and "Love Me Or Leave Me" (1957), though her early musical turn in "The West Point Story" (1951) with the equally talented James Cagney is still one of my favorites of hers!

3. I think Doris Day's sunny and optimistic persona fits very well with her role as Calamity Jane. While Jane's life probably wasn't quite as bright and glossy as the film shows, to have done all that she did at a time when women were expected to be feminine and proper all the time would have taken courage and optimism, and Day certainly puts that across in the film.

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1. It seems to me that the 50's were not a flexible time to be a woman. You were either a feminine lady - always wearing dresses and makeup, playing more passive roles compared to the men's active ones - or you were a tomboy who would eventually realize the error of your ways and get shoehorned into being the former. Jane definitely falls into the latter type, but never truly lets go of her masculine nature. She gets in touch with both the male and female aspects of one's personality, making her a much more complex character than the 50's would normally have her be.

2. I think Doris Day is great. She's got a wonderful voice, she always seems so friendly, and she managed to be in Hollywood without getting involved in any sort of controversies (which is no small feat). The only thing I can truly say against her is that most of her roles felt too similar. She always seemed to play amicable characters, strong-willed but nurturing, and always with a sunny disposition (so herself, basically). It's no wonder she stated Calamity Jane as her favorite film; Jane in such a departure from her usual characters. She's rough and tumble, as well as incredibly no-nonsense. Yet it's still Doris Day, so she's still really cheerful about it. I honestly don't think her characters evolved after this, but they're still characters I love to watch.

3. It definitely adds to the character. If you were to take Day's cheeriness out of this performance, all you'd be left with is yet another tough and gritty cowboy movie protagonist. You might as well have gotten John Wayne to play Calamity Jane, and I don't think anybody ever wanted to see Wayne in a dress.

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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?

The character of Jane falls a little outside of the 1950’s box. She is very strong, skillful, popular and the town’s kid sister. She likes to be in the thick of the action, not viewing quietly from the sidelines. She identifies the men in town as friends. She is all tomboy in the first scene. Yet, she is very sympathetic because the men do not treat her as a 50’s woman is treated - no polite respect or deference. This must be remedied in the movie.

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

In those Jack Carson films, she is often the naive ingenue trying to make in movies or radio. She relies on a male agent or friend to advise her. Or in the MacRae films she is the sweetheart next door.  The roles are fairly one dimensional. I kind of think some of the late 50’s and early 60’s roles are the same, in a way. In those she knows what is going on in the world and does her best to maintain her integrity and meet challenges on her own terms while people scheme or “mess up” around her. Always upbeat. Her darkest mood seems to be disappointment. That is “classic” Doris and I love that person.

However, I like 3 of her films of the mid 50’s the best - “Calamity Jane”, “Love Me or Leave Me” and “The Man Who Knew Too Much”.  I suppose the public loved her as the girlfriend, wife and mother, but I think she should have done a few more challenging pieces like these. She has some depth.

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

She is spot-on for me. The first time I watched this movie, I was not expecting the energy from this woman. She never stops moving - all action. A sunny disposition was probably an asset in the old west. A dark, angst ridden portrayal would do nothing for the story. Ms. Day’s personality gets you rooting for her from the get-go. This movie should be in the dictionary as the definition for spunk.

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How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical? First, let me confess that I am a huge Doris Day fan, and have been since the first time I saw her on screen when I was 6 years old. In her early films, it seems the studio wanted to capitalize on her singing ability, but when they realized she could act as well, she was able to move into dramatic roles as well as musical comedy. However, as good a dramatic actress as she was, I think she absolutely sparkles as a comedienne. The comedies she did in the 1960's with Rock Hudson, Cary Grant, James Garner, et al, are some of the best work she ever did. Her timing was impeccable, delivery always on target. She made her leading men look terrific (not that they needed any help!) She and Judy Garland were truly triple-threat actresses...singing, dancing, acting. They could do it all and make it look effortless.

 

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21 hours ago, rtoast said:

2.     How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?  Miss Day had done a couple of dramatic roles (“Young Man with a Horn” comes to mind) prior to making this movie, but most of her other movies before 1953 were what I consider “fluffy” musicals.  After 1953, she did more dramatic roles like “The Man Who Knew Too Much”, “Love Me of Leave Me” and “Midnight Lace” which made me wonder if she felt she had to prove her dramatic skills.  I’ve always thought she was a wonderful dramatic actress who also possessed a distinct flair for comedy.  She is enormously gifted who could do it all. 

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.  See my answer to question #1.  Doris Day gives it her best shot, but she comes off as a caricature of the historical figure.  Her vast gifts as an actress and singer make her eminently fun to watch, but I never could buy her performance as Calamity Jane.

 

All of Day's mid-50s dramatic roles really do show her growth and range! But I agree, she is sweet but not believable as Calamity Jane. She always comes off as ... Doris Day. The advantage that both she and Betty Hutton have playing opposite Howard Keel is that although he has a lovely voice, he is so wooden that he makes Day and Hutton's performances look even better in comparison. 

 

 

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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?

Things are starting to change for female performers in the 50s. Ten years prior to Friedan's Feminine Mystique,  Day's Jane is starting the revolution of portraying a woman in roles other than mother/wife/starlet. Jane has a job frequently occupied by a man; she gets dirty and is outwardly unfeminine.  Even after thoughtful reflection, Jane decides to be her true self and ditch the dresses for britches.  The closer we get to the end of the decade, more powerful assertive women will appear on film. Yay!

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

 

  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 have to admit that Doris Day does seem a bit too sunny to be Calamity Jane.  In the first clip as she rides the stagecoach into town, she's dirty and road-worn, but her gloriously bright smile breaks through the dirt.  Similarly, in a job so fraught with danger, Jane seems remarkably happy and cheerful to bring the stagecoach home.  Weren't people potentially shooting at her on the voyage?

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Doris Day is perfect as Calamity Jane.  The character spends the film attempting to determine her place in the community.  Initially, she  chooses the wrong man who falls in love with the more "feminine" actress.  Bill helps her to find her place as they discover their love.  Bill is the man for her because he can reconcile the "wildcat" aspect of her character with the "sweet" woman, and she can express herself with him.  This plot, carried out against the background of gold rush Deadwood, requires an expressive actor who remains sunny and positive throughout, even as she suffers rejection and jealousy.

After this film, Day made three films that demonstrate her acting ability, Love Me or Leave Me, The Man Who Knew Too Much and Julie. In Love Me or Leave Me, she has the challenge of matching the masterful acting of James Cagney as the controlling husband and manager of her character, Ruth Etting. Day holds her own and makes her character the centerpiece of the plot, as she should be. The Man Who Knew Too Much, co-starring James Stewart, was directed by Alfred Hitchcock.  A blond, but not a cool blond Hitchcockian personality, Day has the acting challenge of a distraught mother whose child has been kidnapped.     While Day sings in both Love Me or Leave Me and The Man Who Knew Too Much, in Julie she only sings (uncredited) over the title.  In a purely dramatic role as the wife of psychotic stalker, Louis Jourdan, she effectively portrays a frightened woman who is determined to carry on with her life.

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5 hours ago, KelRay said:

They mock her and laugh at her, even as they accept her. She's not one of them, and the movie never lets her be seen as stronger or better than them (much like Annie Get Your Gun).

I noticed this too. They like her as a pal ( I guess) because she does contribute to the community in bringing them stuff from Chicago and wherever. She is likeable and charming so they don't hate her. But their respect for her stops there as we saw in the saloon scene. She tripped and they laughed at her. They don't really see her as a little sister and certainly not one of the boys but she is there with them. But I don't see much in the way of real friendship or socializing with Calamity outside of work.

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On 6/19/2018 at 8:00 AM, 500efr said:

2. Doris Day got type-casted into the quintessential optimistic, breezy, comedic female lead. She was the blond, blue-eyed, all American type of woman. She has appeal to men because she not the threatening, dangerous, sultry, cosmopolitan woman of the world. She appeals to women because she could be your sister, best friend or next door neighbor.

Great observation! 

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Is it just me, or does this poster look like a pulp novel cover?  I don't think there was any scene with her shirt open that much. She's awfully flushed too, brandishing that whip!  Anyway....

RE: Our clip-  By the time she gets on the horse to finish "Secret Love" I almost feel the sigh of relief from the audience as Jane finally finds her proper place in society and leaves a lot of those tough girl ways behind.  Nothing smooths the rough edges like a good man. In fact, lack of a good man must be what is wrong with any woman who acted and dressed as Jane did.  (I am pretty good at looking at nearly anything through the social lens of the time, but sometimes.....)  

While I respect Day's talent, I just can't get into this film.  I admire so much the women of the "wild" west, and to see Calamity Jane, a hard-drinking, adventurous and troubled woman in love with a man who didn't want her portrayed as an adorable rapscallion who cleans up to a tame girl-next-door seems to diminish who the real women of the west were. I went to the cemetery in Deadwood to see the graves of Calamity Jane and Wild Bill. It was a joke they buried her next to him because he was on another wife when he died. Anyway, I don't usually have too much trouble with historical inaccuracy for the sake of a good story, but maybe this wasn't the story for a musical.  

 

doris!.JPG

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     As a longtime Judyphile, I have always imagined what AGYG might have been. I love Betty Hutton in the role, but you can see in the comparison videos here that Judy's professionalism when in front of the camera was still great, and her recordings were always spot-on. Does anyone know whether Judy had recorded all of the songs before being fired? What I found interesting is that they had to recast the children for blonde hair for Hutton (and their clothing is more backwoods).

Doin' What Comes Natur'lly Judy:

Doin' What Comes Natur'lly Betty:

 

 

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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 film character is so ahead of its time. You see here a very independent woman that knows her ways and yet can still be fragile with matters of the heart. Yes, there are similarities with other female characters but her strong will sets her apart indeed.

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

Doris Day was able to bring top notch performances with all her characters without losing her signature persona. From musicals to romantic comedies and the every so famous remake of The Man Who Knew Too Much, she comes in playing well with her counterparts without repeating herself. 

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

Again, she comes and adds to the character without compromising the storyline. She brings another facet to the performance making it her own.

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1. Even as a tomboy, Jane still has a certain quality of femininity; she may not be the most refined, high-society type of lady, but she's a lady nonetheless. What sets her apart from the usual female character in 1950s musicals is that, by the end, she's a balance of two personalities - though becoming softer and more ladylike in a few ways, she still holds onto the gumption and assertiveness that she had before. To me, it often seems like women in these musicals were either one or the other - a tomboy or a girly girl - but Jane is a special case because she shows that you could be both.

2. Something that's remarkable to me about Doris Day is her ability to adapt to her roles. This movie is a great example of that because, at this point in her career, she's already learned how to play tomboyish characters ("On Moonlight Bay," for example) and sweet, delicate characters ("Romance on the High Seas"). In "Calamity Jane," she gets to do a little of both, which shows that she was a capable actress in addition to a great singer and dancer - and she continues to get better over time. In her later movies, she expands her repertoire to include dramas, straight comedies, and more sophisticated roles.

3. When I think of this movie, I really couldn't imagine anyone else playing the part but Doris. Her onscreen persona is what made the character who she was, and it's part of what makes the movie so memorable. What I like best is that Doris applies her optimistic, "can-do" attitude, that she brought to her other characters, to Jane - and it pays off! I think she was perfect for the part, and her sunny personality does much more to add to the character than it does to take away from it. 

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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 character is hard to pin-point.  With her "one of the guys," "tom boy" mentality, it makes me think about the "Buddy Musicals" with her body language and persona.  It is also reminiscent of the Wartime female characters that have a strong purpose in providing for themselves, she can handle herself, wears pants, and seems tough.   She certainly is not the helpless, sexy characters Marylin Monroe often played, but she also is smart, like the brunettes normally are, but is a blonde.  Even in the second clip when she speaks of love, she keeps her sensibility, without reverting to the demure, feminine, helpless lady that we have seen in the past. 
  2. How do you think Doris Day grows as an actress in her various roles in the 1950s, before and after this musical?
    • I've not seen any other Doris Day roles yet, so I can't really answer this, yet.  I'll be keeping my eyes open as I watch my DVR to see her progression.
  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 and sunny persona gives a youthfulness to the character, but she still shows her strength.  Even in today's culture, women have to find a balance of standing their ground, without coming off as cold hearted.  It's a fine dance to be feminine, attractive, and desirable, but with showing we have brains, can handle our own life, we don't "need" a guy, etc.  Calamity Jane seems to be one of the first representations of a women who is going through this struggle of a dance, where she ends up keeping who she is, but in a more mature way.  It adds to the character to show the metamorphosis and settling into a middle ground, but I can see that some might say it detracts as it might come off as she is losing herself to get a guy, but I don't see it that way. 

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