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Doris Day as SOTM March 2021


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4 hours ago, Paulio said:

I do include it in the Class as an indicator that she didn't stop making movies because none of them were successful but because of the contract Marty had signed with CBS for films and television. The sleeping potion scene in "Lights" is one of the funniest slapstick scenes of the era and Doris again shows her skill at physical comedy.

The script is not terrific but certainly after the prior two films, it was an opportunity to show that Doris could still sparkle on-screen, if given even a moderately good script. 

I was a junior high student when it was released in 1968 and our family saw it at Radio City with about 6,000 in the audience. I remember when Doris Day's name and image came on during the opening credits (sung by The Lettermen), the audience burst into spontaneous applause. During the sleeping potion scene, you could tell they'd cranked the sound way up because the laughter and clapping was drowning out some of the dialogue. 

Again, not a classic by any means, but there are scenes that are genuinely funny and very well acted. 

 Very interesting Paulio (sorry I called you Paul earlier!). Great anecdote about seeing WHERE WERE YOU... in the theater when it was initially released. And I am glad your students get a chance to see it.

I will be a bit of a non-conformist and say that I actually like THE BALLAD OF JOSIE (1967). It's probably her most-played film from the end of her movie career thanks to the folks at Starz/Encore Westerns who schedule it a lot each year.

Yes, it's a terrible script. But she knows it's a terrible script and ever the professional, she still works hard to sell it to the audience. I think it includes some of her best work as a comedienne because in order for a dud script to work, she realizes that she has to believe in the absurdity of the plot and the ridiculousness of the dialogue they've given her. So that is exactly what she does.

She gets worked up (in character) and goes over-the-top in a few scenes but there is a sly little wink underneath the performance...she's saying if you believe this tripe like I am pretending to believe this tripe, I have oceanfront property in Montana to sell you! Once you see that she's basically subverting the jokiness of the film, she brings you in on the joke and it becomes very enjoyable to watch. To me, that's what Doris Day did best-- she didn't give up on the material even if it was beneath her. She always found a way to somehow make it work. She was smarter than what they gave her to work with...she did this on the sitcom too, since some of the scripts for The Doris Day Show were not very well-written either.

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13 hours ago, MoPo said:

Why doesn’t TCM ever run Where WereYou When the Lights Went Out? No DVD or blu-ray release either. Why is this Doris title MIA?

I think there's some sort of rights issue involved. It was an MGM release, but I think it was produced through Filmways or some independent producer. TCM has never shown it! I remember seeing it when it came out and I think once when one of the networks ran it many years ago. It's a shame it remains unseen.

Pajama Game is another one. TCM used to run it, but hasnt been seen for many years. I think that's tied up too. But at least its on dvd!

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Paul is fine since its my name. For some reason when I registered, every variation of Paul was taken - how appalling!!! :)

I wish they'd kept the title, "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch" for "Josie" since it would have implied a bit of humor. I know people who didn't go to "Josie" because they thought it was a musical, due to the title.  It's a wonderful cast and I agree with you about some of the scenes  enabling Doris to do what she does so well.  In the theater, on the wide-screen, it looked very impressive.  I probably have mixed feelings because I saw it in Concord, NH on Mother's Day in 1968. The 1300 seat movie palace, that had been almost filled when I saw "The Glass Bottom Boat" less than two years earlier, had about a dozen people.  

I did enjoy it a lot more than "Caprice"!!!

I also agree with you about the television series. One of the biggest stars in movie history and the writing was often so desultory. She was never less than great and worked as though she were in "The Thrill of it All" or one of her best films. She also had some great cast members and guest stars.  Sometimes the script would rise to her level but the canned laughter was a downer. Doris asked CBS to drop the canned laughter and they told her "No!". 

Oh well - whatever will be, will be!! 

 

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NBC aired "Lights" on their Monday Night at the Movies in the fall of 1971 and reran it in the spring. 

I don't recall it ever being part of a syndication package of titles that aired elsewhere. 

It was co-produced by Everett Freeman, who also co-produced "The Glass Bottom Boat". Her two picture MGM deal signed in late 1964 was for those two pictures. 

When I spoke with Doris about it and she said she didn't know why it was tied up, she also laughingly said, "Marty probably did something he shouldn't have..." 

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From the same songwriting team. Sadly one of them died soon after the last one (can't remember which) and that ended their string of hits.

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Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Ross died in 1955 at the age of 29. 

Adler composed the 1958 Doris Day hit, "Everybody Loves a Lover". 

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2 hours ago, Paulio said:

I do include it in the Class as an indicator that she didn't stop making movies because none of them were successful but because of the contract Marty had signed with CBS for films and television. The sleeping potion scene in "Lights" is one of the funniest slapstick scenes of the era and Doris again shows her skill at physical comedy.

The script is not terrific but certainly after the prior two films, it was an opportunity to show that Doris could still sparkle on-screen, if given even a moderately good script. 

I was a junior high student when it was released in 1968 and our family saw it at Radio City with about 6,000 in the audience. I remember when Doris Day's name and image came on during the opening credits (sung by The Lettermen), the audience burst into spontaneous applause. During the sleeping potion scene, you could tell they'd cranked the sound way up because the laughter and clapping was drowning out some of the dialogue. 

Again, not a classic by any means, but there are scenes that are genuinely funny and very well acted. 

 

I remember that morning after scene as being very funny. The rest was kind of hit and miss. Too many black out scenes not really connected to Doris' storyline. They cobbled together some French farce script with the N.Y. Blackout event.

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1 minute ago, Paulio said:

Richard Adler and Jerry Ross. Ross died in 1955 at the age of 29. 

Adler composed the 1958 Doris Day hit, "Everybody Loves a Lover". 

I didn't know that about Lover. My parents had that single and I couldn't understand how Doris could sing a duet with herself. My mother tried to explain it to me, but I couldn't get the concept.

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1 hour ago, Paulio said:

Paul is fine since its my name. For some reason when I registered, every variation of Paul was taken - how appalling!!! :)

I wish they'd kept the title, "Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch" for "Josie" since it would have implied a bit of humor. I know people who didn't go to "Josie" because they thought it was a musical, due to the title.  It's a wonderful cast and I agree with you about some of the scenes  enabling Doris to do what she does so well.  In the theater, on the wide-screen, it looked very impressive.  I probably have mixed feelings because I saw it in Concord, NH on Mother's Day in 1968. The 1300 seat movie palace, that had been almost filled when I saw "The Glass Bottom Boat" less than two years earlier, had about a dozen people.  

I did enjoy it a lot more than "Caprice"!!!

I also agree with you about the television series. One of the biggest stars in movie history and the writing was often so desultory. She was never less than great and worked as though she were in "The Thrill of it All" or one of her best films. She also had some great cast members and guest stars.  Sometimes the script would rise to her level but the canned laughter was a downer. Doris asked CBS to drop the canned laughter and they told her "No!". 

Oh well - whatever will be, will be!! 

Yes, MEANWHILE BACK AT THE RANCH would have been better. It sounds more high-concept. It's a shame that Rock Hudson wasn't cast in Peter Graves' part, since THE BALLAD OF JOSIE was produced at Universal where he was still under contract. That would have given the film something extra and put Rock and Doris into a different genre together. Plus it kind of adheres to the formula they used in LOVER COME BACK, where it's her against the men, only laid on top of a western with all the tropes that come with it.

The reason I think Doris' performance works so well in this film, at least for me, is because she's making it seem like she's playing the material straight. But if you look carefully she's not playing it straight at all. 

The sitcom benefits from hand-picked costars and guest stars. She wanted to reunite on screen with Billy DeWolfe who worked with her in TEA FOR TWO...and he's a lot of fun in a recurring role as one of her adversaries. 

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4 hours ago, Paulio said:

Because my next Class is via ZOOM, it's available to anyone, anywhere. It's the first time I've done the Class for 5 weeks instead of 4. 

This is the link should any "Day lovers" which to indulge. 

Colby-Sawyer College - Browse Catalog (cashnet.com)

Paul, 

When I clicked on the link you provided, I got this message:

You do not have permission to view this page using the credentials that you supplied.

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So sorry. I will try to find out what link would work and post.

Love your remarks about "Josie" and about the series. I so agree about the co-stars and the wonderful guest stars. Everyone from Jodie Foster to Estelle Winwood. It was always great when it was someone with whom she shared a film connection. 

John Gavin was a guest and, of course Billy.  Patrick O'Neal had played her husband in "Lights" and Lew Ayres had been married to her childhood idol, Ginger Rogers.  Jackie Joseph had appeared in "Eggroll", Alan Hale Jr. had been in both "Young at Heart" and "The West Point Story". I could go on and on, there were so many.

Sometimes for background music, especially during the annual fashion shows, music from Doris Day films was played including "Caprice", "Send Me No Flowers", "Au Revoir is Goodbye with a Smile" from "Do Not Disturb", etc.

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What I love with doing it via ZOOM as opposed to the dozens of in-person Classes, is the ability for those "at a distance" to partake. Last fall I had individuals from North Hollywood, Potomac, Maryland, Washington, DC and even England. Their input and questions made the Class all the more fascinating. It enabled me to get a perspective about why Doris mattered. 

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11 minutes ago, Paulio said:

So sorry. I will try to find out what link would work and post.

Love your remarks about "Josie" and about the series. I so agree about the co-stars and the wonderful guest stars. Everyone from Jodie Foster to Estelle Winwood. It was always great when it was someone with whom she shared a film connection. 

John Gavin was a guest and, of course Billy.  Patrick O'Neal had played her husband in "Lights" and Lew Ayres had been married to her childhood idol, Ginger Rogers.  Jackie Joseph had appeared in "Eggroll", Alan Hale Jr. had been in both "Young at Heart" and "The West Point Story". I could go on and on, there were so many.

Sometimes for background music, especially during the annual fashion shows, music from Doris Day films was played including "Caprice", "Send Me No Flowers", "Au Revoir is Goodbye with a Smile" from "Do Not Disturb", etc.

Mary Wickes was in a season 1 episode of The Doris Day Show and of course she had been in four Doris Day movies. As you said, there were a lot of great guest stars.

Your mentioning the fashion show episodes caused me to look at a piece I wrote a few years ago on one of my blogs. It's about the sitcom and several of the episodes, including the fashion show from season 5. I just re-read it and I think it holds up rather well, though it's a bit dated (because since I wrote it we've lost Doris, Kaye Ballard and Rose Marie). But I will post it here in this thread a bit later.

Hopefully TCM viewers reading the thread, because of the Star of the Month tribute, will seek out the sitcom if they've never watched it before. I believe all five seasons are currently on Amazon Prime.

***

The Doris Day Show had three different formats. Season 1-- Doris and the kids on the farm with her father Buck and their hired hand. Seasons 2 & 3-- Doris and the kids in the city with their neighbors, plus Doris' coworkers and visits from Buck. Seasons 4 & 5-- Doris in the city without kids plus new coworkers, new neighbors and a succession of boyfriends.

Season 1 is very much like Family Affair where there is a lot of warmth and wholesomeness, and the kids are prominently featured. Seasons 2 & 3 take us away from some of that. And seasons 4 & 5 is more like That Girl and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. I think I prefer 2 & 3 since those episodes retain some of the homespun quality of the first season but then open up new story avenues without losing the kids.

Doris needed family around her. Getting rid of her family entirely in the penultimate season was a mistake in my opinion. The kids should have remained, even in a recurring capacity. She seems a bit aimless without the kids. Also, the original concept was that she was tired of life in the big city and moved to the farm to be near Buck and provide stability for the boys.

If they were going to keep changing the format, then it should have started in the city and ended up on the farm with her marrying the hired hand. The overall progression, the ultimate direction of the storylines, seems backwards to me. They could have started her single, such as having her be a divorcee where the boys lived with their dad off screen on the east coast somewhere. Then the dad dies, the kids come to San Francisco to live with her in her small city apartment. They bring their huge dog, cramping Doris' style even more. Then eventually after several visits from her father, they go to live on his farm outside the city so the boys will have a more stable life. She still travels into the city for work-related episodes. That's how I would have designed the series.

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I LOVE your redesign. Where were you in 1973?  :)

Another mistaken notion is that the show was cancelled. I guess that would be correct except that it was cancelled by Doris, who announced in early 1973 that she was not going to continue. CBS actually asked her to do one more season and she declined, agreeing instead to do the special in February of 1975 (shot in late 1974). 

I met her for the first time in June of 1973 when I was 19. We had breakfast at Nate n' Al's and then went back to her house to visit. 

The show was still in reruns and I half jokingly told her, "what am I going to do now with my Monday evenings?"

She responded, "I know what I'm going to do with mine!"

She told me they wanted her to do another year and she said, "I can just see it now. I marry Jonathan (Patrick O'Neal), we have two boys and then he dies, and I go back to the farm and Buck and we start all over again..."

I agree with you about Seasons 2 and 3. There are few actresses in Hollywood history who work as well with children as Doris did. She was never threatened that they'd upstage her and the on-screen warmth is so natural and believable. Never a false moment.  "Daisies", "Thrill", "Eggroll", Jane", etc.  Nobody does it better than Doris and makes you feel the connection without it being syrupy.  As good as some episodes were in Seasons 4 and 5, I missed the kids,  Lord Nelson and Buck, although he'd been phased out in Season 3. But, whenever I saw his name as Director of an episode during Season 3, I smiled. 

I agree with you that the show is worth seeking out on Amazon, for many reasons.

 

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Screen shot 2015-11-21 at 9.57.16 AM

I’ve been watching episodes of The Doris Day Show. Me-TV, a station that specializes in golden age television, presented something called Doris Day Day when she had a milestone birthday.

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The station aired seven episodes of Doris’ sitcom that originally ran from 1968-1973. Each episode was given a 35-minute time slot to allow commercials (for Petco and the Doris Day Animal Foundation) and cast wraparounds (with Doris doing a voice over at the end).

The episodes aired were: ‘The Buddy’ (from S1); ‘Doris Gets a Job’ (from S2); ‘Doris Finds an Apartment (from S3); ‘Tony Bennett Is Eating Here’ (from S3); ‘Doris Goes to Hollywood’ (from S3); ‘Hospital Benefit’ (from S5); and ‘It’s a Dog’s Life’ (from S5). No season 4 episodes were selected.
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Several cast members were interviewed. Kaye Ballard, who had three of her dogs with her, talked about Doris’ hotel in Carmel which allows dogs. Plus Kaye said she named the restaurant in the show after an Italian eatery in NYC she liked. Bernie Kopell talked about the Tony Bennett episode. Rose Marie discussed Doris’ acting and comic timing. Philip Brown said he felt like Doris was really his mother for 12 hours a day, though he had a crush on her. Plus he said there were animals on the set and there was always something to do. 

James Hampton said he wishes the show could have lasted ten years. He also said that when Doris’ character moved off the farm, she had a better wardrobe. Jackie Joseph talked about becoming a life-long friend of Doris’ and she described Doris’ cottage-style dressing room at the end of the set where Doris would take breaks to spend time with her dogs. The best behaved animals were able to come on to the set and sit on or under the cast members’ chairs– though Jackie said they were always quiet.

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Lee Meriwether, who guest-starred in the hospital benefit/fashion show episode from season 5, was interviewed briefly. There were well-wishers like Tony Bennett, who appeared in one of the episodes, plus some of Doris’ friends who did not appear on the show, like Betty White, Robert Wagner and Connie Francis who all wished her a happy birthday.

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There are 128 episodes of The Doris Day Show. I tend to create my own themes when I watch the episodes. For example, I might focus on ones that include Kaye Ballard. Or ones where Billy DeWolfe appears as a recurring character. Something I read in a user review about the sitcom caught my attention. A reviewer on the IMDb stated that Doris’ sitcom was not really a classic, since most of the supporting characters were not as developed as what we’d find in The Dick Van Dyke Show or The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

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The reviewer blamed the problem on the fact that all plots had to revolve around Doris. To some extent it's true, I suppose. Especially in the later seasons, her character moves off the farm and even her children are dropped from the storylines. With the exception of Billy DeWolfe’s character Mr. Jarvis, most of the neighbors and the officer workers are basically props in Doris’ stories. Even the boyfriends do not seem to have much character development, and they are just as disposable as her bosses and various associates.

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Another reviewer said the show seldom distinguished itself by rising above formulaic sitcom conventions popular at the time. Not sure if I agree with this particular statement. All sitcoms have a formula that works for them, and within the parameters of the format, Doris’ TV series does try to be a bit thought-provoking. One episode from the beginning of season 3 called ‘The Feminist’ seems like a clever poke at how Doris herself might be perceived as a trailblazer. Hardly standard sitcom fare, if you ask me.

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There was previously a Doris Day Show on the radio. And if you look at all the movies Doris made, especially the first batch at Warner Brothers in the late 1940s and early 1950s, you will have to admit that Doris herself is the whole show. Most people do not approach a viewing of LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME to see James Cagney, as great as he may be; nor do they watch CALAMITY JANE to see anyone else but Doris. She’s the reason folks watch. And probably the producers and writers of her sitcom knew it. Doris herself knew it.

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All her film and television vehicles were plotted around Doris’ unique talents and personality. And there’s a reason people still remember and honor her years later. She brought a sense of fun to the audience, a sense of down to earth entertainment.

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Yes, I watched that Me-TV tribute. Was nice they included interview bits. Was that Hospital Event episode the one where she appears in a bikini?

I wonder if they are planning anything for her100th birthday in Carmel next year? Hope so. Her auction was virtual.

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25 minutes ago, Hibi said:

Yes, I watched that Me-TV tribute. Was nice they included interview bits. Was that Hospital Event episode the one where she appears in a bikini?

I wonder if they are planning anything for her100th birthday in Carmel next year? Hope so. Her auction was virtual.

If I remember correctly, Me-TV initially advertised it as a celebration of her 90th birthday but she was actually older than that. 

She did not appear on screen, just the voiceover at the end which I mentioned.

Her sitcom was not regularly airing on Me-TV. The episodes were on Hulu at the time but have since been moved to Amazon Prime. 

Because they allocated 35 minutes for each episode, this allowed plenty of time for the interviews which typically occurred as lead-ins to the episodes, then as follow-ups after the episodes. The Tony Bennett segment was probably my favorite. But they were all good. It was a pleasant way to spend 3 1/2 hours on a weekend afternoon.

And yes, she wore a bikini in the season 5 fashion show episode.

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19 hours ago, Hibi said:

RIght. That was her official 90th. In reality it was her 92nd! LOL.

The Me-TV tribute must have occurred in April 2014. 

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A few years ago when it was announced that she had actually been born in 1922 and not 1924, her spokesperson stated that she was happy to know how old she was and that she had not known.

That was a lie.

Doris and I talked many times about age and in 1987, she mentioned that she was turning 65.

Warner Brothers changed her date of birth from 1922 to 1924 in 1947 when she signed a contract with them. Apparently they wanted their new star to be 23 and not 25. In those days 25 seemed a bit "mature" to be launching a film career. Because of her mantra of honoring a contract, et al. Doris went along with it and publicly, never changed it. 

In 1964 Time Magazine was going to do a cover story about the country's number one box-office draw. They discovered she waa actually 42 and were planning to title the story, "Doris Day, 42, Turns 40!" Marty and Rogers and Cowan put the kibosh on the story. 

Later when she wrote her autobiography with A.E. Hotchner, she told him that she ought to get it out in the open and state the year she was born. He told her no, because it would  make it appear she had been lying herself as opposed to just going along with what Warners had initiated. To family and friends it was always 1922.

The Memo at Warners announcing the change also addressed "concerns" as to how to market the new star. After all, she'd been married twice, had a 5 year old son (as of 1947) and had been professionally performing since 1939. Doris refused to deny her son or the fact that she'd been married twice. She went along with the age thing once it was explained to her.    

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23 minutes ago, Paulio said:

A few years ago when it was announced that she had actually been born in 1922 and not 1924, her spokesperson stated that she was happy to know how old she was and that she had not known.

That was a lie.

Doris and I talked many times about age and in 1987, she mentioned that she was turning 65.

Warner Brothers changed her date of birth from 1922 to 1924 in 1947 when she signed a contract with them. Apparently they wanted their new star to be 23 and not 25. In those days 25 seemed a bit "mature" to be launching a film career. Because of her mantra of honoring a contract, et al. Doris went along with it and publicly, never changed it. 

In 1964 Time Magazine was going to do a cover story about the country's number one box-office draw. They discovered she waa actually 42 and were planning to title the story, "Doris Day, 42, Turns 40!" Marty and Rogers and Cowan put the kibosh on the story. 

Later when she wrote her autobiography with A.E. Hotchner, she told him that she ought to get it out in the open and state the year she was born. He told her no, because it would  make it appear she had been lying herself as opposed to just going along with what Warners had initiated. To family and friends it was always 1922.

The Memo at Warners announcing the change also addressed "concerns" as to how to market the new star. After all, she'd been married twice, had a 5 year old son (as of 1947) and had been professionally performing since 1939. Doris refused to deny her son or the fact that she'd been married twice. She went along with the age thing once it was explained to her.    

Thanks Paul. Interesting tidbits. I think Dale Evans went through some of this when she was contracted by 20th Century Fox in 1942 at the age of 30. She was on her third marriage (the first two marriages ended in divorce and the third one was heading for divorce). Dale had given birth at age 15. The studio said her 14 and a half year old son was her teen brother!

I can see why Marty objected to the Time Magazine cover story on Doris. It would look like she had been deceiving her fans all those years.

On another note, I read that Doris' first film at Warners was actually intended for Betty Hutton. But Betty had to bow out of ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948) due to pregnancy, and Doris was then placed into the role. True? I wasn't sure if this story had any merit since Betty Hutton was a Paramount contractee and her boss/mentor Buddy DeSylva was not in the habit of loaning her out to other studios. If the story is true, then it may explain why the character of Georgia Garrett is a bit loopier than some of Doris subsequent roles at WB...because the script had been developed with Betty in mind..?

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