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New Doris Day featurette -- with wonderful narration by Ms. Day herself!


BingFan

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Yes! I have seen "The Celluloid Closet." It was in so many ways very informative and yet rather amusing at times, especially with all the so called hidden meanings behind various films. At the time of its release, "Calamity Jane" really didn't cause much in the way of gay speculation. Not very many people in 1953, knew about or read the various hearsay relating to Martha Jane Cannary, or the real "Calam." Naturally, Hollywood with all its Illusionism, kept issues of sexuality away from any of the myths and imagery that saturated so many famous people of history. It would take another 30 years, with new revelations around the whole closeted issue of "Calamity Jane" to finally come to the public eye.

 

What I find so interesting about "Calamity Jane" the movie, has to do with a technical connection made to another film, the 1950 MGM spectarular musical on the life of Annie Oakley. It's been beleived that at one point, after Judy Garland had been released from playing Annie for the film musical, "Annie Get Your Gun," Doris was one of the contenders to play the role. However, producer Arthur Freed felt Doris lacked a bit of experience and frankly she was just getting her career at Warner Brothers underway. Finally, Betty Hutton, who had been replaced by Doris in 1948 for "Romance On The High Seas," ended up being chosen to play Annie Oakley. Of course, both roles are different, as well as the plots to the story. So, to really compare wouldn't be fair. It's been surmised that "Calamity Jane" was simply a shadowy version of what MGM had previously produced. This idea comes into full circle, with Howard Keel playing opposite Doris, when he had been opposite Betty Hutton in "Annie Get Your Gun." Fans of Doris have always used the "Calamity Jane" hoopla to say that Doris could have played "Annie Oakley." Certainly, "Calamity Jane" turned out to be a huge hit for Warner Brothers and this was the film that made Doris a bona fide super star. By the time of this success, the career of Betty Hutton had stalled and she was on the way out. Doris even made the front cover-story of LIfe Magazine about her playing "Calamity Jane." Whether you like "Calamity Jane" or not, it was the biggest hit film for Doris up to that time.

 

Years later, Doris did get to play the role of Annie for a musical record album on Columbia Records. The entire songs of the show, complete with a fine cast of singers reproduced a fine version of the musical. Singer Robert Goulet played the lead male role opposite Doris. The album was released in 1963 and did rather well with the fans. This album was also part of a series to reproduce various other classic musicals. Anyway, Doris had been for so many years, one of the major vocalists of Columbia Records.

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Doris keeps telling us that she made 39 movies. TCM is showing 28 of them during her reign as Star of the one-sixth-of-a-month. Out of curiosity, I checked my movie watching journal regarding the intersection of the remaining 11 with various Turner channels. Three of them are listed on the current month’s schedule for two of the Encore channels.

 

*The Ballad of Josie* (1967) - on Encore Westerns 3/28/12

 

*Calamity Jane* (1953) - on Encore Westerns 5/1/12

 

*Caprice* (1967)

 

*The Man Who Knew Too Much* (1956) - on Encore Suspense 4/8/12; TCM 2/23/08

 

*The Pajama Game* (1957) - on WTBS (vaguely remembered) c. 1980

 

*Pillow Talk* (1959)

 

*Send Me No Flowers* (1964)

 

*Teacher's Pet* (1958) - on TCM 2/6/08

 

*Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?* (1968)

listed on preliminary TCM schedule for 4/22/11, a no-show; on TNT c. 1990

 

*With Six You Get Eggroll* (1968) - on TCM 8/10/08

 

*Young at Heart* (1954) - on TCM 1/27/08

 

 

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I dont understand what the problem is with Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? never being shown. I'm pretty sure MGM released it. I can understand her 60s Fox films being a problem, but what's the problem with Lights?

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"Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?" was indeed produced and released by MGM in the summer (June) of 1968. It was the second film of a two picture deal Miss Day had signed with MGM, the first film being 1966's "The Glass Bottom Boat". Both films were co-produced by Everett Freeman and Miss Day's husband, Martin Melcher.

"Lights" had a great cast that included Robert Morse, Patrick O'Neal, Lola Albright, Ben Blue, Jim Backus, Steve Allen, Pat Paulsen, Terry Thomas and columnist Earl Wilson among others.

While the film received mixed reviews, it did gross almost 8 million dollars domestically (this is gross not net), which was more than the combined gross of Miss Day's two previous films, "Caprice" and "The Ballad of Josie". That gross would be comparable to almost 70 million today.

"Lights" also outgrossed such high profile films from this period such as "The Comedians" starring Taylor and Burton, Julie Andrews' multi-million dollar roadshow release, "Star" and anu number of other releases.

When it opened at Radio City Music Hall in NYC in early August of 1968, it broke all box-office records in the then 36 year old theatre, taking in some $ 278,000 the first week and being seen by more than 137,000 people. Variety trumpeted that it was "the highest single week gross for any one picture in any one theatre in history..." During it's 6 week engagement at the Hall, cut short only because of a prior booking of MGM's "Hot Millions" in September, it grossed close to its first week figure for the 2nd through 4th weeks inclusive.

I saw the film at the Music Hall as a young teenager and seeing it in a theatre with 6,000 added to the humor greatly. My 88 year old mother who is not a Day fan still remarks that she has never heard such sustained laughter (6 minutes worth) in any film as there was during the sleeping potion scene.

It's not a great film but there are moments of amusement and several hilarious scenes, however, it is a film that has to be seen with an audience. Watching it on NBC when they broadcast it in 1971 was not the same, nor was it anywhere as amusing when watching it on VHS in the 90's.

Day is especially funny in the first scene. She plays a Broadway actress starring in a play entitled, "The Constant Virgin". She's being interviewed by Albright who plays a reporter. Day notes that she'd love to play a "streetwalker in an Italian film....."

It's also interesting to note that Day's next film, "With Six You Get Eggroll" was her final film and that the domestic gross for "Eggroll" exceeded 10 million dollars - over 80 million today. It proved to be one of the top ten moneymaking films of Day's 39 picture career and a nice success to bow out with.

As for "Lights" - not sure why it has become so unavailable since "Glass Bottom Boat" from the same team is regularly shown.

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Yes, I remember the film did pretty well (especially at the Music Hall, since of course it was set during the NY blackout...) although reviews werent good. Never thought the film was that much (a great idea sunk by a lackluster script though Day has some funny moments) but I would like to see it again! Dont understand why it sits in limbo......

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