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Doris Day Mentioned Quite Positively in New Book: The Movie Musical by Jeanine Basinger

Posted: 23 Nov 2019, 21:51
by docwheels
Jeanine Basinger's "The Movie Musical" is a thorough review of American musicals - past and present. It looks at musicals by name and at musical stars from the 30's to the present. In the midst of all this Doris Day stands out as one of the author's favorite musical stars.

The author starts out chronicling how Warner's didn't know whether to cast the 1947 Doris Day as Betty Hutton or Ginger Rogers - but by the end of Romance on the HIgh Seas, they were highlighting what..."Day herself had: an easy, likable personality, a bit of the tomboy, but kind and sweet—and, of course, with great musical chops. Day wasn’t beautiful; she was pretty, however, very pretty, and she was appealing and had warmth. the end, when it had become clear to the studio that she was going to succeed, her character has more class, more tenderness, and Day’s natural grace is allowed to emerge."

"What audiences saw in Doris Day was that, unlike most other movie stars, she seemed to really be a normal person like them. She was blond, blue-eyed, lightly freckled, and had a big grin with slightly protruding teeth. ...She had a sense of humor that came across, and she had a three-dimensional presence. She seemed rounded and real, with actual hips and long legs. No one who ever interviewed Day or wrote about her failed to mention that they found her unexpectedly sexy. More men (and women) wrote about Day and defined her body and personality as “sexy” than ever did Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was defined as a sex object, or a sex goddess, a fantasy of sex that was glorious but unreal. Day was defined in reality as well as on film as sexy. (No one has suggested that maybe the reason Day was always defending her virtue in her later movies was because so many wanted to rob her of it.) Romance set the pattern for Day. In the rest of her musicals at Warners, she always played a “real,” down-to-earth kind of American girl,..."

The book remains highly complimentary of Ms. Day throughout. For instance:

"She did have a touch of both Hutton and Rogers, but also a touch of Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, and Lana Turner. She had a lot going on, and the public saw it—saw it and loved her."

"She can put a song over as well as any singer who was ever in the movies. The fact that she can also dance—and not just tap, but really dance, as a romantic partner, a comic cutup, a balletic swan, or whatever was needed—meant that Doris Day could, and did, carry her specially designed musical star vehicles."

"Doris Day was a great musical-comedy star, but also a very good emotional actress....What is unusual about her career is that around 1955, only a few years into one of the most successful musical careers of any female star, Day’s dramatic work bled into her musicals."

"Day was an ironclad box-office movie star because Doris Day could act and Doris Day could sing. (Later, the world would also learn that Doris Day was a terrific light comedienne.)"

"Doris Day could make any musical into her own star vehicle. She had never needed any help with that process, not even at Warners in 1948 with Romance on the High Seas. By the time of Jumbo, she is an artist, pure and simple. What a shame she wasn’t cast in the movie versions of South Pacific and The Unsinkable Molly Brown, both of which were fine without her, but she was the perfect choice for both and would have delivered the music to perfection."

The Wall Street Journal, in it's review of the book, said, "Some among Ms. Basinger’s cavalcade of female stars ( Esther Williams, Betty Grable ) have been covered by the dust of history, others have been buried in that dust (Ruth Etting, Alice Faye, Betty Hutton ). Doris Day is among those movie musical stars whose films seem not entirely to have lost their glow."

Re: Doris Day Mentioned Quite Positively in New Book: The Movie Musical by Jeanine Basinger

Posted: 24 Nov 2019, 05:49
by Jas1
Thanks Doc...that was fabulous to read.

Re: Doris Day Mentioned Quite Positively in New Book: The Movie Musical by Jeanine Basinger

Posted: 24 Nov 2019, 13:49
by howard
Wonderful, Doc. Thanks so much. Couldn't agree more about "South Pacific." Doris was a natural to have played Nellie Forbush. Mitzi Gaynor was good, but DD would have been great. Her shining hour, I believe.

Re: Doris Day Mentioned Quite Positively in New Book: The Movie Musical by Jeanine Basinger

Posted: 14 Dec 2020, 20:19
by Musiclover
Jeanine Basinger, the author, is a witty and very astute film historian and professor of film studies. I just had the opportunity to read the entire section about DD in this book, and I love the author's closing comment: "During her long period of reclusiveness, Doris Day could have stepped forward to make a movie any time she wanted to. We should have been so lucky."

Re: Doris Day Mentioned Quite Positively in New Book: The Movie Musical by Jeanine Basinger

Posted: 20 Dec 2020, 21:13
by Johnny
Thank you so much docwheels for your wonderful post on the book The Movie Musical by Jeanine Basinger. It is so gratifying to see the appreciation expressed for Doris Day in her musicals.

Some of the comments were intriguing such as Doris having a touch of Bing Crosby, Lana Turner and Frank Sinatra. These comments are complimentary but I think Doris Day’s authenticity both in her acting and singing outshines the others.

I would love to see a book devoted entirely to Doris Day musicals. Love Me or Leave Me, The Pajama Game and Billy Rose’s Jumbo are superior musicals.

I really enjoyed reading all the other posts . There is a sense of energy and enthusiasm returning to the forum.