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Doris Day and her Movies

Updated on August 29, 2010

Born on 3rd April 1922 in Cincinnati, Ohio Doris Day's first aspirations were to become a professional dancer, but after being involved in a car accident was confined to a wheel chair for part of her teenage years. Forced to reassess what she wanted to do in life she took to singing, first on the radio and then on the road with various bands. It wasn't until 1948 that Doris Day would appear in her first movie "It's Magic" (originally known as "Romance on the High Seas") under contract to Warner Bros. So impressed with Doris Day in her big screen outing that the following year she made 2 more movies My Dream Is Yours and It's a Great Feeling.

It soon became very apparent that audiences liked Day and her wonderful singing voice and in the space of the next 5 years she would make 14 more movies including "Young Man with a Horn", "Tea for Two", "Young at Heart", "On Moonlight Bay" and it's sequel "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" plus of course one for Day's most popular movies "Calamity Jane". Many of these movies had a musical feel about them capitalizing on Day's ability to sing and dance whilst also playing on the fact she was adorable.

In 1955 Doris Day made only one movie "Love Me or Leave Me" but it is one of her best performances in the fictionalised account of legendary jazz singer Ruth Etting's troubled life to a Chicago criminal who controlled her life. In many ways this was a turning point in Doris Day's movie career as although she would once more venture into the musical arena with the brilliant "The Pajama Game" in 1957 she also ventured into more serious movies appearing in Hitchock's 1956 thriller "The Man Who Knew Too Much" alongside James Stewart.

Having done musicals and shown her capability as a dramatic actress what would follow would very much end up defining her career as she made a string of romantic comedies often built around similar ideas of being either a head strong career woman duped by a man or a house wife. The first of these was "Teacher's Pet" which she starred in alongside Clark Gable, just one of many tall, dark and handsome men to have shared the limelight with. Probably the most famous of these romantic comedies came in 1959 when she starred opposite Rock Hudson in "Pillow Talk" the first of there 3 movies they made together.

These romantic comedies basically continues till in 1968 Doris Day made her final movie "With Six You Get Eggroll" a movie many would say ironically finally played to who Doris Day was rather than what audiences had become accustomed to. Following her 20 year long movie career where she made an impressive 39 movies she went on to star in her own TV show "The Doris Day Show" which ran for 5 years from 1968-1973.

In 1976 she released her autobiography "Doris Day: Her Own Story" which with revelations about her personal life and troubled marriages was a surprise to many as it was completely opposite of her what the public perceived Doris Day's life to be.

As of Doris Day now, well to some people's surprise she is still alive and kicking having slipped away from the limelight actively works for the Doris Day Pet Foundation.

Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

In "Love Me or Leave Me" Doris Day stars as Ruth Etting in a fictionalized account of the jazz singers life. Having been discovered by Marty Snyder (James Cagney) a Chicago criminal, performing as a small time dancer Etting is transformed under his management. But away from the public eye Snyder would bully Ruth, controlling every aspect of her career and life to the point that they married.

During her career Doris Day made a few more dramatic movies and "Love Me or Leave Me" is the best. The reason being is the revelations which came out in her biography about her own unhappy marriages including that to Martin Melcher who controlled her life and career. It makes her performance in the movie all the more amazing because the looks of emotion which Doris delivers as Ruth is not so much acting but drawing on her own experience and it is this which lifts it to another level. And needless to say being a movie about a singer affords us the opportunity to listen to Day singing many wonderful songs including the touching "I'll Never Stop Loving You".

Pillow Talk (1959)

In the first of 3 movies which Doris Day and Rock Hudson starred in together Day plays Jan Morrow who unfortunately shares a party phone line with Brad Allen (Rock Hudson). Although she has never met Allen she dislikes him immensely as he hogs the phone line with calls from various women. Whilst out separately for dinner one night Brad over hears Jan in the next booth and as they only know each other by name decides to have some fun and pretends to be Rex Stetson so she can become another conquest. Except he didn't count on falling for Jan making his duplicity a major stumbling block.

Out of all the movies where Doris Day played a character duped by a man "Pillow Talk" is for me the best and that is down to the chemistry between Doris Day and Rock Hudson. All of which is a bit ironic seeing that later on it became know that Rock Hudson was homosexual and in a strange way gives many of the jokes in "Pillow Talk" a further level of comedy which wasn't apparent when released in 1959. But the partnership of Day and Hudson just works, better than any of Day's other collaborations with similar stars in similar movies.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)

During her career Doris Day only made one sequel that being "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" which was the sequel to "On Moonlight Bay" and in it we watch the Winfield household having another troubled time thanks to various moments of confusion over a letter. Plus Marjie (Doris Day) is again have romantic issues with her fiancée Bill (Gordon MacRae) who having returned from war is not quite as ready to be married as he was before hand.

Most people tend to prefer "On Moonlight Bay" over "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" purely because the sequel is for the most just a rehash of the first movie. But for me "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" is full of old fashioned charm with many delightful musical moments including a pleasant wintry final number on the frozen pond. But I also like it because quite simply Doris Day is absolutely adorable in the movie making her that perfect girl next door.

The Thrill of It All (1963)

Whilst her collaborations with Rock Hudson are some of her most popular movies Doris Day also made 2 movies with James Garner. In "The Thrill of It All" Doris Day plays Beverly Boyer the wife of Dr. Gerald Boyer (James Garner) who during a dinner party with the owners of "Happy Soap" tells them how she used their bar of soap to wash her children's hair. Before she knows it Beverly has become the new face of "Happy Soap" appearing on commercials, in magazines and on billboards much to the annoyance of Gerald who struggles with his wife's independence.

Whilst "Move Over, Darling" the second of their two movies was a bigger success I much prefer "The Thrill of It All" despite it being routine. In fact everything about it is routine from James Garner playing the tall, dark and handsome husband to Doris Day delivering copious amounts of comedy with her facial expressions. But it's a movie with some great scenes including the almost surreal pool scene with workman taking away truck loads of suds and the whole fakery of the advertising world adding to the mirth.

Calamity Jane (1953)

Out of all her Doris Day's movies "Calamity Jane" is probably the best known and the most popular as she leads us through a sort of western musical. In "Calamity Jane" Doris day plays Calamity who's tomboyish ways and often outrageous boasts often make her a bit of a joke amongst the men in Deadwood. When the owner of the town's saloon is desperate to find someone to perform, Calamity heads over to Chicago to bring back major star Adelaid Adams, except Calamity mistakes her maid Kate for the big star and returns with her instead. Well it soon becomes apparent that Kate is no Adelaid Adams but the two of them become friends as Kate teaches Calamity how to act like a lady in the hope of snagging the man she secretly loves.

From the opening which features Doris Day blasting out an unforgettable version of "The Deadwood Stage" right through to the end, "Calamity Jane" is just a brilliant musical full of big, memorable musical moments. But it's not all about the song and dance as "Calamity Jane" is full of comedy as well especially surrounding the tomboyish, boastful and a bit accident prone Calamity. And as such Doris Day is at her up most best in the title role delivering comedy, dance, song and even a touch of drama as she performs alongside the powerful Howard Keel amongst others. It's not just one of Doris Day's best movies but it is also a great musical with not a dull moment in sight.

Doris Day Filmography

  • With Six You Get Eggroll (1968)
  • Where Were You When the Lights Went Out? (1968)
  • Caprice (1967)
  • The Ballad of Josie (1967)
  • The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
  • Do Not Disturb (1965)
  • Send Me No Flowers (1964)
  • Move Over, Darling (1963)
  • The Thrill of It All (1963)
  • Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)(aka "Jumbo")
  • That Touch of Mink (1962)
  • Lover Come Back (1961)
  • Midnight Lace (1960)
  • Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)
  • Pillow Talk (1959)
  • It Happened to Jane (1959)
  • The Tunnel of Love (1958)
  • Teacher's Pet (1958)
  • The Pajama Game (1957)
  • Julie (1956)
  • The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
  • Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
  • Young at Heart (1954)
  • Lucky Me (1954)
  • Calamity Jane (1953)
  • By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)
  • April in Paris (1952)
  • The Winning Team (1952)
  • I'll See You in My Dreams (1951)
  • On Moonlight Bay (1951)
  • Lullaby of Broadway (1951)
  • Storm Warning (1951)
  • Starlift (1951)
  • Fine and Dandy (1950)(aka "The West Point Story")
  • Tea for Two (1950)
  • Young Man of Music (1950)(aka "Young Man with a Horn")
  • It's a Great Feeling (1949)
  • My Dream Is Yours (1949)
  • It's Magic (1948)(aka "Romance on the High Seas")

More Info

For more information on Doris Day Movies please check out The Movie Scene


For a look at one of the numerous books on the life of Doris Day please click here.

Doris Day Books


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    • 6hotfingers3 profile image


      8 years ago

      Thorough Hub on Doris Day. It took me back to my youth. I remember looking at Doris Day on tele and in films. She always looked so happy. I admired her a lot. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. Keep up the good work


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