The Doris Day Collection – TCM Spotlight (It’s A
Great Feeling/Tea For Two/Starlift/April In Paris/Tunnel Of
Love/Warner Home Video DVD)
C+ Sound: C Extras: C Films: C+
difference Doris Day makes!
she left while she was still on top, Doris Day was a singer with hit records,
actress with hit movies and even had a hit TV series in her name. Her appeal was deceptively simple as a woman
with more substance the more you got to know her. Though her best film is atypical of her
output (Alfred Hitchcock’s remake of his own hit, The Man Who Knew Too Much), most were comedies and many were also
Musicals. Warner has issued a new,
comprehensive box set of her early films rightly called The Doris Day Collection.
five film, including her early success at Warner before moving on to MGM, we
see her in her early glory and also see and understand both her appeal and how
smart Warner was (also owning a record company at the time) to have her and
show off her talent in classy ways that worked.
The more you watch, the more you get it.
talented, interesting journeyman director David Butler directed the main color
Musical films here (It’s A Great Feeling/Tea For Two/April In Paris), Roy Del Ruth did the patriotic military comedy (Starlift) where Day is among those
playing themselves and Gene Kelly directed the CinemaScope comedy/drama (Tunnel Of Love) that was an unusual
project for all but a definite production of the early scope era.
It’s A Great Feeling (1949) co-stars Dennis Morgan and
Jack Carson, backed up by a great star-filled supporting cast (many cameos)
including Joan Crawford, Gary Cooper, Patricia Neal, Errol Flynn, Sydney
Greenstreet, Eleanor Parker, Edward G. Robinson, the debut of the great
character actress Nita Talbot, Jane Wyman and Ronald Reagan in what we might
call a bandwagon movie (not to be confused with the MGM Musical of the same
name) in which the studio goes all out (Warner here) about a waitress (Day) who
wants to sing her way to the top. If only
someone would give her the chance. Shows
what a big major Warner was pulling out all the stops in this entertaining
Tea For Two (1950) co-stars Gordon MacRae,
Gene Nelson and the always fun Eve Arden in this film inspired by No,
No Nanette as Day says “no” to “everything” MacRae asks, except
drinking tea and singing. They sing many
classic Showtunes and Warner catalog favorites, including I Only Have Eyes For You and the title song. It is with some irony that these musical and
the Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies cartoons are what kept these classics alive
past their time.
Starlift (1951) is shot in black and white
and could be called a Musical propaganda film, pushing patriotism in the wake
of this country’s WWII success, but to the credit of the actual Warner Bros.,
they always made films like this and includes a big cast Warner actors playing
themselves. Gordon MacRae, Virginia
Mayo, Gene Nelson, Ruth Roman, Gary Cooper, James Cagney and Randolph Scott
among others are here. Even when the
film is not good, the cavalcade of all of Warner’s big stars is worth seeing.
April In Paris (1952) is the third of the
Technicolor musicals here pairs day with the great Ray Bolger in the least
dated film in the set. Day is a chorus
girl trying to make it to the top and accidentally becomes a goodwill
ambassador to France! Well, she goes
there and official Bolger is with her.
They make a surprisingly fun team and he steals some scenes, of course,
but Warner was upping the ante and it worked.
Tunnel Of Love (1958) is a black and white
CinemaScope comedy about a married couple (Day and Richard Widmark) who cannot
seem to conceive a child, so they go to the “Rock-A-Bye-Baby” adoption agency
and find it is more difficult than they expected. With many themes that are common today,
Director Gene Kelly was trying something different and more mature, which Day
needed after her Hitchcock turn and the results are always interesting. Gig Young also stars.
X 1 image on all the films except Tunnel
(anamorphically enhanced 2.35 X 1 monochrome image) are on par with each
other. The color usually looks really
good on the musicals, while the black and white on the remaining films is
accurate on the Grey Scale level. Turner
entertainment took care of these films and these seem like new prints in all
cases with little new work needed. The
Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono on all films show their age and are a bit weak, with the
older films about on par with the last, Tunnel. Oddly, Tunnel
was a Perspecta Sound film which offered artificial stereo and a 4-track stereo
version exists somewhere, but Warner (from MGM’s original vaults) could not
find that mix. Hope they do for Blu-ray.
include a cartoon and trailer on all five DVDs, Feeling adds a Blooper Reel dubbed Breakdown of 1949 and live
action sports short, Tea adds a Joe
McDoakes live action comedy short and two radio version of No, No Nanette and Starlift adds a Joe McDoakes live
action comedy short and live action sports short. That makes this Doris Day Collection live up to its name and worth seeing once for
any serious film fan.
- Nicholas Sheffo