Calamity Jane 1953
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Calamity Jane (DVD)
Doris Day and Howard Keel star as "Calamity" Jane and "Wild Bill" Hickock in this lighthearted musical based on the lives of two real celebrities of the American West. Calamity Jane is a the roughest, toughest gal in the town of Deadwood. And only Wild Bill Hickock is man enough to discover the lady underneath the tough talk and gun belts. Winner of an Academy Award for Best Original Song "Secret Love."]]>
- Premiere and awards newsreels
- Theatrical trailer
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The real Calamity Jane lived in Deadwood (for a while), had a crush on Bill Hickok (never reciprocated), and was a kind-hearted person who helped those down on their luck. That's it. The rest is at best distortion, at worst fabrication.
But what fabrication. This fluff ball is so agreeably energetic, with plenty of sharp, appealing songs (and one standard), that you can only hope the real Calamity Jane (portrayed as a sad-and-sorry alcoholic in "Deadwood") was half as much fun. The part is ideal for the tomboyish Doris Day, whose energy doesn't flag for a moment. David Butler's direction moves at an amazing clip, keeping a plot-heavy story from sinking.
The film's "gayness" has often been commented on. Whether by accident or design, there's gender confusion, cross-dressing, and the ever-popular crypto-lesbian subtext. (Given the real Jane's mannish dress and demeanor, the latter is pretty much a given.)
With respect to mannishness... Howard Keel looks nothing at all like Hickok, who was much better-looking. Though shoulder-length hair had long been common among frontiersmen (qv G A Custer), the almost-certainly hetero Hickok was considered by contemporaries to be somewhat epicene in appearance and manner. One can only imagine how Warners executives would have reacted if Keel had insisted on historically accurate makeup. "I Can Do without You" would have taken on unintended meaning. (Google "Hickok epicene" for a surprisingly thorough discussion.)
The transfer appears to be from an IB projection print. (Misregistration is visible in a few scenes.) Color is rich and saturated. The sound, though not stereo, is excellent. Most of the songs sound as if they were recorded in a studio with a reverb time similar to that of the set, making it appear that Day and Keel are singing "live".
"Calamity Jane" shows the studio system at its peak, turning out lightweight but well-crafted entertainment, tailored to show off stars at their best. What's not to love?
Doris Day and Howard Keel fuss, feud and fall in love as Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok in this entertainment mother lode. There are wide-open Technicolor Western spaces, lots of high-stepping dances and a hummable humdinger of a score by Academy Award® winning songwriters Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, who took their first Oscar® for the classic ballad and the 1950s megahit "Secret Love."
FILM FACT: It won the Academy Award® for Best Original Song "Secret Love" for Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster and was also Nominated for Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound, Recording for William A. Mueller. Nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture for Ray Heindorf.
Cast: Doris Day, Howard Keel, Allyn Ann McLerie, Philip Carey, Dick Wesson, Paul Harvey, Chubby Johnson, Gale Robbins, Francis McDonald, Monte Montague and Bess Flowers
Director: David Butler
Producer: William Jacobs
Screenplay: James O'Hanlon
Composers: David Buttolph and Howard Jackson
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English: 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono, French: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish [Castilian]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono, Spanish [Latin]: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono and Portuguese: 1.0 Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish [Castilian], Spanish [Latin] and Portuguese
Running Time: 101 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Warner Home Video
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: Doris Day looks to me like the real Calamity Jane and this 1953 film is intended as a light-hearted musical, not a historical tract. As portrayed by the freckled Doris Day, as Calamity Jane is a rootin', tootin' shootin' in the western town of Deadwood. When she isn't tearing up the town, Calamity Jane spends her time cussing out Wild Bill Hickok [Howard Keel]. It was an excellent vehicle to launch Miss Doris Day's career into the stratosphere, for it catapulted her to new heights among the greatest of stars. She performed with such gusto, that one film critic noted, "by picture's end, she is within hailing distance of Ginger Rogers and Judy Garland." But in the opinion of this reviewer, Doris Day not only caught up with them, this girl with spirit, passed them both.
The opening sequence of this wonderful musical is pure pleasure, as Doris Day rides the Deadwood stage across the screen and into our hearts. This isn't the real Wild West, of course, but Warner Bros. Technicolor riposte to M-G-M's ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ and the studio even poached the same leading man, handsome Howard Keel, excellent here as Wild Bill Hickock. The specially commissioned score is a treat, but the strength of the movie is Day giving a marvellous musical comedy performance in her finest role, creating a warm, robust yet tender character; just marvel at her timing in “Just Blew In from the Windy City,” while “Secret Love” was recorded by Doris Day in just one take, won the best song Oscar and is beautifully staged by choreographer Jack Donohue and is a true delight that repays many viewings with great dividends.
‘Calamity Jane’ centres around her effort to save Henry Miller's theatre/saloon from ruin by bringing the much admired, beautiful singing star, Adelaide Adams, to perform in Deadwood's premiere entertainment venue, The Golden Garter. Calamity jane promises the patrons of The Golden Garter that she will personally bring Miss Adelaide Adams back from Chicago to South Dakota. In Chicago, she sees Adelaide Adam's show, from the back of the theatre, but later mistakes Miss Adams' stage struck maid, Katie Brown [Allyn McLerie], for the star. Katie Brown, realising the mistake, seizes the opportunity to make her dreams come true by posing as Adelaide Adams in the rustic no-man's land territory of Deadwood, which has only a small cigarette picture of the singer to compare. After all, she did look similar to Miss Adelaide Adams and she fooled Calamity Jane!
After crossing dangerous terrain, with Indians in hot pursuit, the two arrive in Deadwood, unscathed, to tremendous fanfare. The men of Deadwood are delighted that Calamity Jane has kept 'her word' and brought the great Adelaide to perform for them. Especially pleased are Lt. Danny Gillmartin [Philip Carey] and Bill Hickock [Howard Keel], who immediately take a liking to 'Miss Adams'. To Katie's surprise, there is someone in Deadwood who does recognise her. Francis Fryer [Dick Wesson], another entertainer from Chicago, who knows that Katie is not Adelaide Adams, but her maid. He does not, however, reveal this knowledge for fear of repercussions against Henry Miller [Paul Harvey].
On her opening night, Katie is exceedingly nervous, and adding to her trepidation, Francis wishes her good luck by saying, "Give 'em all you've got, Katie". The fact that he knows her real identity exacerbates her fear and she goes onstage and gives a disastrous performance. A disappointed audience boos her after she confesses to the crowd that she has deceived them and is not Adelaide Adams. A shocked Calamity comes to her rescue, imploring the angry crowd to give Katie a chance. Surprisingly, they agree to let her sing. With renewed confidence, Katie delivers a great show and Deadwood now has its own 'Adelaide Adams.’
The rest of the cast is sterling. Philip Carey was unsympathetic as Danny Gillmartin, Paul Harvey was fun as Henry Miller, as was Chubby Johnson (the 'Gabby Hayes' of the film), 'Rattlesnake'. Gale Robbins was pretty and performed well "It's Harry I'm Plannin' to Marry" as Adelaide Adams. There were some very familiar faces in the crowd at The Golden Garter. Many of the extras were veteran western film performers we've seen in thousands of cowboys and Indians movies. Obviously, director, David Butler knew what he had here, a marvellous script, memorable score, a talented cast and two stars to make this a film for the ages.
When director David Butler announced he was ready to shoot the scene, Doris, wearing a yellow dress crated by famed fashion designer, Howard Shoup, stepped into the trough of mud with all the pleasant anticipation she might display at dipping into a perfumed bubble bath. “It’s wonderfully warm, though a bit lumpy,” declared the star. The director, however, still was not satisfied so he spread more mud on Doris Day, who was still enjoying every minute of this supposed ordeal.
The wonderful Doris Day was perfectly cast as hot-headed Calamity Jane; she injects such life into the role and takes us through some of the most memorable high-stepping dances and hum-able tunes of any musical. We meet many more unforgettable characters along the way and are kept smiling by the invigorating spirit of the actors and the beauty of the cinematography and of the glorious Technicolor masterpiece, that makes you feel you wish you was there enjoying the delights of Deadwood the real Wild West.
Blu-ray Video Quality – ‘Calamity Jane’ has been remastered by Warner Bros on-site facility, and has produced a stunning 1080p encoded Blu-ray, which features a rock-solid, fully resolved and detailed image. Colours are exceptionally vibrant and bright; the transformation wrought on Calamity Jane's dusty wreck of a cabin during "A Woman's Touch" is particularly striking. Even in the obvious day-for-night sequences, detail remains impressive. The grain pattern is fine and film-like without any trace of artificial sharpening. So overall, this is now far superior 1080p image over the inferior original NTSC DVD release.
Blu-ray Audio Quality – The film's original mono soundtrack has been encoded with a 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono and it sounds really good and is even more clean, clear, free of noise and distortion, with both dialogue and lyrics easily intelligible from a previous video release. The orchestra is a much improved presence, even though it is in the 1.0 DTS-HD Master Audio Mono and has a dynamic range that one would experience with either in a stereo or a multi-channel recording, but neither does it sound too thin and tinny. For the era, this is a fine reproduction and again is far superior to what the sound was with the inferior original NTSC DVD release.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Warner Bros. B/W Short: So You Love Your Dog  [480i] [4:3] [10:30] Funny Joe McDoakes short has him in World War II with his "trusting" dog Dusty who is actually a worthless beast. Each time Joe gives him a paper message to give to his base the dog instead gives it to the enemy. After the war and back at home Joe McDoakes brings Dusty to live with him and sure enough poor McDoakes is too stupid to see all the bad things the dog is doing. If you're familiar with George O'Hanlon series then you know what to expect. This here isn't one of the best shorts in the series but there are enough big laughs to make it worth sitting through. This one here is actually fairly different from others in the series as it goes for a different type of gag as the dog itself is almost human and doing things that a dog typically wouldn't do. One of the best scenes has Dusty bringing back homeless men to sleep on the couch and another terrific scene has the dog selling Joe's location to the German army. As you'd expect George O'Hanlon fits the role of Joe McDoakes to perfection and the dog too actually gives a pretty funny performance. If you're unfamiliar with this series then this here is a good place to start. Cast (in credits order) George O'Hanlon, Mel Blanc (Dusty dog voice) (uncredited), Phyllis Coates (uncredited), Creighton Hale (uncredited), Frank Marlowe (uncredited), Richard Reeves (uncredited) and Otto Reichow (uncredited). Director: Richard L. Bare.
Warner Bros. Cartoon: Duck Dodgers in the 24 ½ Century  [480i] [4:3] [7:04] The plot of the cartoon involves Duck Dodgers (Daffy) in his search for the rare element Illudium Phosdex, "the shaving cream atom." In the future, the only remaining supply of the element is on the mysterious "Planet X". After Dodgers plots an enormously complicated course to Planet X by way of rocket, his assistant, the "Eager Young Space Cadet" (Porky) points out that they can simply follow a path of planets bearing the letters of the alphabet; leading from Planet A, through Planets B, C, D, and so on (each planet features a single landmass in the shape of the letter itself). Duck Dodgers takes credit for this idea and the two soon arrive on the planet. Duck Dodgers finally snaps and deploys his "secret weapon" in attempt to destroy Marvin, not knowing Marvin is preparing to do the same with one of his own. Both fire their weapons at the same time, resulting in Planet X being destroyed. The cartoon ends with Duck Dodgers dramatically claiming the last remaining chunk of the planet for Earth, while Marvin and the Cadet hang helplessly from a root below, the latter delivering the final punchline (relating to Dodgers' Pyrrhic victory), "Eh, b-b-b-b-big deal." The cartoon was directed by Chuck Jones (credited as Charles M. Jones), with the story by Michael Maltese, voices by Mel Blanc, and original music by Carl Stalling. The animation was credited to Lloyd Vaughan, Ken Harris and Ben Washam, with Harry Love receiving a credit for effects animation. The distinctive layouts were designed by Maurice Noble and the backgrounds produced by Phil DeGuard. In 1994, it was voted No.4 of the 50 Greatest Cartoons of all time by members of the animation field. In 2004, it was retrospectively nominated for a Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
Warner Pathe Newsreel: Western Style Premiere For ‘Calamity Jane’  [480i] [4:3] [00:44] A newsreel clip of Calamity Jane's premiere in Rapid City, South Dakota. I am sure there must have been more film available, as I feel it is far too short.
Warner Pathe Newsreel: Photoplay Magazine Film Awards  [480i] [4:3] [00:55] In the days before awards show broadcasts, they had newsreels, but sadly this is very short and some footage must have been lost in the archives.
Theatrical Trailer  [480i] [4:3] [3:00] This is the original trailer for ‘Calamity Jane,’ where they tell us at the end, the tell us, “She’s Rootin’ – Tootin’ Sure As Shootin’!
Finally, ‘Calamity Jane’ is awash with delightful and lively songs including the Oscar winning “Secret Love” and my personal favourite ‘Whip-Crack-Away.’ This is a place where people fall in and out of love in the blink of an eye, where friendships are made, broken, and remade. This is a place where good triumphs over evil and happily ever after does exist. This is a brilliant film that is full of magic and wonder! So suspend reality for a while and enjoy the ride as this rootin’ tootin’ Doris Day tomboy takes you on a journey you’ll never forget. Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom
We enjoyed this movie as it shows her talent in portraying a totally different character than you might be used to seeing her do. Have watched it a few times and have chosen it for movie nights with friends. My son has declared it his favorite of her films.