The Doris Day Collection, Vol. 2: (Romance on the High Seas / My Dream Is Yours / On Moonlight Bay / I'll See You in My Dreams / By the Light of the Silvery Moon / Lucky Me)\
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Doris Day Collection Vol. 2 (DVD)
Doris Day, America's sweetheart of the '40s, '50s and '60s, returns to DVD on April 10 with six more new to DVD titles as Warner Home Video releases The Doris Day Collection Volume 2, following the success of 2005's first collection. Volume 2 features six more new-to-DVD titles, focusing on Miss Day's golden years at Warner Bros., where her film career began. The collection contains her blockbuster screen debut Romance on the High Seas, as well as such audience favorites as My Dream is Yours, I'll See You in my Dreams, On Moonlight Bay, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Lucky Me - films which contain a treasure chest of musical standards that include "It Had to be You," "Makin' Whoopee," "I'll String Along With You," "'Ain't we Got Fun" and dozens more.]]>
Doris Day fans will be dizzy with pleasure over The Doris Day Collection, Volume 2. This package of six Warner Bros. films covers the early phase of Day's movie career, including her debut picture, and is actually better and more of-a-piece than Warners' previous Day set. The box doesn't include anything from the later Rock Hudson stage of her career: This is the former Doris von Kappelhoff in full youthful sparkle, with her tomboyish attitude and freckled perkiness (and skillful singing, which is showcased in each film).
Her 1948 debut, Romance on the High Seas, actually presents Day in a different light from her subsequent well-scrubbed image. (Maybe this is what co-star Oscar Levant meant when he later quipped, "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin.") She's a sassy, hep-talking band singer, drawn into an unlikely (and extremely silly) plot involving confused identity during a South American cruise. Michael Curtiz might not be a comedy director, but the script is fun and there's no mistaking the spectacle of a star being born.
The follow-up, My Dream Is Yours, returns Curtiz and leading man Jack Carson in a tale that has some parallels to Day's real life: she's a singer with a young child, looking for her breakthrough. The movie's a serviceable but humdrum backstage story with great vintage locations, and Bugs Bunny appears in a surreal dream sequence. The Technicolor shines here, as it does through much of the set; the only black-and-white film is I'll See You in My Dreams, an enjoyably low-key biopic of lyricist Gus Kahn (Danny Thomas), who wrote so many of the signature tunes of the 1920s. A great score ("Makin' Whoopee," "It Had to Be You") help this one past the conventions of the composer biopic; Doris plays Kahn's alpha-female wife.
Day's rising popularity was confirmed with the success of On Moonlight Bay and By the Light of the Silvery Moon, a pair of old-timey musicals based on Booth Tarkington's "Penrod" stories. Nostalgia for the WWI era runs high in these sugary confections, with Doris paired with Gordon MacRae and a batch of vintage tunes. The strong ensemble and the backlot re-creation of a bygone era are almost impossible to resist.
By her own account, Day was exhausted by her Warners contract at the time of Lucky Me, the latest film (1955) in this set. The lame showbiz story indicates as much, with Doris stranded in Miami and coming to the attention of composer Bob Cummings. The widescreen CinemaScope process gives some oomph to the musical numbers, and if Day herself was exhausted it doesn't show; America's sweetheart never failed to turn on the high beams, and it's easy to see why the moviegoing public needed her to twinkle. --Robert Horton
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ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948)--Doris' feature film debut is in eye-blinding Technicolor and set on a Caribbean cruise with mistaken identity. Georgia Garrett (Doris) poses as Mrs. Elvira Kent on the ship, while the real Elvira (Janis Paige) stays home to spy on her maybe philandering husband. Georgia is wooed by Jack Carson, while Mr. Kent (Don DeFore) hires someone to spy on the real Elvira, who is presumably on the same ship but isn't. Oscar Levant is wonderful. Michael Curtiz directed a witty script by the Epstein Brothers and I.A.L. Diamond. Cameos include Franklin Pangborn and Grady Sutton. Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn songs include the classic "It's Magic". It must have been a hit even in 1948 because it is sung three times. This is an absolutely wonderful movie. Bonuses include a theatrical trailer, a musical short, and a Tweety & Sylvester short.
MY DREAM IS YOURS (1949)--Michael Curtiz directs again and Jack Carson (Doug Blake) again is the romantic male lead for Doris as singer Martha Gibson. When arrogant singing star Lee Bowman acts like a prima donna one too many times, Doug fires him and becomes agent to Martha, who becomes a popular and likeable radio singer. Wonderful supporting cast of pros includes S. Z. Sakall, Eve Arden, and Adolphe Menjou, with cameos by Franklin Pangborn, Edgar Kennedy, and Bugs Bunny! Harry Warren and Sammy Cahn songs include "My Dream is Yours" and "Someone Like You." This is another brilliant Technicolor production. Bonuses include an Oscar-nominated drama short, a Joe McDoakes comedy short, a classic cartoon, and a theatrical trailer.
I'LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS (1952) caught me off-guard because it is one of Doris Day's few B&W movies. Still, it is photographed by Ted McCord, whose credits range from TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE (1948) to THE SOUND OF MUSIC (1965). We have Danny Thomas as song writer Gus Kahn, who apparently wrote the lyrics to literally hundreds of popular songs in the first few decades of the 20th Century, several dozen with girl friend turned wife Grace (Doris). Among the Kahn favorites are the title song, "I Wish I Had a Girl," "Love Me or Leave Me" (which Doris would again sing in the 1955 biographical musical drama), "Makin' Whoopee," "Pretty Baby," and "It Had to Be You." It's an engrossing and tuneful biography, again directed by Michael Curtiz. The two stars are well matched. DVD bonuses include an unusually insightful drama short called "The Screen Director", a hilarious Foghorn Leghorn cartoon, and the theatrical trailer.
ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951) and its sequel, BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (1952), are Technicolor gems about small town Indiana life on either side of World War One. They are inspired by the "Penrod" stories of Booth Tarkington. Doris Day and a very young Gordon MacRae star as a romantic couple; he spends two movies trying to decide if he wants to get married, which is wild because (1) Doris is a real sweetheart of a person even as a "grease monkey" and tomboy, and (2) he proposes and kisses her passionately in the street at the end of BAY. Leon Ames plays her father, virtually the same role he played in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS (1944); Rosemary DeCamp from YANKEE DOODLE DANDY (1942) is Mom; Billy Gray is Day's pesty kid brother; and Mary Wickes is the cook who never met a tray of food she liked. The color is drop dead gorgeous; the directors are, respectively, Roy Del Ruth and David Butler, very competent craftsman filmmakers. Songs in BAY include "Cuddle Up a Little Closer," "It's a Long Way to Tipperary" and "Pack Up Your Troubles." and the title song as the film's finale. Full-fledged musical numbers in SILVERY MOON include "Ain't We Got Fun," "King Chanticleer", and the title song with ice skates on Miller's Pond. Bonuses with BAY are a vintage sing-a-long short, a Technicolor cartoon, and the theatrical trailer. SILVERY MOON bonuses include two wonderful Joe McDoakes comedy shorts, an Oscar-nominated cartoon, and the theatrical trailer.
One of Doris Day's first films in CinemaScope, LUCKY ME (1955) has her as a superstitious woman named Candy Williams. The unluckiest day of Candy's life turns out to be the luckiest through twists of fate. Also starring with Miss Day are Robert Cummings, Phil Silvers, Eddie Foy Jr. and Nancy Walker. Bright musical numbers include "High Hopes," "I Speak to the Stars," "I Wanna Sing Like an Angel," and half a dozen more. It's a very cheerful and colorful Technicolor and wide-screen concoction with a remastered soundtrack. Bonuses include the nostalgic short "When the Talkies Were Young", an Oscar-nominated cartoon, and the theatrical trailer.
There is also a Volume One, of course. It includes such wonderful Doris Day musical classics as THE PAJAMA GAME, CALAMITY JANE, LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME, BILLY ROSE'S JUMBO, PLEASE DON"T EAT THE DAISIES, and three more slightly lesser Day movies. If you like the Doris Day movies in Volume Two, do check out Volume One.
Included in this collection is Day's screen debut, 1948's "Romance on the High Seas". It's a gorgeous technicolor treat - a throwback to an era when movies were designed to entertain and it succeeds gloriously. Miss Day introduces the classic song, "It's Magic" and while not first-billed, steals the show from Jack Carson (the first of three successive teamings), Janis Paige, S.Z. Sakall and a great cast. It's a case of mistaken identity, but what is most memorable is the ease with which Miss Day seems to acquit herself on film. She's a natural - funny, real, and gorgeous. There's a bit of the late Betty Hutton in her performance but ultimately she proves herself to be one of a kind.
The rest of the titles each have their high points. "My Dream is Yours" has lots of grit in this variation of "A Star is Born" with Day's star rising and for good reason. My favorite song is her heartfelt rendition of "I'll String Along With You" - flawless. Other highlights include a sequence in which she and Carson team with Bugs Bunny.
"I'll See You in My Dreams" is the wonderful bio of lyricist Gus Kahn and contains a trunkload of classic tunes sung perfectly by Day, co-star Danny Thomas and Patrice Wymore in a knockout performance. It has much more grit than the typical biography and Miss Day is exceptionally good as Kahn's wife Grace. Michael Curtiz has directed the film in black and white which seems to make it more serious than many films of this mileau.
"On Moonlight Bay" (1951) and it's sequel 1953's "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" are like a couple of Currier and Ives pictures brought to life. Warm-hearted and filled with a score of great tunes, they lovingly capture an era that might have been or at least was in memory. Miss Day, co-star Gordon MacRae and "family" - Leon Ames, Rosemary DeCamp, Billy Gray and Mary Wickes, seem like a family. Loosely based on Tarkington's "Penrod" tales, it had critics carping that it wasn't "Meet Me In St. Louis" and it isn't. On its own terms it is just as delightful filled with charm and genuine warmth, never forced and never trite.
The weakest link in the collection is probably "Lucky Me", the first technicolor musical and subject to critical pans at the time of its release.
Miss Day and a fine supporting cast including Bob Cummings, Nancy Walker, Phil Silvers, Eddie Foy Jr and Martha Hyer, give it their all. The songs may not be memorable but they are energetically rendered and there are enough chuckles sprinkled throughout to keep the film going.
One will come away from this 12 hour marathon of Doris Day films feeling extremely good, exhilirated in fact, and possibly wishing that Hollywood still made the kind of feel-good movie that Doris specialized in during her 7 years at Warners. Feeling that way in this day and age is something not to be scoffed at. If someone could bottle that indefinable quality that Doris Day possesses and share it with the world, we'd all benefit.