Turner Classic Movies has been running 28 of her films to great acclaim. In addition, there is a new release of four of her memorable films on DVD, there's a new CD out that she participated on by selecting the 30 song choices, and newspapers and bloggers are celebrating her amazing achievements. It is more than deserved.
For decades there have been naysayers who have dismissed Doris Day, stating that "all she ever played was an over the hill virgin in film after film". Fortunately, TCM has selected a wide-range of titles that show Miss Day's enormous versatility and range as a musical performer, comic actress and a dramatic leading lady of genuine skill and talent.
It bears repeating that today we don't have "Stars" who can sing, dance and act. We also don't have performers who have appeared in musicals, biographies, film versions of Broadway hits, westerns, dramas, suspense thrillers, spy films, domestic comedies, slapstick comedies and sophisticated comedies. Even more notable is the fact that while doing all of this, Doris Day turned out an impressive catalog of song hits, recording well over 700 songs during her career.
While I selfishly wish TCM had also scheduled "Calamity Jane", Hitchcock's "The Man Who Knew Too Much", "the Pajama Game" and "Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?", a seldom seen title, I applaud the titles they are showing.
We get to see the drop dead gorgeous Doris in some of those magical Technicolor musicals from the 40's and early 50's. We get to see Doris and Rock, Doris and Cary, Doris and Jim Garner, Doris and Jack Lemmon and Doris and Rod Taylor to name but a few of the leading men in those very funny comedies. We also get to see Doris playing a mom and showing an on-screen ease with children that is disarming in "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" among others. No other leading female star from the 50's and 60's displayed such a natural ability to make you believe she was the mother to her screen brood like Doris could.
In a suspense thriller like "Midnight Lace", Miss Day doesn't resort to "tricks" to show her dramatic chops. It's all real and believable and you come away shaken by it.
Of course "Love Me or Leave Me" is a triumph by any standard and I still fondly recall seeing this film for the first time on the big screen. It was 1992 and the fabled Vagabond Theatre in Los Angeles revived this MGM smash.
I attended the film with Sydney Guilaroff, who had designed Miss Day's hair for the film. Sydney hadn't seen the movie since it's 1955 opening.
The 84 year old Hollywood legend watched the film with tears in his eyes. Several times he turned to me and exclaimed, "what a masterpiece. I'd forgotten how brilliant the film and Doris was".
When the end credits rolled, the capacity house burst into long and sustained applause.
Later than evening Sydney and Doris talked for over an hour about their memories of the film and working together many times at MGM.
"You should not only have been nominated for an Oscar for the picture, you should have won", exclaimed Sydney during the talk.
"That's okay. The real reward was working with wonderful people like you and Jimmy (Cagney) and knowing we'd done something special", replied Doris - meaning every word.
Somehow it seems appropriate as we mark Doris Day's birthday to also wish Mike DeVita a Happy Birthday. The forever young Mike, like Doris, will never truly grow old because he has an attitude of making every day special and unique. It really feels right that he and Doris share the same astrological sign because they are both to be treasured. Happy Birthday Doris and Mike!!!