The Doris Day Collection on DVD
Doris Day was one of the greatest screen stars ever, and this
eight disc collection is a wonderful showcase of her talents. And, far from
being the virginal star for which she has somehow become known, the set shows
clearly that she could do it all: sing, dance, dramatic acting, you name it -
and she was darn sexy, too.
Love Me or Leave Me, for example, is a 1955 biopic about
1920s singer Ruth Ettig in which Day displays all of the abovementioned
talents, in a gritty and adult story that belies the virginal image. Day, as
Ettig, is outstanding as the singer whose life was propelled, indeed
controlled, by small time hood Marty The Gimp Snyder (James Cagney,
who is also excellent). And "Please Dont Eat The Daisies sees her
flexing her skillls as a devoted housewife trying to keep family and marriage
together while her husband (David Niven) commences a high profile career as a
New York drama critic.
Day plays totally different characters in both of these films, yet
is totally convincing in each role.
But thats only two great titles in this boxed set that not
only features the eight films, but also includes abundant extras. It really is
a fitting tribute to this great star and a wonderful introduction to her for
those who may not have had a chance to learn just how talented she was.
Heres a listing of the films, with short descriptions as
they appear on the DVD boxes, followed by our comments:
Young Man with a Horn (1949)
With a second-hand trumpet
and the loving guidance of a brilliant bluesman, a lonely boy grows into
manhood as a superb musician whose talent carries him from honky-tonks to posh
supper clubs. But his desperate search for the elusive high note, trapped in
his mind but impossible to play, starts him on a boozy downward slide. Charged
with dynamic performances by Kirk Douglas (the title role), Doris Day, Lauren
Bacall and Hoagy Carmichael and pitch-perfect direction by Michael Curtiz, the
film is a feast of hot, cool, moody jazz. Legendary Harry James dubbed Douglas'
The DVD is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, so
owners of 16x9 TVs that may be prone to burn in (CRT or plasma-based
TVs) will want to stretch/zoom them to fit the rectangular screen. The
black and white picture quality is very good, however, with nice, sharp edges
and good contrast. Theres some grain, but overall its pretty good.
Audio, of course, is Dolby Digital mono and its pretty good considering
the source material.
The only extra on this disc is a Doris Day trailer gallery, and
it only includes the trailer for this film and for Storm Warning, a drama that
exposes the Ku Kux Klan and in which Day co stars with Ginger Rogers and Ronald
Reagan. It looks like another dandy, though you barely see Day in the
Lullaby of Broadway (1950)
The steps of the studio set
towered before her like a pyramid. All Doris Day had to do was dance up and
down those steps wearing a flowing gold lame dress. Youve got to be
out of your minds, Day exclaimed in a voice heard across the soundstage.
I cant even walk up and down those stairs.
She danced divinely and sang in this musical
delight about a singer newly arrived in New York and destined for Great
White Way fame in the capable company of co-stars Gene Nelson, S.Z. Sakall,
Billy De Wolfe, Gladys George and Florence Bates. Savor the Oscar-winning title
tune, Cole Porters Just One of Those Things, Somebody Loves Me and six
more swell songs. Cmon along and listen to (and watch) this Lullaby of
This flick is also presented in its original full frame (1.33:1)
aspect ratio, so the above caveat applies for people with TVs that could
be affected. The color picture is very good, however, nice and sharp and bright
and colorful. Audio is Dolby Digital mono and its fine.
Extras include a Day trailer gallery that, this time, features
trailers from this movie and five others.
Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
The biopic mentioned above.
Laced with Doris Day's vibrant performances of songs from
the era, this 1955 Academy Award winner (Best Motion Picture Story) is based on
the tough-minded tale of Etting's life with the man who boosted her career with
strong-arm tactics yet smothered her in an obsessive grip she escaped at great
peril. As Snyder, James Cagney earned one of the film's six Oscar nominations.
Ms. Day's Etting was a career-best dramatic performance, bringing acclaim from
critics and protest letters from fans unprepared for the departure from her
traditionally sunny roles.
This is an excellent film. Day is at her best, showcasing her
talent and the sexiness some people seem to forget she had.
The DVD features a nice crisp print in the films original
anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The color picture quality is very
good. The soundtrack has been remastered into Dolby Digital 5.1, though you
dont get a lot of surround. What you do get is a nice three channel
soundfield across the front of your home theater, and thats just fine
Extras include three vintage shorts, the first two featuring the
real Ruth Etting. You also get the theatrical trailer.
Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)
Jumbo is a mighty talented
elephant. Its also the ideal word to describe this big-time, big-top
extravaganza bursting with laughter and love, song and dance, circus stunts and
Radiant Doris Day sings beloved Rodgers and Hart tunes and does
her own horseback riding tricks in this razzle-dazzle musical based on Billy
Rose's stage spectacular and featuring circus sequences directed by Busby
Berkeley. The story revolves around a circus owner (Jimmy Durante, star of the
1935 Broadway original) with only two real attractions: his daughter (Day) and
popular pachyderm Jumbo. Three-ring pandemonium breaks out when a handsome
rival (Stephen Boyd) infiltrates the circus, and father, daughter and Dad's
wisecracking fiancée (Martha Raye) are suddenly at risk of losing the
greatest show on earth.
The DVDs features include a soundtrack remastered into Dolby
Digital 5.1, and it sounds pretty good. The picture is featured in anamorphic
widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and it is sharp and colorful.
Extras include the musical short Yours Sincerely, a Tom and Jerry
cartoon (Jerry and Jumbo), and the original overture restored to the film for
the first time in more than 40 years.
Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1959)
Kate Mackay (Doris
Day) has four boys who someday may lend their names to hurricanes. A
monstrosity of a country fixer-upper that needs its lower fixed too. And a
poison-pen, drama-critic hubby (David Niven) who sees plays under the worst
possible circumstances by being in the audience.
Kate hangs in through thick and thicker in this jovial comedy from
the bestseller by playwright Jean Kerr. Day brings her trademark radiance to
the goings-on and to the songs Please Dont Eat the Daisies and Any Way
the Wind Blows. Spouse Niven finds his hawklike critics eye clouded when
a production of a play he wrote decades earlier may bring about his
comeuppance. With Janis Paige, Spring Byington and Richard Haydn on hand for
snappy comic support, Please Dont Eat the Daisies is breezy family
This is a much better movie than wed expected. Day lights up
the screen with her radiance and is totally believable as the harried housewife
and we must admit its nice to see a movie about a family who loves
each other and isnt dysfunctional somehow, something thats rare
these days (The Incredibles being a noteworthy exception).
The DVD is presented in anamorphic widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible,
with a bright, colorful and sharp picture. Audio is Dolby Digital mono and is
about what youd expect. The only extra is the theatrical trailer.
The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)
Doris Day entered her
eighth consecutive year as a Top-10 Box-Office Star when she boarded The Glass
Bottom Boat, a blending of romantic comedy and the era's burgeoning spy-movie
Day plays a Girl Friday at a hush-hush aeronautics think tank.
When colleagues suspect shes an espionage agent, Jennifer chaotically
sets out to clear her name. Looney Tunes alumnus Frank Tashlin directs with a
cartoonists sensitivity or zany insensitivity embracing
everything from spy guises to push-button chaos in a futuristic kitchen. With
top comedians Arthur Godfrey, Paul Lynde, Edward Andrews, John McGiver, Dom
DeLuise and Dick Martin in tow, The Glass Bottom Boat is loaded top to bottom
with seethrough fun.
The film, which co stars Rod Taylor, is presented in anamorphic
widescreen, 16x9 TV compatible, and the picture quality is very good. Audio is
Dolby Digital mono.
Special features include three vintage featurettes, the
Oscar-winning Chuck Jones cartoon The Dot and the Line, and the trailer.
Calamity Jane (1953)
Doris Day and Howard Keel fuss,
feud and fall in love as Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok in this
enterainment mother lode. At first curvaceous Calamity is too durned busy
fighting Indians and cracking a bullwhip to pay mind to such girlie what-alls
as dresses and perfume. And Wild Bill is too danged busy wooing a dainty
chanteuse (Allyn McLerie) to give a hoot about a hot-headed tomboy. But things
change in a rootin, tootin, big way when each becomes loves target.
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 50s megahit) Secret Love.
The DVD is in the movies original full frame aspect ratio,
so owners of 16x9 TVs prone to burn in should take note. The picture is
very good, though, sharp and bright and colorful. Audio is Dolby Digital mono
and is fine.
Extras abound on this disc, including the trailer as well as
newsreels from the films premier and awards night.
The Pajama Game (1957)
Labor and management at the
Sleeptite Pajama Factory arent sleeping much lately: a proposed 7
½ cent hourly wage increase is why and a strike may result. But
negotiations here involved snappy stars, terrific tunes and dynamic dances as
Doris Day, John Raitt and a Broadway-seasoned cast play The Pajama Game.
Songs by the Damn Yankees duo of Richard Adler and Jerry Ross and
choreography by Bob Fosse generate lots of Steam Heat, all whipped together
delightfully under the direction of two musical masters of stage and screen,
George Abbott and Stanley Donen. Besides Steam Heat (showcasing the quirky
brilliance of dancer Carol Haney), catch Hey There, Im Not At All In
Love, Hernandos Hideaway, Once-a-Year Day and other all-time great
numbers. For peerless entertainment, negotiate no further. Nothings quite
the same as The Pajama Game, newly remastered from restored elements to look
and sound as fresh as ever.
It does look and sound good, too. The film is presented in both
anamorphic widescreen and Pan&Scan video, on opposite sides of the disc,
and the picture quality is very nice indeed. Audio is still Dolby Digital mono,
but it sounds fine.
Extras include a deleted song (The Man Who Invented Love) and the
All in all, a wonderful boxed set!
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