Doris Day all day Thursday, The Duke as Star of the Month

Doris Day

Happy birthday, Doris!
Photo courtesy BJ Alias, (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

This week began in a rather terrifying fashion for me, and no doubt you understand what such things bode for the remainder of the week. I can’t tell you how relieved I am not to have anywhere to go today, nothing terribly important to do—yesterday was stressful, too (I didn’t even eat!) and yours truly needs a break. Happily, everything seems to have been straightened out, so no worries, but feel free to send as much dark chocolate or as many old books and embroidery patterns as you’d like. 😉

Despite the rocky start, things began to take a turn for the brighter side last night, and I have some fun classic movie news to share with you. Just because I no longer do TCM Wednesday (and because we’re nearing Stanley Cup playoffs season) doesn’t mean I’m ignoring my love of classic films!

First of all, tomorrow is the great Doris Day’s ninetieth birthday, and TCM is celebrating with a full day of the affable star’s films. Hurrah! Prime time is packed with Doris’ delightful 1960s comedies, all of which are very much worth watching, and in daytime you’ll get your fill (well…almost, because can we ever get enough Doris?) of her musical comedies, including the ever-popular and entertaining Calamity Jane at 4:15PM EST and Love Me Or Leave Me (which Doris herself considers one of the finest movies she was in) at 12:15 in the afternoon. (For a brief look at her career as well as a rundown of the movies, here you go.)

Doris Day and the poodles

“Doris Day and the poodles”, courtesy joanneteh_32, ( CC-BY NC-ND 2.0 )

Now, I don’t know about you, but Doris Day has been one of my favourites since I was able to recognize the faces on the television screen—I love her sunny attitude (she has her own very American brand of good cheer, even when she’s exasperated, that I adore), her twinklingly mischievous eyes and beautiful smile, and of course her lilting voice (Doris Day records from the 40s have a place of honour in my collection). Not only that, but she had undeniable style, whether making catsup or finding herself in a police station surrounded by hippies and chicken feathers! 

Schwinn, Doris Day

Anyone else need a red bicycle now?
“Schwinn, Doris Day” courtesy Arturo Sotillo, ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

The Cincinnati native seems to radiate beauty from within, and just as importantly, she always seemed (and seems) so appreciative of her fans and her career—unlike many stars, she does not take it for granted. Doris Day always seems so genuine to me—no doubt fans worldwide pick up on this and love her all the more for it. She is a rare type in the show business world, and it’s a shame she retired from film (though she released a new album, one that topped the charts in the US and UK as recently as 2011; in 2012, in conjunction with TCM, a wonderful two disc overview of her work was released, too, and it’s a great start for new Doris fans).

James Stewart, Doris Day with Hitchcock - between the scenes fun

“James Stewart, Doris Day with Hitchcock – between the scenes fun” courtesy John Irving, ( CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 )

She’s an all-American gal, who is of course nearly as well-known for her animal care advocacy as her acting and singing career. If you ask me, Doris Day is a true American treasure—one that, like so many of our other treasures, we are more than happy to share with the rest of the world.

In honour of the beloved, multi-talented star’s birthday, Robert Osborne interviewed Doris over the phone (I can’t ever get TCM’s videos to embed, alas), and as you can imagine it begins swimmingly and you’re smiling right off the bat (if not…what is wrong with you?!). You can also sign a birthday card for Doris. Happy birthday, Doris, and thank you for bringing so much joy to so many people’s lives! I cannot believe she’s ninety. It seems impossible!

John Wayne / Gail Russell

Wayne with Gail Russell in “Angel and The Badman”—fine film! It airs April 11 at 8:15AM. 
“John Wayne / Gail Russell” courtesy Tom Margie, ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

In other news, John Wayne is TCM’s Star of the Month for April—meaning five full days of the films of The Duke. As someone who cut her teeth on Wayne’s films, watching his films with her dad and grandfathers, I’ll never dislike the man or his work despite his unpopularity in certain circles (for reasons I sometimes find shallow and sometimes for reasons that are easily corrected—there are a lot of misconceptions and flat lies about the man out there).

One of my very earliest movie memories is of the Duke dragging a squealing Maureen O’Hara over the fields in The Quiet Man, and who can forget their town-ransacking duel in McClintock!—to say nothing of the first time he appears in Stagecoach? Unfortunately, 71CSCkLCTkL._SL1500_The Duke gets a bad rap for playing only one character, but I’ve seen more than enough of his films to put that one to bed—and now we all have the opportunity.

As much at ease on the back of a horse as he was in military uniform (during WWII, having received a deferment due to his age and dependents, Wayne provided the War Department with intelligence gathered during his USO tours and repeatedly visited troops in the South Pacific, receiving two commendations for his service) or the dapper suit of a businessman, his range is wider than a lot of people think, and he acted with a lot of nuance, too. It seems to me that for some reason, people would rather not see this. Their loss, I suppose.

Regardless, I’m tickled to see that The Duke is star of the month, no doubt in at least partial honour of Scott Eyman’s newly-released biography; Eyman will be joining TCM’s Robert Osborne in introducing the Duke’s films Monday nights (prime time); you’ll also be able to watch The Duke’s films all day on Tuesdays! Not a bad deal for a typically chilly and rainy, if you ask me!

In non-TCM-related news, something that always makes me smile: a “treasure trove” of silent films has been found in Amsterdam’s EYE Filmmuseum! This kind of thing happens every so often, and gives a lot of cheer to those hoping other lost films will someday turn up.

Finally, as a kicker—one of my favourite Doris early songs, “Come to, Baby, do!”. Enjoy!

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