Monday, March 3, 2008

Doris Day

"With a public image so pure that it made Ivory Snow look like soot by comparison, Doris Day spent most of her professional life purveying the image of a pristine, virginal 'girl you'd like to take home to mother.'"

Wikipedia entry on Doris Day:
In Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much, she sang "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)", which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song. According to Jay Livingston (who wrote the song with Ray Evans), Day preferred another song used briefly in the film, "We'll Love Again", and skipped the recording for Que Sera, Sera. When the studio pushed her, she relented, but after recording the number in one take, she reportedly told a friend of Livingston's, "That's the last time you'll ever hear that song." The song was used again in her 1960 film, Please Don't Eat the Daisies and was reprised as a brief duet with Arthur Godfrey in The Glass Bottom Boat; it also became the theme song for her television show. This was her only film for Hitchcock and, as she admitted in her memoirs, she was initially concerned at his lack of direction; she finally asked him if anything was wrong and he said everything was fine; if she wasn't doing what he wanted he would have said something.
Dennis Bingham, "'Before She Was a Virgin . . .': Doris Day and the Decline of Female Film Comedy in the 1950s and 1960s":I
[Doris Day's] "image" . . . looms so large as to block out the talents of the woman herself and the films that she made. "She appears sheer symbol," wrote Updike, "of a kind of beauty, of a kind of fresh and energetic innocence, of a kind of banality. Her very name seems to signify less a person than a product, wrapped in an alliterating aura." Dwight MacDonald, ostensibly reviewing That Touch of Mink in 1962, diagnoses a disease:

"'The Doris Day Syndrome.' The chief symptom is a bland conformity, of which the 'disease,' conversely, is also a symptom in the culture at large. MacDonald's Day is
as wholesome as a bowl of cornflakes and at least as sexy. [Her face is] unmarked by experience, thus titillating the American male's Lolita complex, while at the same time . . . , it is full of Character, or maybe just Niceishness, so that it also appeals to the ladies. No wonder Doris Day is Hollywood's No. 1 box-office property. I suspect most American mothers would be pleased, and relieved, if their daughters grew up to resemble Doris Day. She has the healthy, antiseptic Good Looks and the Good Sport personality that the American middle class—that is, practically everybody—admires as a matter of duty."

Legend has it that when Doris Day first heard the song, her reaction was that it was a “forgettable children’s song.” Eventually, she recorded the song for Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller, “The Man Who Knew Too Much.” The song won an Oscar for best original song.

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