For all you darlings from London. or visiting London in December... This might be an interesting 'vintage night on the town' for you. BFI Southbank decided to put the sometimes unappreciated star Doris Day in the spotlight, showing a huge selection of DD films... what a tribute! I just love the British Film Institute for their quest to create greater understanding of and acces to (vintage) film and television. Here is some information on BFI's Doris Day December.
For seven consecutive years from 1959, Doris Day was one of the top four box-office attractions and for four of those years she shone at the number-one spot. Forty-four years after she quit films in 1968, she is still the top female box-office draw of all time. Yet no other major star’s often first-rate work has been so misunderstood and egregiously underrated.
Over 20 years she made 39 films but you’ll search in vain for early footage of Day, born in Cincinnati in 1924, honing her skills. Acting hadn’t been part of the plan – she was ‘discovered’ while working as a band singer – but in 1948 she debuted on screen in the lead role of eager, gum-chewing Gloria Garrett in It’s Magic.
Her shimmering recording of the title song sold over a million copies, but even without that it was instantly apparent to Warner Bros that her appeal was not simply vocal. Bright-eyed Day’s rare combination of zinging technical precision and radiant warmth effortlessly translated into a screen persona that spelt financial success.
Her immediacy and attractive lack of guile kept her afloat through 16 further pictures with the studio, most of which were nostalgic musicals epitomised by Tea for Two and On Moonlight Bay. The latter ushered in her tomboy persona, a shift that hit paydirt in Calamity Jane.
The true depth of her dramatic skill only became clear when she left Warners in 1955, playing opposite bullying James Cagney in Love Me or Leave Me. Her ability to delineate and transmit emotion then peaked as Hitchcock’s far-from-bland blonde in The Man Who Knew Too Much.
But it’s the late romantic comedies, particularly those with Rock Hudson starting with Pillow Talk that, for good and ill, cemented her reputation. They catapulted her to her greatest success but the times were against her. Sixties permissiveness was a playground for male, not female, sexuality. Day’s defiant independence was written off as frigidity and her notably sincere conviction didn’t match the era’s cynicism. Revisiting her still critically neglected work reveals Day as an unsung heroine, a woman who held out for what she believed in.
BFI Southbank celebrates Hollywood’s golden girl this December with a dazzling season of some of her finest and best-loved films, including her perky screen debut in It’s Magic, Wild West musical Calamity Jane, Hitchcock’s classic suspense film The Man Who Knew Too Much, and highly successful romantic comedy Pillow Talk, co-starring Rock Hudson, launching with Resurrection Day!: Doris Day season introduction.
Resurrection Day!: Doris Day season introduction
Doris Day made her name in musicals (which most cineastes despise) and compounded the felony starring in rom-coms (which they detest). No wonder she’s been critically dismissed. Heralding a season devoted to restoring her reputation, Variety critic David Benedict casts such snobbery aside and rediscovers a gifted comedienne with rare dramatic skill. With clips from the well-loved Calamity Jane to the little-screened Midnight Lace, he shatters her ‘virginal’ image and celebrates the sheer finesse of one of Hollywood’s most underrated actors.
Tue 4 Dec 18:20 NFT3 Tickets £5