Top of the World : 10 Doris Day Films on her Centenary

I always found myself deeply fortunate to share my birthday with the wonderful and sparkling Doris Day, who wasn’t only a great singer but also a brilliant (and underrated) actress. And overall, she’s someone who constantly brings joy to my life. Listening to Doris Day music or watching one of her films is a perfect way to cheer me up. As I write that article, her songs are playing on my Bluetooth speaker. Doris, unfortunately, left us in May 2019. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue celebrating her and her legacy. True to herself, the extraordinary Michaela from Love Letters to Old Hollywood is back with her Doris Day Blogathon for a 6th consecutive year!

Teacher’s Pet

As we celebrate what would have been her centennial, I thought a top list of my favourite Doris Day films would be a perfect way to honour her.

Before going on with my top list, here are a few things to, please, keep in mind:

  • That is a list of my favourites, so it’s subjective. My favourite might not be your favourite, but that makes the world an exciting place.
  • I have not seen all of Doris Day films (far from it), so there are probably some great ones that I haven’t seen yet and won’t be on my list. But you know, that’s the kind of top that can change any (Doris) day!

Anyway, I’m repeating the old stuff I’m always writing whenever I make a top list on my blog. You get the general portrait.

Without further ado, here we go! Don’t hesitate to click on the hyperlinks to read my full reviews for some of these films!

10- Honourable mention : a Doris Day and Rock Hudson’s film

Ok, I’m kicking things off in a super weird way. I’m sure I saw another film with Doris Day and Rock Hudson that wasn’t Pillow Talk, but I don’t remember which one it was! I THINK it was Lover Come Back (Delbert Mann, 1961), but I’m not 100 % sure. Although I don’t really remember anything from that film, I have a vague memory of having a good time while watching it. Looking at the trailer and some pictures, I’m pretty sure it was Lover Come Back, but I might also be subject to a Mandela effect. I know it’s weird to include a film I don’t remember the title and the story, BUT since it’s one I know I enjoyed and more than the other ones that aren’t on that list, I thought, why not? But yeah, I agree with you; I sound a bit silly at the moment!

9- Midnight Lace (David Miller, 1960)

That film is far from being perfect and a bit predictable at times. Nevertheless, it’s one I easily enjoyed. It has an impressive cast and a story that constantly puts you at the edge of your seat. Plus, can we give due credit to Irene, who designed the costumes for that film?

8- Teacher’s Pet (George Seaton, 1958)

That film is fun and entertainment in its most primitive form, and that’s what we sometimes need, right? Doris and Clark Gable’s pairing might sound odd, and it is a little bit. Still, the King of Hollywood manages to match Doris’s comedic timing! My only regret is that Mamie Van Doreen’s screen time is too short. As much as I love the other actors, she totally steals the show in her scene. Also, I love the absurdity of Gig Young’s character.

7- Love Mer of Leave Me (Charles Vidor, 1955)

Released one year prio to The Man Who Knew Too Much, that film stars Doris Day in the role of real-life singer Ruth Etting. She was on the right track to prove her versatility as an actress and that she could do more than light musicals. The challenging relationship between her character and James Cagney’s gives place to many possibilities in terms of acting and for that film to be an unforgettable one. Add to that the unforgettable musical numbers!

6- Pillow Talk (Michael Gordon, 1959)

That film was directed by cutie-pie Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s grandfather, which makes you say: “talent runs in the family”. Pillow Talk is a classic and among Doris Day’s most well-regarded films. Plus, it marked an essential step in her career as it was her first on-screen collaboration with Rock Hudson. That pairing was meant to be as their chemistry was magic. Day received her first and only Oscar nomination for her performance in that film. And we know she deserved more of them.

5- That Touch of Mink (Delbert Mann, 1962)

My uncle was the one who recommended that film to me. And how can you say “no” to Doris Day AND Cary Grant? Although I have seen it only once, I can’t omit it from my top list. I remember having a delightful time while watching it and bursting into laughs on many occasions. No, I don’t recall everything about it, but it’s most certainly a film I’m looking forward to re-watch.

4- Calamity Jane (David Butler, 1953)

Calamity Jane is one of those films I instantly loved the first time I watched it, and I never get tired of doing so. It’s just SO MUCH FUN. It’s a western that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it has many unforgettable moments and songs. When Doris sings Secret Love, her voice is definitely at her loveliest. Plus, I love her chemistry with Howard Keel.

3- Tea for Two (David Butler, 1950)

That is assuredly one of Doris Day’s most underrated films. I always like to explain that my first introduction to that film was the song “Oh Me! Oh My! Oh You!” and that it inspired a one-act play I wrote when I was in CEGEP called Oh, Me! It was very silly but quite funny, I think! Tea for Two is that kind of film with characters, dialogues, songs and dances that make it so colourful and impossible for you to get bored while watching it. I remember the first time I saw it, I wasn’t expecting much. It turned out to be a beautiful surprise.

2- The Man Who Knew Too Much (Alfred Hitchcock, 1956)

That remake of the 1934’s version of The Man Who Knew Too Much (also directed by Hitchcock) is a close second favourite. It even used to be my favourite Hitchcock film. Now, it’s overall The Lady Vanishes, but TMWNTM would be my favourite American Hitchcock film. The film also introduced me to Doris’s acting, and what a perfect way to do so. Doris has often been labelled as not necessarily a great dramatic actress, but you are proven wrong here. Think of that scene where her character [SPOILER] learns that her son has been kidnapped [END OF SPOILER]. Her devastated reaction feels so real that it almost physically hurts. Plus, that’s a film I love to use to introduce Hitchcock to people who aren’t familiar with his filmography. It’s adventurous, brilliantly acted, has an epic score by Bernard Herrmann, and is full of suspense, just like a Hitchcock film should be. And there’s even some humour! Last but not least, many people don’t know that Doris Day’s most famous song, “Que Sera Sera“, was written for that film!

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1- Romance on the High Seas (Michael Curtiz, 1948)

Yeah, what was Doris Day’s very first film is my favourite. As a matter of fact, I love that film so much that it’s even in my top 10 favourite films of all time. There’s, in fact, not much that I don’t like about that film. Not only does it has Doris Day at her most charming, but also some of my favourite character actors, more exactly S.Z. Sakall and Jack Carson. Plus, it’s hilarious, and you know how much I’m always in for a good laugh. Moreover, it is what I call “a musical for people who don’t like musicals”. There are lovely tunes, but there aren’t too many, and you can enjoy a story without having a song poping at any moment. I love musicals, but I’m saying that for people who don’t and who could be reluctant to watch that film. To conclude, it’s so weird to think that it was directed by the guy who made Casablanca. In the same vein as William Wyler and Robert Wise, Michael Curtiz was probably one of the most versatile directors in Old Hollywood.

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Well, that’s it! A huge thanks to Michaela for hosting that always fun blog event! You can read the other entries here.

Don’t hesitate to let me know YOUR favourite Doris Day films in the comments!

And of course, have a Doris day! 😀