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This film is a remake of My Favorite Wife (1940), the hilarious film which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Move Over Darling was originally going to be called Something’s Got to Give, and meant to star Marilyn Monroe and Dean Martin. When Monroe was fired before the film was finished and Dean Martin subsequently pulled out of the project, it was rewritten for Doris Day, who starred opposite James Garner.

Ellen Arden (Day) has been missing presumed dead for five years, after a plane she was travelling on crashed into the ocean. Her husband Nick (James Garner) survived the crash, and now wants to have Ellen declared legally dead so that he can marry his new girlfriend Bianca (Polly Bergen). However – wouldn’t you just know it? – on the very day that Nick and Bianca marry, Ellen is brought home after being rescued by the Navy from the desert island she has made her home. Hoping to rekindle her marriage with Nick, she is more than a little surprised to see that there is now a new Mrs Arden…!

It’s been a while since I watched My Favorite Wife, but I remember that I really enjoyed it. Cary Grant was better than almost anyone in these kinds of slapstick roles, and Irene Dunne was always great when she played opposite him. So actors in any remake had big boots to fill – but Doris Day can pretty much do no wrong, and she is fantastic here. She sparkles with the magic she brings to all of her roles, and really shows off her talent for comedy. Similarly James Garner was really great as Nick, and the two played off each other with great chemistry. Kudos to Polly Bergen for playing the somewhat hard done to Bianca, and major props to Thelma Ritter, who played Nick’s mother, Grace Arden.

Overall, a really lovely and enjoyable film – less screwball than MFW, but just as good in it’s own way. I recommend it!

 

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New York drama critic Larry McKay (David Niven) and his wife Kate (Doris Day) live in an apartment with their four rambunctious boys and their pet dog.  Although they have dreamed of moving to a quiet house in the country for years, Larry’s new-found celebrity as a famous critic makes him start enjoying the busy city life.  When they do move to a country house, there is conflict as Kate finds that she likes the life there, while Larry is still trying to maintain the social whirl that is the New York theatre scene.

That brief recap makes the film sound more like a drama than a comedy, but this IS a comedy.  I didn’t find it laugh-out-loud funny, but there were lots of amusing moments in it.  I also think that David Niven and Doris Day are both so appealing and such likeable actors, that I couldn’t help but enjoy watching them, and they do play perfectly off each other.

The supporting cast are good too – Janis Paige as an actress who tries to tempt Larry away from his wife; Richard Haydn as their playwright friend Alfred, who falls out with Larry after Larry criticises his latest production; and Spring Byington as Kate’s mother.  However, my favourite co-star was Hobo the dog, who refused to walk outside, and was apparently spooked by every other creature, including a frog and a squirrel!

It’s not the best film of either Day’s nor Niven’s career, but it is an enjoyable couple of hours, and well worth seeing, particularly if you are a fan of either actor.

Year of release: 1960

Director: Charles Walters

Producers: Martin Melcher, Joe Pasternak

Writers: Jean Kerr (book), Isobel Lennart

Main cast: David Niven, Doris Day, Janis Paige, Spring Byington, Richard Haydn, Patsy Kelly, Jack Weston

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This film is the first of three films which teamed Doris Day and Rock Hudson.  Day is serious, independent interior designer Jan Morrow, and Hudson is songwriter and playboy Brad Allen.  They share a party line (readers under a certain age will not know what that is, but basically, they share the same telephone number although they live at different addresses, and when one is using the telephone, the other is unable to do so).  Jan is annoyed because Brad is constantly using the phone to romance various women, which means that nobody can get through to her.  They argue about it via telephone, but without actually meeting.  When Brad sees Jan, he falls for her, but realises that if she discovers his identity, she won’t give him the time of day, so he pretends to be a Texan tourist named Rex Stinson, and their romance develops…

This film preceded 1961’s Lover Come Back – the second Day/Hudson film, and the two plot lines are basically the same – she is the strong career-minded woman, and he is the playboy who pretends to be someone else in order to romance her.  I loved Lover Come Back, but I think I preferred Pillow Talk.  The chemistry between the two leads is terrific, and Day in particular is extremely funny.  It’s not particularly spoilerish to say that she does eventually discover his true identity, and the use of music and facial expressions in that scene genuinely made me laugh out loud.

Truly excellent support was provided by Tony Randall and Thelma Ritter – in fact these two almost stole the movie!  Randall plays Jonathan Forbes, a client of Jan’s who has fallen in love with her – and he also happens to be friends with Brad!  Ritter is Jan’s permanently sozzled maid Alma, and every scene that she was in was a gem.

Overall, this was a hugely enjoyable, light-hearted film, which is an absolute must for fans of old-fashioned romances.

Year of release: 1959

Director: Michael Gordon

Producers: Martin Melcher, Ross Hunter, Edward Muhl

Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Maurice Richlin, Russell Rouse, Clarence Greene

Main cast: Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall, Thelma Ritter

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This is the second of three films which paired Doris Day and Rock Hudson. They play advertising executives Carol Templeton and Jerry Webster, who work at rival agencies on Madison Avenue. Carol is furious when Jerry snaffles a client from under her nose, and when she hears that Jerry is hoping to land the campaign for a new mystery product called Vip, she is determined to beat him to the contract. Trouble is, Vip doesn’t exist. Jerry created a campaign which was never supposed to see the light of day, for a product which hasn’t been invented, but the campaign is a huge success and he has to create a product for it! When Carol meets Jerry for the first time, she mistakes him for the scientist who she believes has invented Vip, and sets out to win the contract to sell his product. Needless to say, chaos ensues…

This is the perfect film to watch if you want something frothy, undemanding and light-hearted – and there are a lot of laughs. Rock Hudson was never the most gifted of actors, being somewhat wooden, but his good looks and easy charm meant that he was just fine for this role. He also has great chemistry with Doris Day. She is great as the indignant Carol, and looks gorgeous throughout (despite someone’s disastrous decision to have her wear a series of increasingly unattractive hats!) Tony Randall plays a great supporting role as Jerry’s hapless boss, Pete Ramsey.

It’s worth noting that despite the somewhat outdated ideas of relationships and a woman’s role, Doris Day plays a strong minded and intelligent woman, of independent means – something that you didn’t necessarily see a lot of in films from that era (although she frequently played such parts).

The film is also something of a satire on the consumer culture (and was maybe slightly ahead of its time in that respect). I mean, there is an advertising campaign for a product – nobody knows what the product even is (!) and yet people are fighting for the right to sell the product, and desperate to get their hands on it!

The ending is probably predictable, particularly for fans of this genre, but that doesn’t make it any the less enjoyable.

Overall, this is a sparkly comedy, which bounces along nicely and provides some extremely amusing moments. It would probably appeal more to women than to men, but it’s a film that I would certainly recommend.

Year of release: 1961

Director: Delbert Mann

Producers: Robert Arthur, Martin Melcher, Stanley Shapiro

Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Paul Henning

Main cast: Doris Day, Rock Hudson, Tony Randall, Edie Adams

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This is quite a nice little comedy.  Made in 1968, it stars the lovely Doris Day – who raises it from being mediocre to being sweet if ultimately forgettable.

Day plays Abby McClure, a widow with three sons (two young and one who has just graduated college).  She meets and falls in love with Jake Iverson (Brian Keith), a widower with one daughter, who has also just graduated.  However, the path of true love does not run smooth as Abby and Jake encounter hostility from their families, especially the two older children.  Unable to decide whose house they should live in, the two end up switching their lives between both of their houses, and the only place where Abby and Jake can get any time alone is at a drive-in coffee place (Herbie, the man who serves them their coffee, is played by the late great George Carlin in his first movie role).

There are some funny moments; Day has a terrific aptitude for comedy, and Keith is also excellent as the man who is surprised to find himself falling in love again, and at a loss as to how to make his family and his new wife happy.

However, there were a few cringeworthy moments – possibly due to what are now outmoded ideas.  For example at one stage, one of Abby’s younger sons asks Jake if he (Jake) is his father now, and Jake just tells him that yes he is.  This seemed odd, as the better course of action to take would surely have been to say that the boy already had a father – or at least to mention the boy’s late father!

The ending of the film is also somewhat contrived (but by the ending I do mean only the last couple of minutes; the scenes leading up to the events of the last few minutes are really very amusing), and other reviewers have criticised it, although I accept that it would have been difficult to have it end up any other way.

All in all, it’s certainly not an offensive film, and it’s a pleasant enough way to pass a couple of hours, due to the two main stars and Doris Day in particular.  However it’s fair to say that this was one of the less well received films of Day’s career (and was in fact the last feature film she has made to date); nonetheless, fans could do worse than watch this.

Year of release: 1968

Director: Howard Morris

Writers: Gwen Bagni, Paul Dubov, Harvey Bullock, R.S. Allen

Main cast: Doris Day, Brian Keith, Pat Carroll, Barbara Hershey, George Carlin, Alice Ghostley, John Findlater

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This is a fun film from 1953, with Doris Day as famous sharpshooter Calamity Jane and Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok.  Calamity promises to bring a big singing star to Deadwood, but through a case of mistaken identity, brings the wrong person.  However, the girl she brings – Katie – turns out to be a hit and stays in Deadwood.  Problems ensue when both the Lieutenant and Wild Bill fall for Katie…

Well, if you’re looking for historical accuracy or to learn more about the real Calamity Jane, this film is not the one to watch!  However, if you’re looking for some uplifting tunes and a great deal of fun, then I’d recommend watching it.  Doris Day is as gorgeous as ever in the lead role, and even though none of the men in Deadwood see Calamity as anything other than one of the guys, it’s impossible to cover up Doris’s beauty to the viewer.  She hams up her part and seems to have a lot of fun with it.  She portrays Calamity as a woman capable of holding her own against any man, but also nursing vulnerabilities that she’s afraid to show.  But apart from her beautiful song ‘Secret Love’, this film does not dwell too much on serious matters and instead just provides pure entertainment.

Howard Keel was great as Wild Bill.  I far preferred his part in this to his role in Kiss Me Kate, and Bill was a great foil to the adorable feisty Calamity.  The two leads have great chemistry together and their duets The Black Hills Of Dakota and I Can Do Without You work very well.  I also really liked the aforementioned Secret Love, and the opening song The Deadwood Stage (Whip Crackaway).

Overall some good laughs, likeable leads, the lovely Doris Day, and a singalong score – definitely worth watching, especially for fans of musicals, or light hearted Westerns.

Year of release: 1953

Director: David Butler

Writer: James O’Hanlon

Main cast: Doris Day, Howard Keel, Allyn Ann McLerie, Philip Carey

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Click here for my review of Willenhall Musical Theatre Company’s 2013 stage production.

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Doris Day plays Cathy Timberlake, a young woman who has come to New York City from the country.  She meets businessman Philip Shayne (Cary Grant) after his car splashes her with mud.  There’s an instant attraction between them, but while Cathy dreams of marriage and children, Philip isn’t one for commitment.  Nonetheless they plan a break in Bermuda together,  but things start to awry…

I really enjoyed this film – I’ve seen it described as “a frothy delightful romantic comedy” which sums it up perfectly.  Sure, the storyline is somewhat outdated (Cathy’s worry that their being in Bermuda together – unmarried – will cause a scandal, and a scene where Philip and another man casually discuss hitting their partners took me aback) – but if you can take it for what it is, there’s plenty to enjoy here.

Grant and Day both look fabulous, and as always, Cary Grant is charming and sauve, and has some very funny lines.  Both stars play their parts very well, but it’s worth mentioning the supporting roles played by Gig Young, as Roger – Philip’s younger and more idealistic assistant who feels that he has sold his soul; and Audrey Meadows, as Connie – Cathy’s more streetwise room-mate.  Young and Meadows were both terrific and Young in particular provided many incredibly funny moments.

Overall, this is a funny and engaging movie – perfect for kicking back and relaxing with for a couple of hours.

Year of release: 1962

Director: Delbert Mann

Writers: Stanley Shapiro, Nate Monaster

Main cast: Cary Grant, Doris Day, Audrey Meadows, Gig Young

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