Saturday, April 14, 2018

DVDebut for 1991 bio-doc loaded with extras: DORIS DAY -- A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY

In the interesting and surprising introduction to the 27-year-old documentary, DORIS DAY: A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY, no less than famous film critic Roger Ebert admits that he feels quite, quite guilty for making such fun of singer/actress Doris Day during the latter part of her really phenomenal career, realizing at last that for years in former times she was actually his favorite actress. TrustMovies suspects that many of us may have a similar reaction, making fun of Day (who turned 96 earlier this month) as the "perennial virgin" during those post-Pillow Talk years while rather conveniently forgetting how much we loved her in earlier times. (Romance on the High Seas, her 1948 movie debut, remains one of my fondest movie-magic memories, while the 1951 Storm Warning -- nowhere mentioned in this very "selective" documentary -- gave me my initial education regarding the Ku Klux Klan.)

Ms Day (shown above, early in her career, and further below in various film incarnations) was effortlessly cute, charming, innocent, funny and real, while possessing one of the great singing voices of the time, and her career included a number of movies that, even today, hold up marvelously well.

This documentary -- directed by Dick Carter and Steve Norman and written by James Arntz and Katherine MacMillin -- includes interviews with a host of Hollywood celebs, especially a lot of gab from Betty White and Tony Randall, with some interesting remarks also provided by the likes of Kaye Ballard, Rosemary Clooney, Clint Eastwood (above, with Doris), Ross Hunter and, of all people, John Updike.

The commentary is generally intelligent and entertaining, as it describes Day's growing and evolving career, from pure musical-comedy (as in Calamity Jane, above) to the more dramatic roles in films such as The Man Who Knew Too Much (below) and Love Me or Leave Me (two photos down). Both the star and her documentary are as perky and positive as seemingly ever.

What's missing here is anything that might be considered "personal." Oh, we hear about Day's various marriages (three of them) and the several blips along the way in her career (an accident early on that made her move from dancing to singing), with special emphasis on how her third husband, agent Martin Melcher, pushed his star/wife in new directions.

Fortunately, the disc includes one large bonus feature that helps fill this gap. That would be the complete 1976 interview with Merv Griffin from his then television show, in which the host talks to Day about all sorts of subjects and the star answers him with thoughtful, measured and often quite wonderful responses. What a pleasure (and a surprise) it is to see something like this -- which puts to utter shame the canned, schlocky late-night talk shows we have now (from Kimmel and Fallon to Meyers, Daly, Corden and Colbert) in which everybody speaks so fast, loud (and phony) that it seems as if they're all playing Beat the Clock. Watch reruns of Merv Griffin or Dick Cavett to view "real" people and to see and understand how degraded our talk shows, along with their audiences, have finally become.

Also on the disc's extras is the complete TV episode, The Job, from The Doris Day Show, and a rather large collection of trailers and promotional spots for some of the star's movies. From MPI Home Video and running 54 minutes (plus 84 minutes of bonus material), Doris Day: A Sentimental Journey hits the street on DVD this Tuesday, April 17, for purchase and (I hope) rental). The disc should prove catnip for fans and might just provide this screen-and-recording icon with a number of new converts. (That's Day and co-star Jack Carson, above, right, in Romance on the High Seas.)

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