Newest Review: ... extremely rememberable and will keep you singing all day long. The film is based in a small place called Deadwood where the Golden Garter ... more
Rough Diamond to a Solitaire
Calamity Jane (DVD)
Member Name: arnoldhenryrufus
Calamity Jane (DVD)
Advantages: Brilliant Musical for all Doris Day fans, fun and upbeat
Disadvantages: well not good for those that don't like musicals
~~ Calamity Jane ~~
I am slowly working my way through my collection of musicals and today I am looking at the film Calamity Jane. I love Doris Day movies, I love musicals and I love Howard Keel’s singing, so I am already onto a winner with this movie.
Calamity Jane is a musical comedy which hit the big screen at the Elks Theatre, Rapid City in South Dakota on 4th November 1953. It was Warner Brother’s competition to MGM’s Annie Get Your Gun which came out in 1950, where as MGM musical gave the story of Annie Oakley and Frank Butler, Warner Brothers wrote about Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok.
Calamity Jane and Wild Bill Hickok were taken from the history books and really did exist and get together in their life time. Bill was a legendary lawman, gambler, gunfighter and drinker he created hell in Deadwood City alongside Calamity Jane for a few years until his death in 1876.
The real Calamity Jane was born on 1st May 1852 in Princeton, Missouri; she was called Martha Jane Cannary. It was years later after her parents died when she was 15yrs old that she started working as a scout for the cavalry. It was during this time that she earned the nickname Calamity Jane after saving a cavalry officer that had been shot by Indians; she picked him up and rode him away to safety. She developed a knack for turning up at times of disaster. She always dressed like a man, but did eventually marry and have a daughter; she passed away at the age of 51 in 1903 and was buried alongside Wild Bill Hickok. Parts of Calamity Jane’s life are reflected in the storyline, like her dressing like a man, her heavy drinking and her working for the Pony Express, riding along on the mail coach. Bill Hickok is also portrayed along with their humorous friendship.
~~ The Film ~~
The film starts with a panoramic view across country showing the stagecoach, with the camera focusing straight onto Calamity Jane played by Doris Day. We are hit straight away with the song The Deadwood Stage. This sets the mood for what is to come, light hearted musical fun, the stage finishes its journey outside the Golden Garter in Deadwood City, with Calamity finishing the song and going into the saloon.
It is hear we meet the majority of the cast, the saloon keeper Henry Miller discovers that his sexy class act Francis Fryer is in fact not a woman but a man and he has a bar full of cowboys hungry for a sexy actress. So whilst Henry is getting into a flap and making some back stage adjustments to our actor. The scene shifts back to our Calamity telling one of her tall stories and we get to meet Wild Bill Hickok for the first time.
The curtains go up to the delight of the audience and Francis dressed as a woman comes out strutting his stuff and entertaining the lads, he gets really stuck into the part until his wig gets caught and comes off. Naturally all the cowboys want to linch Henry and Francis, but Calamity is not having any of it and shoots off her gun into the air to bring them back to order. Hearing there cries of frustration she offers to go to Chicago and bring back Adalaid Adams the Queen of the cigarette cards all the lads hold dear to their loins (oops sorry hearts).
Off she goes to the windy city and true to her word she brings back a lovely actress. Calamity and our actress become good friends and Calamity is transformed into a beautiful woman to the surprise of Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin and Wild Bill Hickok.
Following through the rest of the movie you have some wonderful songs which I will list later and lots of hilarious moments. I am going to stop here and you will have to watch the film to see who our actress is and the reactions she faces? Who does Calamity fall in love with? And what is the men’s reaction to Calamity in a dress? You will have to watch and see.
~~ The Stars ~~
Doris Day – is Calamity Jane and what a spectacular performance she gives, I would have to say this has to be one of her best performances of her career.
Howard Keel – the very tall dark handsome actor, plays the part of Wild Bill Hickok, you will see him like you have never seen him before in this film and to be sure it will bring a smile to your face. Wild Bill Hickok was known as the fastest gun in Deadwood and a gambling man.
Allyn McLerie – plays our actress that has come all the way from Chicago to help Calamity keep her promise. She plays her part well, bringing many feminine attributes to the show and to Calamity.
Philip Carey is cast once again as a US Cavalry man on this occasion he has stolen Calamity’s heart as Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin, but are her affections returned, will it be a happy ever after, you will have to watch and see.
Dick Wesson is Francis Fryer and what a fine Drag Queen he makes, bringing fun and humour to his part.
Paul Harvey plays the over anxious saloon owner Henry Miller.
~~ The Songs ~~
The Deadwood Stage – as I mentioned earlier this starts off this lovely movie, it is upbeat and gets your feet tapping. I can’t help singing away to myself thinking about the song as I write this. Here is a line from the song “Where the injun’ arrows are thicker than porcupine quills”. Hope that gives you an idea.
Hive full of Honey – Francis Fryer singing his heart out to a room full of ‘hungry’ cowboys, a fun light-hearted up beat song.
I Can Do Without You – A fun song where Calamity and Bill have come to loggerheads after he has taunted Calam over her promise to bring back a real actress, he states that the night Adelaid Adams steps onto the stage he will come to the opening dressed as a Sioux Squaw lugging a papoose.
It’s Harry I’m Planning to Marry – This song gets a little airing a few times during the film, the first time being Adelaid Adams on the stage in Chicago and then a couple of verses are heard on other occasions throughout the movie.
Just Blew In From The Windy City – Calamity and our actress have arrived back in Deadwood, Calamity tells everyone in the saloon about her trip to the Windy City which of course is ‘mighty perdy’ , this is all done with a nice little dance scene by Calamity.
Keep It Under Your Hat – This is our Actress’s first song on the stage in the Golden Garter, it is not as lively as some of the songs, but very much appropriate to the scene in front. Our Actress interacts with the audience whilst singing away.
Higher Than A Hawk – a lovely ballad sung by Wild Bill Hickok as he serenades a large portrait of our lovely actress. He does have a lovely voice.
A Woman’s Touch- This is a really uplifting fun song, you could quite easily go round and do your housework singing this to yourself. Ok, maybe that’s going a bit too far, but this song entertains you whilst you watch Calamity and the actress clean up Calam’s Cabin, gosh I wish my house could get that pretty so quick.
The Black Hills of Dakota – they are all off to the Ball at Fort Scully and whilst travelling on the horse drawn carriage through the hills and against the night sky, Doris Day and Howard Keel serenade us with this lovely ballad.
Our last song is the award winning Secret Love, which is a wonderful Ballad, sung by Calamity Jane, who is now looking very dreamy and very feminine; this takes us to the end of the movie.
~~ DVD Extras ~~
Scene Selection – 1-34 done in blocks
Languages – French and English
Sub-titles – 4 Languages available.
~~ Special Features ~~
Western Style Premiere Newsreel – a black and white short footage of a Parade through town, only lasts a few seconds.
Memories of Calamity Jane and Bill Hickok which shows pictures of their graves;
Photoplay Magazines film Awards Newsreel – David Butler with 1 min film footage.
Theatrical Trailer done in colour advertising the movie and showing the highlights, this lasts approx 3 mins.
~~ Trivia ~~
‘Dead Man’s Hand’ became known as this because it was the card hand that Wild Bill Hickok was holding when he was shot in the back during a card game by Jack McCall in 1876.
Philip Carey (Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin) was born Eugene Carey on 25th July 1925. By the time he had starred in Calamity Jane he had made 12 movies with Warner Bros within 2 years all in a cavalry uniform. Being fed up of being type cast he changed direction and appeared in a steamy film noir where he played a bank robber. A year later in 1955 he joined ABCTV which bought an end to his movie career and bought him to the television screens where he is still today appearing in the TV Soap One Life to Live playing Asa Buchanan.
Sammy Fain (Music) and Paul Francis Webster (Lyrics) partnered together during 1950. They worked well together and got their first academy award for best song with Secret Love in 1953.
Doris Day has to change her cosy trademark of sunny screen persona into a boisterous and rowdy tomboy with a masculine swagger. She also had to lower the tone in her voice to make it sound ‘tougher’ so to speak.
Doris Day was born Doris Mary Ann Von Kapellhoff in Evanston, Ohio on 3rd April 1924, which was also the same day Marlon Brando was born.
She was looking forward to a dancing career, but this had the blocks put on it after both her legs were broken in a car crash.
Today Doris Day lives in Carmel Valley, and continues to work for the Doris Day Animal Foundation which she set up in 1987.
She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2004.
~~ My Thoughts ~~
The film is simply good clean family fun, it captures your attention and gets you singing along right from the opening credits. You can’t help falling in love with our main character Calamity Jane, she has a sweet naivety about her that attracts your attention and pulls on your heart strings throughout the movie. It will make you laugh, cry, smile and sing, what more can you ask for. A classic from its era, they just don’t make them like this anymore.
I was sadly very disappointed with the DVD extras, I think that is because I have been spoilt by modern DVD’s that put on loads of extras to encourage you to purchase the movies. Oh, well the film more than makes up for it.
Thank you for reading
Summary: A fun upbeat family musical with Howard Keel and Doris Day