An ex-husband and wife team star in a musical version of 'The Taming of the Shrew'; off-stage, the production is troublesome with ex-lovers' quarrels and a gangster looking for some money owed to them.
Deadwood, Dakota Territory, is largely the abode of men, where Indian scout Calamity Jane is as hard-riding, boastful, and handy with a gun as any; quite an overpowering personality. But the army lieutenant she favors doesn't really appreciate her finer qualities. One of Jane's boasts brings her to Chicago to recruit an actress for the Golden Garter stage. Arrived, the lady in question appears (at first) to be a more feminine rival for the favors of Jane's male friends...including her friendly enemy Wild Bill Hickock. Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
When Francis Fryer is really getting into his number ("I've Got A Hive Full of Honey"), he drops his handkerchief while backing up to the trombonist. A quick cut and the chiffon hankie is back in his hand. He didn't stop to pick it up off the floor. See more »
At last my heart's an open door / And my secret love's no secret any more.
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For a film that is fifty years old 'Calamity Jane' still entertains. It is usually compared unfavorably to 'Annie Get Your Gun' but I always enjoy this more. Doris Day dominates the film; dressed in buckskin or in frills, toting a gun or wielding a broom, belting out a song or doing a pratfall. Certainly a high point of her varied career. Her sheer energy is breath taking and it is no wonder that the rest of the cast seem subdued in comparison. Even Howard Keel is a bit wooden.
The songs are great, scattered through the uncomplicated plot like jewels, from the bouncy 'Deadwood Stage' to the combative 'I Can Do Without You' to the under rated 'High As A Hawk' and climaxing with the anthemic 'Secret Love'. 'A Woman's Touch' is not proof to our modern cynicism (for good reason) but it is still jolly song.
Looking back we can give other readings of the film; the cross dressing, the gay resonances, the treatment of the native Americans, the ownership of land. Which may all be true but it is basically what it is, a colourful and tuneful film that can be enjoyed time after time. It is mighty pretty and on its own terms pretty mighty.
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