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>
A Columbia Records album of selections from the Sammy Fain-Paul Francis Webster film score was comprised of four songs directly from the soundtrack (supervised by Ray Heindorf), and four tunes commercially rerecorded by Doris Day alone (arranged and conducted by Paul Weston). The original 10-inch LP has been transferred to CD in Britain by Prism Platinum. In 1995, another English label, Jay Records, re-created the complete film score, adding five numbers from the 1979 British stage production. See more »
When Calamity shoots at Katie at the ball in the fort, the bullet sprays punch all over Katie, but the punch bowl and glass remain unbroken (Katie can be seen to drop an unbroken glass) See more »
Excitement? Why, I got more arrows in the back of that coach than a porcupine has got stickers!
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In the early fifties, Hollywood had to find a way to draw audiences who were staying home and watching television, and "Calamity Jane" was one of the best musical efforts to get them into the theaters. This movie's redeeming quality is its high spirits. They never let up. The Deadwood community that James O'Hanlon rustles up is a motley bunch of soldiers, scouts, prospectors and farmers, and they all have a good time giving one another a hard time--none more so than the title character played by Doris Day. Her performance probably owes something to Betty Hutton's Annie Oakley, and it looks an awful lot like what Billie Hayes and Irene Ryan had been doing years afterwards, but Day dons a buckskin suit and tears right into the role like it was a tailor's fit.
I don't think I have to go into the rumor about the real Calamity Jane to point out how daring Day's work is. Hollywood might have sanitized history (or maybe not), but Day is as close to being Martha Jane Canary as anyone is likely to be in a time when drag acts were something no one ever talked about. And she is lucky to have some of the best movie music of that year (or maybe any year when you consider what now passes for good). Sammy Fain and John Francis Webster took the Oscar for best song, yet the ones that weren't in the running are every bit as good.
How can you pass up a musical that delivers the deeply satisfying baritone of Howard Keel? When he bursts out with joy in "Higher than a Hawk," the light from the screen surges, and you feel like you're resting on a sunlit cloud right next to his. His smile matches Day's for brightness, and as they ride through the Black Hills singing harmony, even the birds seemed to have stopped to listen. It's a beautiful pairing that I don't think ever happened again.
"Calamity Jane" may not be everyone's cup of tea. If you're looking for history, this is not the place to go. But stop by, and Day and Keel and Dick Wesson and Allyn Ann McLerie and Paul Harvey and company will more than tickle your fancy. They'll keep you humming for days.
Directed by David Butler who has given us over the years a string of felicitous moments to remember from Will Rogers in "A Connecticut Yankee," to Jane Withers in "Bright Eyes," to the Ritz Brothers in "Kentucky Moonshine," to Bob Hope in "Road to Morocco," to S.Z. Sakall in "Lullaby of Broadway" and on and on and on.
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