Familiar Territory in This Unremarkable Spin on the Life of Doris Day
DORIS DAY: VIRGIN TERRITORY is a passable if overly familiar documentary on the life and career of legendary movie star Doris Day produced by BBC Wales in 2007. The documentary suffers from a lack of participation by Doris herself and the limited contribution of only a few people who actually worked with her (James Garner, Jackie Joseph, one or two others). The program (narrated by American actor Michael Brandon, there are very few British people in the documentary despite her enormous popularity there) merely features comments by famous fans like Richard Carpenter, a few ordinary fans, comments on the era and her impact by feminist writers Marilyn French and (the always tiresome) Molly Haskell and a handful of very short movie clips with the story of Doris' life being acted out by shadowy faceless actors as the narration tells of incidents in her life.
The goal of the program appears to be reevaluating Doris' works and acknowledging her as a major talent (hasn't that always been the case?) and trying turn her into a iconic symbol like Marilyn or Audrey but when trying to create interest in a subject, shouldn't your program be interesting itself? It's particularly disappointing that the program doesn't really delve into the international popularity of this thoroughly American actress other than acknowledging she was loved worldwide. It could have given the show a more unique twist among the many such television documentaries of this nature.
Despite the lament in some quarters of Doris not being as celebrated as a Monroe or Hepburn, she clearly still has her public as the huge number of CDs and DVDs on the market more than proves. Those releases say a lot more about her enduring appeal than a documentary like this is able to do.
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