Monday, November 19, 2007


Everyone seems to love this big, bright, colorful musical which marked Doris Day's screen debut. While I do like Day here, in a brassy role very different from the kind for which she became famous, I could barely stick with the movie until the end, and I even spread the viewing out over two days. Janis Page is upset because her rich businessman husband (Don DeFore) keeps canceling their anniversary vacation cruises. When DeFore backs out of another one but insists that Paige go on without him, she suspects him of cheating and hires nightclub singer Doris Day to take her ticket and pose as her, while she stays in town to check up on him. Meanwhile, DeFore has suspicions of his own and hires private eye Jack Carson to go on the cruise and report back about his wife's activities. Carson follows Day, thinking she's Paige; Day, at Paige's instructions, remains above reproach the whole trip, but Carson falls for her and feels plenty guilty about it. Eventually, all four wind up in Rio and everything gets sorted out the way you knew it would from the beginning. This plays out like an attempt at an updated Astaire/Rogers musical romance, and Eric Blore and Franklin Pangborn, cast regulars in the Astaire pictures, make welcome cameos here, but otherwise this movie is evidence that the studios could not wring much new out of the old formula, and bright colors and costumes can't make up for the absence of two great talents at the helm. Day, in a role intended for Betty Hutton, is quite good and gets to do several songs (including the Oscar-nominated "It's Magic"), but she's let down by the rather drab trio around her. Carson and Paige occasionally hit their marks, but just as often misfire, and DeFore is a clunky disaster. Oscar Levant spices things up as Day's cynical pianist. S. Z. Sakall does his usual shtick as a befuddled uncle--I love Sakall in CASABLANCA and CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT, but frankly I don't care if I ever see him again. A high point of the movie for me was a bit with Grady Sutton as the ship's radio operator who flirts with Carson when he misunderstands the contents of Carson's telegram. But generally, I'd say skip this unless you're a Doris Day fan. [DVD]

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