Doris Day is Turner Classic Movies' Star of the Month of April 2012. TCM's Doris Day homage begins this evening with eight movies released at the start of Day's career at Warner Bros. In addition to Day's presence, what those movies have in common is the following: little plot, lots of music, and Old Hollywood's fluff-producing machinery at work. If that's your thing, don't miss them!
Of those, the better one is probably Roy Del Ruth's On Moonlight Bay (1951, photo). Though nothing at all like Del Ruth's crackling Warner Bros. movies of the early '30s – e.g., The Maltese Falcon, Beauty and the Boss, Blessed Event – this musical comedy set in a small American town prior to World War I offers some genuine nostalgia, great songs, and charming performances, including those of the two good-looking leads, Day and Gordon MacRae.
On Moonlight Bay was popular enough to merit a sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953), which TCM will strangely be presenting before the earlier film. David Butler directed this one.
A couple of curiosities are It's a Great Feeling (1949) and Starlift (1951), as those two feature cameos by dozens of Warner Bros. stars of the period, among them Joan Crawford, Patricia Neal, Gary Cooper, Ruth Roman, and Errol Flynn. The plots of those films – if one could call them that – are quite similar to those of Warners' Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) and Hollywood Canteen (1944). In the case of Starlift, the studio only needed to replace one war (World War II) with another (Korea War).
Schedule (PT) and synopses from the TCM website:
5:00 PM THE LULLABY OF BROADWAY (1951). A star's former servants try to keep her daughter from learning of her fate. Dir.: David Butler Cast: Doris Day, Gene Nelson, S.Z. Sakall. Color. 92 min.
6:45 PM BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (1953). A small-town girl's love life goes ballistic when her sweetheart returns from World War I. Dir.: David Butler Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Leon Ames. Color. 102 min.
10:15 PM ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951). A small-town tomboy falls for the boy-next-door in the years before World War I. Dir.: Roy Del Ruth Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, ["Smiling"] Jack Smith. Color. 95 min.
12:00 AM ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948). A singer on a Caribbean cruise gets mixed up in a series of romantic problems. Dir.: Michael Curtiz Cast: Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Don DeFore. Color. 99 min.
1:45 AM TEA FOR TWO (1950). An heiress has to say no to every question for 24 hours if she wants to star on Broadway. Dir.: David Butler Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Gene Nelson. Color. 98 min.
3:30 AM IT'S A GREAT FEELING (1949). When nobody at Warner Bros. will work with him, movie star Jack Carson decides to turn an unknown into his co-star. Dir.: David Butler Cast: Dennis Morgan, Doris Day, Jack Carson. Color. 85 min.
5:00 AM STARLIFT (1951). An actress and an air transport crewman fall in love in this star-studded salute to the Korean war. Dir.: Roy Del Ruth Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Virginia Mayo. Black and white. 103 min.