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Doris Day Movies: Calamity Jane Gay or Straight?

Doris Day Calamity Jane: Gay or straight?
Doris Day in Calamity Jane: Gay or straight? In David Butler’s enjoyable musical Western, Day is equally intrigued by chorus girl Allyn McLerie and macho Westerner Howard Keel. She also gets to sing the – in the eyes of some, “gay-undertoned” – Oscar-winning song “Secret Love.”

Doris Day movies: ‘Calamity Jane’ & ‘It’s a Great Feeling’

Ramon Novarro biography Beyond Paradise

Doris Day, who turned 89 last April 3, is Turner Classic Movies’ 2013 “Summer Under the Stars” star on Friday, Aug. 2. (Doris Day, by the way, still looks great. Check out “Doris Day Today.”)

Doris Day movies, of course, are frequently shown on TCM. Why? Well, TCM is owned by the mega-conglomerate which also happens to own (among myriad other things) the Warner Bros. film library, which includes not only the Doris Day movies made at Warners from 1948 to 1955, but also Day’s MGM films as well (and the overwhelming majority of MGM releases up to 1986). My point: Don’t expect any Doris Day movie rarity on Friday – in fact, I don’t think such a thing exists.

Doris Day is ‘Calamity Jane’

If you haven’t watched David Butler’s musical Western Calamity Jane (1953), in which Doris Day has the title role, it’s time you did. Day’s Calamity Jane is nothing more than Doris Day dressed up in Daniel Boone garb, but who cares? Seldom has a movie been so perfect a showcase for a performer of Day’s caliber – Annie Get Your Gun, starring Betty Hutton as another show-stopping female Westerner, Annie Oakley, comes to mind – and Day fully rises to the occasion, bursting with energy and exuberance while hopping about in men’s clothes, getting into fights, and belting out songs by Paul Francis Webster and Sammy Fain. Heck, Douglas Fairbanks and Burt Lancaster would have collapsed halfway into the movie.

As a plus, Calamity Jane offers loads of suspense: Who does Doris Day’s Calamity Jane truly love? Howard Keel’s Wild Bill Hickok? Philip Carey’s Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin? Or Allyn McLerie’s stage performer Katie Brown? The song “Secret Love,” deservedly won the 1953 Academy Award, and it has since become a sort of (American) gay anthem – something Doris Day finds “wonderful.”

I should add that Calamity Jane was cleverly written by James O’Hanlon, whose movie credits include the Judy Garland musical The Harvey Girls and another Doris Day movie TCM will be showing on Friday, the weak comedy-musical Lucky Me (1954).

More Doris Day movies

Other Doris Day movies worth (re-)checking out are the nostalgic light musicals On Moonlight Bay (1951) and By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953), both co-starring handsome Gordon MacRae; Charles Vidor’s dramatic Love Me or Leave Me (1955), with Day as torch singer Ruth Etting, and Best Actor Academy Award nominee James Cagney and Cameron Mitchell as the men in her life; and, just to go Ah! That’s Eleanor Parker! Eh! That’s Edward G. Robinson! Ih! Where the hell are Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, and Bette Davis?, don’t miss David Butler’s ain’t-Hollywood-grand comedy It’s a Great Feeling (1949), with Doris Day as a newcomer selected to become the leading lady of difficult Warner Bros. star Jack Carson.

One thing that’s particularly interesting about It’s a Great Feeling is that the movie features cameos not only by movie stars, but also by filmmakers: King Vidor (The Crowd, Duel in the Sun), Raoul Walsh (High Sierra, White Heat), Michael Curtiz (Casablanca, Mildred Pierce), and David Butler himself.

And finally, if the IMDb is to be believed, TCM’s “Summer Under the Stars” Doris Day Day viewers will also be able to go Ick! That’s Vampira! while watching Romance on the High Seas (1948). As per the IMDb, she plays a (regular-looking) ship passenger.

Doris Day movies: TCM schedule (PT) on August 2, 2013

3:00 AM ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS (1948). Director: Michael Curtiz and Busby Berkeley. Cast: Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Don DeFore, Doris Day, Oscar Levant, S.Z. Sakall, Fortunio Bonanova, Eric Blore, Leslie Brooks, Franklin Pangborn, William Bakewell, Page Cavanaugh, The Samba Kings, Barbara Bates, Gino Corrado, Grady Sutton, Vampira. Color. 99 min.

4:45 AM MY DREAM IS YOURS (1949). Director: Michael Curtiz. Cast: Jack Carson, Doris Day, Lee Bowman, Adolphe Menjou, Eve Arden, S.Z. Sakall, Selena Royle, Edgar Kennedy, Sheldon Leonard, Franklin Pangborn, John Berkes, Mel Blanc, Iris Adrian. Color. 101 min.

6:30 AM IT’S A GREAT FEELING (1949). Director: David Butler. Cast: Dennis Morgan, Doris Day, Jack Carson, Bill Goodwin, Irving Bacon, Claire Carleton, Mel Blanc, David Butler, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Michael Curtiz, Errol Flynn, Sydney Greenstreet, Danny Kaye, Patricia Neal, Eleanor Parker, Ronald Reagan, Edward G. Robinson, King Vidor, Raoul Walsh, Jane Wyman, Pat Flaherty, Bess Flowers, Jacqueline deWit, Franklyn Farnum. Color. 85 min.

8:00 AM LULLABY OF BROADWAY (1951). Director: David Butler. Cast: Doris Day, Gene Nelson, S.Z. Sakall, Billy De Wolfe, Gladys George, Florence Bates, Anne Triola, Page Cavanaugh, Franklyn Farnum, Barry Norton, . Color. 92 min.

9:45 AM ON MOONLIGHT BAY (1951). Director: Roy Del Ruth. Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Jack Smith, Leon Ames, Rosemary DeCamp, Mary Wickes, Ellen Corby, Henry East, Billy Gray, Jeffrey Stevens, Eddie Marr, Sig Arno, Esther Dale, Creighton Hale, Hank Mann. Color. 95 min.

11:30 AM BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON (1953). Director: David Butler. Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Leon Ames. Color. 102 min.

1:15 PM LUCKY ME (1954). Director: Jack Donohue. Cast: Doris Day, Robert Cummings, Phil Silvers. Color. 101 mins. Letterbox Format.

3:00 PM IT HAPPENED TO JANE (1959). Director: Richard Quine. Cast: Doris Day, Jack Lemmon, Ernie Kovacs. Color. 98 min.

4:45 PM CARSON ON TCM: DORIS DAY (1/16/76). (2013). TCM presents a classic interview from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson and Doris Day. Color. 10 min.

5:00 PM CALAMITY JANE (1953). Director: David Butler. Cast: Doris Day, Howard Keel, Allyn McLerie, Philip Carey. Color. 101 min.

7:00 PM PLEASE DON’T EAT THE DAISIES (1960). Director: Charles Walters. Cast: Doris Day, David Niven, Janis Paige. Color. 111 mins. Letterbox Format.

9:00 PM THE GLASS BOTTOM BOAT (1966). Director: Frank Tashlin. Cast: Doris Day, Rod Taylor, Arthur Godfrey. Color. 110 mins. Letterbox Format.

11:00 PM TEA FOR TWO (1950). Director: David Butler. Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Gene Nelson, Eve Arden, Billy De Wolfe, S.Z. Sakall, Bill Goodwin, Patrice Wymore, Virginia Gibson, George Baxter, Carol Coombs, Pat Flaherty, Crauford Kent. Color. 98 min.

12:45 AM LOVE ME OR LEAVE ME (1955). Director: Charles Vidor. Cast: Doris Day, James Cagney, Cameron Mitchell. Color. 122 mins. Letterbox Format.

Doris Day movie schedule via the TCM website. Doris Day Calamity Jane publicity shot: Warner Bros.

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B Burnweit -

Most people would never think of it as a gay themed film. But the truth is DD’s character is a closeted homosexual, as most of the gays in the 1950’s, living as happy a life as possible without proclaiming it the world. The song, Secret Love, shares a theme common to every gay person who’s searching for that special someone. “Now I shout it from the highest hill!”

Of course, once its clear that she will not be accepted by Katie, she does the “right thing”, and returns to her closeted life and marries her best buddy Bill.

Alistair De Costa -

Oh my God thank you for this article. I love DDay and I really enjoyed reading your article, thank you

Mitchell Kade (@kade6767) -

Who does she love? Katie Brown? Hardly. That should not even be in question. And you wrote, “Doris Day dressed up in Daniel Boone garb, but who cares?” Well, it’s not just Doris Day dressed up in men’s clothing. Calamity Jane (Martha Jane Canary) was a real person. She was more of a tomboy. She was not a very attractive woman, even during her youth. Of course as she aged she lost whatever youthful good looks she might have had. This film is not just another musical but offers some actual facts about Calamity Jane. She was rather obsessed with Bill Hickok. As far as why Doris Day movies are on a classic movie channel should be self-explanatory and has nothing to do with who owns them. There are several of her movies, as well as other classic actors whose movies are a rarity for even TCM and are not shown as much. Some films you might only see on their schedule once a year.

Andre -


I thought my Katie Brown joke was pretty obvious, but maybe not…

And you’re wrong re: the showing of Doris Day movies having nothing to do with which conglomerate owns the classic movie channel in question. If Turner Classic Movies belonged to NBC-Universal, you’d be watching precious little pre-1955 Doris Day, and lots of Betty Hutton and Dorothy Lamour (rarities on TCM).


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