December 7, 2011

Do Not Disturb (1965)

America's sweetheart and '60s silver screen darling Doris Day, now 87,  just came out with a new album entitled My Heart, her first in 17 years. The album is dedicated to her late son in his memory.[1] "These are the tunes that reflect my love of animals, my love for my son. They're the dearest things to my heart," she explains.[2]

I adore Doris Day and her films never fail to lift my spirits and make me laugh. My favorite quote about her was by Oscar Levant who famously quipped, "I'm so old, I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin!" This was a reference to the tendency of her characters to have been chaste, naive, clumsy and school-girlish, even in situations where they were married.

My favorite films of hers include The Glass Bottom Boat (1966), Pillow Talk (1959), It Happened to Jane (1959), and Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960) but I figured I'd pull out a lesser known film of hers to showcase here. Do Not Disturb (1965) takes it all across the pond to England, where married couple Janet (Day) and Mike Harper (Rod Taylor) must relocate after Mike's company transferred him to London.

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So here's the brief synopsis: After moving to England, Janet and Mike Harper rent a house in the English countryside, which Janet promptly sets to redecorating. Meanwhile Mike spends most of his time working at his London office, surrounded by beautiful women and attending lavish parties thrown by his boss. Feeling alone and neglected, Janet flirts with the handsome antique dealer Paul (Sergio Fantoni) whom she hires to help her redecorate the house. They fly to Paris to check out an antique table and while dining at a bistro, Janet gets a little too drunk and passes out. Paul then takes her back to his office, where they accidentally get locked in for the night. Mike hears of the trip, immediately takes the next flight to Paris, and predictably, discovers the two together. Arguments and threats of divorce ensue! Hilarity abounds.

Now - the fashion!

Is that a classic quilted Chanel handbag? Methinks it could be! Also, I think gloves need to make a come-back.
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Love this brown leather tote with the center buckle.
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White peacoat with orange sequin dress underneath.
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Adorable ivory cape-coat lined in brown fabric with white polka dots. The bowler hat is cute too.
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More white. Love how she wore the scarf "backwards". 
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That aubergine outfit (center) is delicious.
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Awkwardly tall hats seemed to have been quite fashionable back in the day...
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Brown and green tweed with plaid. How English.
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Sometimes I'd like to fantasize ending up like Iris Apfel in my old age, adorned with big colourful necklaces and bracelets and draped in luxurious silks, and becoming the embodiment of an eccentric grand dame. But chances are, I will probably end up like this, clad in boring brown tweed, clumsily balancing no less than three cameras and five newspapers while attempting to make a point that matters to no one except meself:

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Also, having just returned from Beijing, it would be wrong of me not to notice this pretty chinoiserie print screen.
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So if you're in the mood for a light-hearted romantic comedy, look no further than Doris Day's arsenal of films. When I suggested this to a friend of mine recently, she wrinkled her nose in protest. "I don't get why other people think she was so great. She wasn't even that pretty and her characters' were always so clumsy and annoying." Her comment made me remember that I felt similarly "confused" many years ago, when I first chanced upon her movies during a TCM marathon. The first movie I saw her in was That Touch of Mink (1962), where Day's character spent the whole time desperately perserving her virginity from the seductive claws of Cary Grant, a premise which I considered dispiriting nonsense since she just looked way too old to play a virgin.  I remember thinking to myself "Who is this average looking, rough-around-the edges woman who keeps starring alongside dashing leading men? Why would Cary Grant's character be interested in her and not in a starlet like Ann-Margret instead?" Furthermore, my narrow-minded 12-year old self at the time lumped all "classic" actresses together under the requirement that they had to be breathtakingly beautiful, alluring, graceful and charismatic in the manner of Marlene Dietrich, Ava Gardner, Rita Hayworth, Audrey Hepburn, etc. Reared on the dramas of the '30s-40s, I actually got uncomfortable watching an actress blunder uncoordinatedly through a movie, repeatedly making all sorts of humiliating and awkward social gaffes, like the way Doris Days' characters frequently did. My adolescent self, who spent her spare hours pouring over Vogue and idolizing elegance, was so embarrassed for her. These were not the kinds of characters that I wanted to model myself after and thus, promptly dismissed her films as ridiculous and unworthy.

But then I grew up! matured, expanded my film watching repertoire, learned more about Doris Day, and a decade later, revisited her films with fresh eyes and quickly developed a newfound appreciation for their entertainment value. Now I absolutely adore her and her movies. My adoration further deepened after I discovered that her real life stood in stark contrast to her squeaky clean, all-American, girl-next-door image. Unlike her characters who always ended up in happily-ever-after relationships, the men in Day's personal life were not quite so pleasant. Among them included one who physically abused her and another ran off with her money and left her bankrupt. [3] Day's real life was messy, complicated and traumatic so the cheerful innocence of her characters took on even greater significance for me: that despite everything, she still managed to maintain that determinedly sunshine-y and upbeat of a public image was nothing less than a monumental feat. I watch her movies now with a certain sympathy--even the occasional empathy--but also a kind of gratitude for their slapstick and silliness, which never fail to make me smile. And sometimes, a girl just needs a good laugh, or a roaring guffaw.

10 comments:

hm, is jennifer aniston the reigning doris day? in terms of their overall screen persona?

For a very long time, I didn't begin to "get" the attraction of Doris Day either. Neither did I think anything of Jerry Lewis, then one day in my 20s I started laughing at them--not to mention there's some great cinematography and sets in his post Dean Martin films. And I later appreciated his dark comedy. Whereas my 180 degree turn around on Jerry Lewis happened overnight, "getting" Doris Day was a much longer process. What I had at first found fingernails-on-the-chalkboard annoying, cloying and bizarre, I slowly began to appreciate for the comedy that it was. Then one day it hit me, "Wow, this woman can act! She's wonderful!" Have begun catching some of her older films. Love "Pajama Game". I recently saw "Tea for Two" for the first time, and was enthralled. Some really fun, fine acting and dancing, incredible costumes. And great credits.

haven't gotten to this one yet. the fashion looks fun!

I've always adored Doris Day. I just watched her with Rock Hudson in a movie, "Lover Come Back" (1961) and couldn't get over how pretty she was and how beautiful she looked in all of the fantastic fashions. You know she started out as a dancer until she was injured in an accident. Then to go on to be a movie star and singer. Thanks for showcasing this talented lady.

Oh I love Doris Day! Haven't seen this movie so it'll go on my list. Thanks for the heads up :D

I enjoyed this post! I'm sure I've seen most of Doris Day's movies, and I'm certainly a fan, but I don't know if I've seen this one. Even though it's not quite one of "her" movies, I really like her in "The Man Who Knew Too Much." When I see it, "Que Sera, Sera" is stuck in my head for days!

Oh, I've been a long time Doris Day fan. Her movies were always on weekend TV when I was growing up. I mourn how kids of today won't have that source of just naturally happening upon old movies like that. Today, you have to put in some work to see them. Have you seen her in Calamity Jane? It's one of my favorites.

belledame - Yeah! I can definitely see the similarities btw Aniston and Day's characters but I like how Day's were less whiny.

jk - "fingernails-on-the-chalkboard annoying, cloying and bizarre" = hahaha! what a great description and I can totally relate to feeling that way too. i didn't do an immediate 180 on her either. my appreciation for her was also very gradual but once i "got it," i got it!

mr jeffery yeah! i would love to have some of those coats!

sandy ooh, right! yeah! i remember reading somewhere about her original dancing aspirations. oh, doris day...such a multi-talent!

allie.duckienz - i hope you enjoy it!

hausfraus - I liked her in The Man Who Knew Too Much as well! And I agree, her rendition of "Que Sera, Sera" in that movie was really memorable.

isaspacey Oh, I haven't seen Calamity Jane! Thanks for the recommendation. I'll put it on my list. Yeah, it's really too bad that kids today don't get the chance to stumble upon old movies on TV as serendipitously. :( They're missing out on so many wonderful wonderful moments of screen magic!

Doris Day was the first celebrity that I saw in person. I was only 8 years old and she sat behind my family at a baseball game. I've been kind of obsessed with her ever since! I remember that she had lots of freckles, which still makes me happy when I think about it.

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