Today we celebrate the 90th birthday of the legendary Doris Day, an actress and singer beloved by the public for seven decades. After getting her start as a big band singer in 1939, she was able to parlay her success in music into a Hollywood career that lasted twenty years, then transitioning to TV for “The Doris Day Show” (1968-1973). Perhaps most notably, in the years 1960 and 1962-1964, she was America’s #1 box office star, an accomplishment unrivaled by any other leading lady. In honor of this great lady’s milestone anniversary, let’s look at clips from four of my favorite Doris Day performances that combine film and music.
Romance on the High Seas (1948) – At the end of this fun musical comedy, which was Doris’s film debut, she sings “It’s Magic,” a song which had been written for the film and which became a standard of popular music in the 40s and 50s. The Technicolor makes the scene especially bright and lovely.
Young Man with a Horn (1950) – In this brief scene, Doris charmingly sings “I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful),” contrasting her affability with the sourpuss played by Lauren Bacall.
The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) – Doris sings “Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera),” which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song. In typical Hitchcock fashion there are many layers to the scene; Doris’s character is singing for reasons related to the kidnapping of her son.
Lover Come Back (1961) – This is my personal favorite Doris Day movie. This scene, in which she wonders “should I surrender?” to the soundtrack of her recording of that song, is particularly effective because she has to convey all of those emotions without actually saying them out loud through dialogue.
Bonus: This isn’t a Doris Day movie, but her 1964 version of the song “Perhaps, Perhaps, Perhaps” is used in this excellent scene from Baz Luhrmann’s Strictly Ballroom (1992). Even in a movie made decades after Doris’s recording and in a country far away from America (Australia), the love of her music and her personality has endured.