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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Doris Day: The Essential Collection
Doris Day: The Essential Collection
Warner Bros. // Unrated // April 7, 2015
List Price: $79.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 29, 2015 | E-mail the Author
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Doris Day - Essential Collection - DVD Review

Doris Day is a Hollywood legend. As a beloved and fan-favorite actress in the Hollywood studio system she managed to bring a unique personality, style, charisma, and talent to everything she was involved in. Her decidedly sweet nature on-screen helped to make her an "every-girl" icon who captured the imagination of moviegoers. A Day film was something usually comedic, fun, and filled with song and dance. A great deal of this was because of the star "it" factor which she brought to the table with these films. Her likeability was undeniable.

Joining Day is an array of other Hollywood greats working with the WB studio system. (Many actors of the time were under contractual obligation to appear in several productions for a studio so many of the same actors ended up working together amongst these productions). The other supporting stars included Jack Carson, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Edward G. Robinson, Eve Arden, James Cagney, David Niven, Jimmy Durante, Gene Nelson, and Gordon MacRae. Each performer brought their own charms and talents to these films. The work done by these supporting performers is also terrific and is a huge part of the reason why these efforts tended to be so enjoyable.

The director most frequently involved in making these Doris Day films was David Butler (Calamity Jane, It's a Great Feeling, Tea for Two, Lullaby of Broadway, April in Paris, By Light of the Silvery Moon). Butler made more productions in collaboration with Doris Day than any of the other directors she worked with and had a huge impact on the style of filmmaking Doris Day was known for as a star. While there were several screenwriters involved on these films, filmmakers like Butler provided a vision for what a Doris Day film looked like in motion.

The films share a lot in common stylistically and work cohesively to one another. There is a fine rhythm to the films that works well. The focus on the story, acting, songs, and dance numbers is well-divided and emphasized. Other directors of note include: Michael Curtiz (Romance on the High Seas, My Dream Is Yours) Stanley Donen & George Abbott (The Pajama Game), and Charles Walters (Please Don't Eat the Daisies, Billy Rose's Jumbo).

One of the reasons these films can be so enjoyable is the dance numbers. There are many scenes throughout the films in which characters break out into fantastic dance routines. From stunning standalone dances, to duets, and tap-dancing wonderment, these scenes add a fantastic element essential to these productions. The scenes were consistently well accompanied by terrific and entertaining dance numbers (with impressive performances delivered from Busby Berkeley to Bob Fosse and other legendary dancers).

The staging for the dance numbers was done by the supremely talented LeRoy Prinz, a prolific industry professional who helped to craft countless essential numbers for a variety of beloved Hollywood musicals (including those found within this collection). Whether with production aspects similar to theatrical performance or with a more cinematic approach, these moments create a lot of the rich wonderment that these films so beautifully manage. This aspect is undoubtedly one of the biggest factors in the success of these early Hollywood musical productions.

The films are visual wonders as well with great cinematography throughout the films as done by the superbly talented Wilfred M. Cline and Ernest Haller, both of whom worked on many of the films throughout the collection. They were collaborators and even when working apart on these films they provided these productions with exceptional quality photography. The work done is incredible. They really brought a lot of beautiful color and creativity to the table.

The music in these films was extraordinary and was a huge part of the reason these films were so much fun. There are so many classic tunes crafted by music greats like Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Sammy Cahn, Jule Styne, the Gershwins, and others. Many of these classic songs received great renditions throughout the films contained within this collection. The jubilant, exciting, and romantic musical renditions sound lovely. For fans of musicals this is one of the big draws of the set as it's such a nice assortment of classic tunes. Musical direction on the films in the set was by Ray Heindorf, who had a prolific career working in film music. The work done by Heindorf for these productions is an essential part to the overall success of these films.

While the collection contains a huge assortment of films starring Doris Day it's worth noting that there are some exclusions as well. Warner Bros contains the rights to most of her catalog and it seems disappointing that some of the other works she did with the studio are not included with this set. However, given the "Essential" moniker perhaps some films simply didn't make the cut. This is also simply a repackaged set of previously available standalone DVD releases.

Doris Day films tended to include great song, dance, and charm. For fans of the great Hollywood actress this set is certain to be a worthy addition to one's collection. The release is packed with an impressive array of classics (and overlooked gems). The set includes her debut performance with Romance on the High Seas (1948) and includes many of her films up through The Glass Bottom Boat (1966).

The "Doris Day: Essential Collection" contains the following films: Romance on the High Seas (1948), My Dream Is Yours (1949), It's A Great Feeling (1949), Tea For Two (1950), Lullaby of Broadway (1951), On Moonlight Bay (1951), April in Paris (1952), By The Light of the Silverly Moon (1953) (Sequel to On Moonlight Bay), Calamity Jane (1953), Lucky Me (1954), Love Me Or Leave Me (1955), The Pajama Game (1957), Please Don't Eat The Daisies (1960), Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962), and The Glass Bottom Boat (1966).

The DVD:


Video:

The Doris Day: Essential Collection contains a number of beloved favorites from the iconic Hollywood star in one set. Each film is presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio. This means that most of the films in the set are presented in 1.33:1 (full frame). The transfers are generally solid throughout and demonstrate high quality video.

A select few presentations are in widescreen (which also preserves the original theatrical aspect ratio): The Pajama Game (which is also included as a modified full-frame version), Lucky Me, Love Me or Leave Me, Billy Rose's Jumbo, and The Glass Bottom Boat. All of the widescreen presentations in this set feature anamorphic widescreen enhancement. 

There are a couple of minor instances of color reproduction problems in a few films and there is occasional softness on some of the presentations. However, most viewers will find that most of these presentations are high quality with excellent color, detail, clarity, and print quality. WB used dual-layered discs as well for the bulk of the films. The presentations are pretty good quality for standard definition. Fans will be pleased by the high quality of this collection.

Audio:

With a few exceptions, the films in the Doris Day collection are presented with their original English mono audio. For the bulk of the presentations this means a one-speaker sound setup replicating the original sound design. The fidelity of the audio isn't too impressive but on the bright side the dialogue clarity is excellent. Music sounds reasonably good given the age of the source material. A select few films are available with 5.1 surround sound presentations: Lucky Me, Love Me or Leave Me, and Billy Rose's Jumbo.

English SDH subtitles (for the deaf and hard of hearing) are available (for the main features only). Select films in the collection are presented with optional French or Spanish subtitles. Select films contain French dubbed audio.

 Extras:

Romance on the High Seas (1948)

Special Features: Vintage Musical Short Let's Sing a Song from the Movies (10:41), Classic Cartoon I Taw a Putty Tat (6:24), Theatrical Trailer

My Dream is Yours (1949)

Special Features: Vintage Joe McDoakes Comedy Short So You Want to Be an Actor (10:54), Oscar-Nominated Drama Short The Grass is Always Greener (21:22), Classic Cartoon A Ham in a Role (6:48), Theatrical Trailer

It's a Great Feeling (1949)

Special Features: Oscar-Nominated Sports Review Short Spills and Chills (10:23), Studio Blooper Reel Breakdown of 1949 (10:23), Classic Cartoon Bear Feat (6:53), Theatrical Trailer

Tea for Two (1950)

Special Features: Joe McDoakes Comedy Short So You Want to Hold Your Husband (10:51), Classic Cartoon Tee for Two (7:03), 2 No-No Nanette Audio-Only Bonuses: Radio Show with Day and MacRae and the Lost 1930 Movie Version's Overture from the Surviving Vitaphone Discs (6:52), Theatrical Trailer

Lullaby of Broadway (1951)

Special Features: Doris Day Trailer Gallery

On Moonlight Bay (1951)

Special Features: Vintage Musical Short Let's Sing About the Moonlight (9:24), Classic Cartoon A Hound for Trouble (7:07), Theatrical Trailer

April in Paris (1952)

Special Features: Joe McDoakes Comedy Short So You Want to Wear the Pants (10:46), Classic Cartoon Terrier Stricken (6:52), Theatrical Trailer

By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)

Special Features: Vintage Joe McDoakes Comedy Shorts So You Want to Learn How to Dance (10:50) and So You Want a Television Set (10:02), Oscar-Nominated Cartoon From A to Z-Z-Z-Z (7:06), Theatrical Trailer

Calamity Jane (1953)

Special Features: Premiere and Awards Newsreels: "Western Style Premiere Newsreel" (44) and "Photoplay Magazine Film Awards Newsreel (:51), "Cast and Crew" and "Behind the Scenes" Text Features, Theatrical Trailer

Lucky Me (1954)

Special Features: Vintage Short When the Talkies Were Young (20:22), Oscar-Nominated Cartoon Sandy Claws (7:10), Theatrical Trailer

Love Me or Leave Me (1955)

Special Features: 3 Vintage Shorts, the First Two with Ruth Etting: A Modern Cinderella (17:22), Roseland (12:12), and A Salute to the Theatres (17:07), Theatrical Trailer

The Pajama Game (1957)

Special Features: Deleted Song "The Man Who Invented Love" (3:03), "Cast and Crew" and "Pajama Party" Text Features, Theatrical Trailer

Please Don't Eat the Daisies
(1960)

Special Features: Theatrical Trailer

Billy Rose's Jumbo (1962)

Special Features: Musical Short Yours Sincerely (19:35), Tom and Jerry Cartoon Jerry and Jumbo (7:06), Original Overture, Theatrical Trailer

The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Special Features: 3 Vintage Featurettes: Catalina Island (5:18), Every Girl's Dream (8:43), and NASA (5:23), Oscar-Winning Cartoon The Dot and the Line (10:03), Theatrical Trailer

Final Thoughts:

First of all: the packaging on this collection presents two jumbo clear DVD cases with beautiful cover designs, inside art on the covers, and a nicely designed slip-box to house both sets in this collection. Fans will be pleased.

Fans of Doris Day who do not already own the previously released DVD's contained in this set will be thrilled by the overall quality of this DVD collection. The films can be hit and miss on occasion but each effort tends to be entertaining. This collection is also a musical fan's dream: almost every film in the set features enjoyable song and dance numbers. Presentations are solid throughout.

The Doris Day: Essential Collection contains a plethora of beloved classic films starring one of Hollywood's biggest and best stars. Unless you already own many (most?) of the films on DVD already this set is one well worth owning. This release is an amazing overview of Day's career. Fans of Day should strongly consider adding this set to their collection.  

Highly Recommended.

Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema, and a student who aspires to make movies. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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