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Doris Day's third movie, It's a Great Feeling (1949), has a plot that echoes Day's real-life situation a year earlier. Discouraged by her lack of success in landing a movie role, Day had her bags packed for a return to her hometown of Cincinnati when she received word that she had landed a starring part in her first film, Romance on the High Seas (1948). In It's a Great Feeling Day's character, would-be movie star Judy Adams, is similarly disillusioned with Hollywood and set to return to Gurkey's Corners, Wisconsin -- the difference being that Judy follows through on her threat and goes back to marry her hometown sweetheart, while Doris lingered in Hollywood to become one of the movies' genuine superstars.
It's a Great Feeling, a musical satire of the movie business in general and Warner Bros. studios in particular, was the brainchild of screenwriter I.A.L. Diamond, later to win fame as Billy Wilder's chief collaborator. Frequent costars Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson play themselves, and the movie's conceit is that Carson is such an egomaniac that no director or leading lady wants to work with him on the actor's next film. This provides an excuse for rare cameo appearances by Warner's stable of directors including David Butler (the director of It's a Great Feeling), Michael Curtiz (director of Romance on the High Seas), King Vidor and Raoul Walsh. Adding to the authentic (if exaggerated) atmosphere are many views of the studio lot, plus creatively scripted appearances by Warner stars Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Sydney Greenstreet, Danny Kaye, Patricia Neal, Eleanor Parker, Ronald Reagan, Edward G. Robinson and Jane Wyman. Day's songs in the film include "At the Cafe Rendezvous," "That Was a Big Fat Lie," "Blame My Absent-Minded Heart" and the title tune, which won an Oscar nomination as Best Song.
Day plays a waitress in the Warner commissary who is, of course, a natural for the spot as Morgan and Carson's leading lady. When the two male stars try to outdo each other in vying for her affections, she gets fed up and returns to marry good old Jeffrey Bushfinkle -- who just happens to look a lot like Warner's star Errol Flynn! Day wrote in her autobiography that the "great ending," as the happy couple turn to face the camera and the groom is revealed as Flynn, was for her the movie's most memorable moment.
Day also wrote that she owed a huge debt of gratitude to Jack Carson, who acted with her in her first three movies, which also included My Dream Is Yours (1949). "He helped me enormously with my technical indoctrination into movie acting," she wrote. "He taught me dozens of tricks about how to move to precise camera marks without actually looking for them, how to handle myself in close-ups so that my face or profile rather than the back of my head would be in a shot, how to sustain the evenness of a performed scene.... Since we were also going together, we'd often discuss some of these things in the evening, and there's no doubt that my relationship with Jack helped me considerably in my early going."
Producer: Alex Gottlieb
Director: David Butler
Screenplay: Jack Rose, Mel Shavelson, from story by I.A.L. Diamond
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Art Direction: Stanley Fleischer
Original Music: Jule Styne, Howard Jackson (uncredited)
Editing: Irene Morra
Costume Design: Milo Anderson
Principal Cast: Dennis Morgan (Himself), Doris Day (Judy Adams), Jack Carson (Himself), Bill Goodwin (Arthur Trent), Irving Bacon (RR Information Clerk). Uncredited Guest Appearances: David Butler, Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Michael Curtiz, Sydney Greenstreet, Ray Heindorf, Danny Kaye, Patricia Neal, Eleanor Parker, Ronald Reagan, Edward G. Robinson, King Vidor, Raoul Walsh, Jane Wyman.
by Roger Fristoe