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For its elaborate musical comedy Romance on the High Seas (1948), Warner Bros. had arranged to borrow Judy Garland from MGM. When Garland proved unavailable, the next choice was Paramount’s Betty Hutton -- who was forced to drop out at the last minute because she was pregnant. Desperate for a replacement as production was scheduled to begin, the film’s songwriters, Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, happened to hear a young band singer named Doris Day singing at a Hollywood party. At the urging of Styne and Cahn, Day reluctantly agreed to audition for the movie’s director, Michael Curtiz.
At 23, Day already had become a recording star thanks to her million-selling "Sentimental Journey," and had worked with Les Brown, Bob Hope and Frank Sinatra. She was at an unhappy point in her personal life, having divorced a violent first husband and separated from a second, and had become discouraged with her chances at film work. With her small son, Terry, she was planning to abandon Hollywood and return to her hometown of Cincinnati when she showed up for the meeting with Curtiz. According to Day biographer Eric Braun, she arrived without having made any special effort about her appearance and, midway through her audition song, "Embraceable You," burst into tears. When Cahn took her aside and explained that Curtiz was looking for a Betty Hutton type, someone who sang and bounced around, Day replied, "I don’t bounce around. I just sing." To her utter astonishment, Curtiz -- impressed with her honesty and obvious talent -- offered her the role on the spot.
In the movie, Day plays a struggling nightclub singer who poses as a wealthy socialite on a South American cruise so the real socialite (Janis Paige) can stay home to spy on her husband (Don DeFore). Also on hand is Jack Carson, who befriended Day in real life and taught her tricks of the trade of movie acting. Despite her inexperience in film, Day delivered with such confidence and natural effervescence that audiences everywhere fell in love and a major movie star was born. Warner Bros. now had its own musical leading lady with no need to borrow from other studios. "It’s Magic," the Oscar-nominated song from the film, proved another huge hit for Day and became one of her signature tunes. The movie also was nominated for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture.
Producers: Michael Curtiz, Alex Gottlieb
Director: Michael Curtiz
Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, I.A.L. Diamond, from story "Romance in High C" by Carlos A. Olivari and Sixto Pondal Rios
Cinematography: Elwood Bredell
Art Direction: Anton Grot
Original Music: Ray Heindorf, Jule Styne, Sammy Cahn, Oscar Levant
Editing: Rudi Fehr
Costume Design: Milo Anderson
Principal Cast: Jack Carson (Peter Virgil), Janis Paige (Elvira Kent), Don DeFore (Michael Kent), Doris Day (Georgia Garrett), Oscar Levant (Oscar Farrar), S.Z. Sakall (Uncle Lazlo), Fortunio Bonanova (Plinio).
C-100m. Closed captioning.
by Roger Fristoe