Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Calamity Jane (1953)

When a saloon in Deadwood discovers the pretty Francis Fryer of New York they booked isn’t actually a pretty woman, but in fact a dude (and not a very pretty one), the boastful Calamity Jane (Doris Day) promises to bring in the famous Adelaid Adams. She travels to Chicagie but mistakenly brings back Adelaid’s assistant instead.

The story is really just a framework for the music and Rom-Com story. Howard Keel played Wild Bill Hickok as one possible romantic partner. Of course the cute-as-a-button Doris Day plays the butch Calamity Jane, because a real tomboy would have been out of the question.

This is the first Day picture I’ve done for this project, not because of any disrespect, but because her typical uptempo fluff falls outside of my typical interest. That said, I do find myself appreciating fluff for what it is. And what it is isn’t too bad. Day’s numbers are rather good and she is downright charming.

So, who was Calamity Jane in real life? First, let’s begin with Buffalo Bill. William Cody spent time in the old west and in later years profited by exploiting the public’s fascination with the subject. One of his acts was Martha Jane Cannary, a woman whose claim to fame was exaggerating her association with Wild Bill Hickok, a man who was genuinely famous for exaggerated his life stories. Anyhow, Martha called herself Calamity Jane and told stories, before dying in a drunken stupor at fifty one.

You cannot fault Calamity Jane for being historically inaccurate. Martha Jane herself made up everything she didn't exaggerate, and the film even played up her exaggerations. This here is nothing more than yet another fanciful retelling of a decidedly invented story. And not too bad of one. AMRU 3.5.
“Oh, that’s female thinkin’. And nothing’ll get you into more trouble.”

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