Carole Lombard made one movie with Bing Crosby, the 1934 Paramount musical "We're Not Dressing," and was an avid fan of his music. But imagine if Lombard -- who really wasn't much of a singer -- had somehow possessed Crosby's musical talent, in addition to her cinematic skill and dazzling beauty? What would she have been like?
A decade or so after Carole's premature passing, we learned the answer:
I've long viewed Doris Day as the feminine equivalent to Crosby -- an incredibly talented vocalist who achieved even greater success in movies than music, and deservedly so. The lady excelled in both fields.
She celebrates her 88th birthday this week, and Turner Classic Movies is honoring her by making her its star of the month. It's a bit different from the usual format, though: Doris will be honored throughout the week, as TCM shows 28 of her films, most during primetime, through Friday.
Things kick off at 8 p.m. (Eastern) with seven of Day's early musicals, beginning with 1951's "Lullaby Of Broadway" (above), as well as "On Moonlight Bay" and her first film, "Romance On The High Seas." Doris had been a dancer until an injury forced her to focus on singing, but after gaining fame with Les Brown's band in the '40s, she was fully healed.
On Tuesday, the spotlight is on Day's early '60s comedies, including the opener that night, "Lover Come Back" (1961). Doris has long been saddled with the "virgin" tag for these films, which is utter nonsense; her characters are funny, sexy and most are intelligent career women. Doris Day was a Mary Richards type before Mary Tyler Moore was even Laura Petrie.
Wednesday, see the dramatic side of Day, beginning with 1960's "Midnight Lace." You don't think of Doris and drama, but she made a few of them and for the most part comes off well.
It's back to comedy Thursday night -- five of them, in fact -- starting with another 1960 film, the delightful "Please Don't Eat The Daisies," a homage to suburban life with Day and David Niven. That will be followed by "The Thrill Of It All," pairing Doris with the always engaging James Garner.
One of Day's finest films, 1955's "Love Me Or Leave Me," opens Friday's schedule. This not-always accurate biopic of singer Ruth Etting also features a terrific performance from James Cagney as her abusive mob husband, Marty Snyder...and of course, Doris performs several of Etting's signature songs.
It's a splendid lineup, even though some notable films are missing -- 1953's "Calamity Jane," 1956's "The Man Who Knew Too Much" with James Stewart and 1958's smart "Teacher's Pet" with Clark Gable, to name three. See the complete list at http://www.tcm.com/this-month/article/474003|93517/Doris-Day-Profile.html.
I have no doubt that had Lombard lived, she would have liked Doris Day. Both were active, likable and fond of animals.
For a Star of the Month promotion with recent comments from Day herself, visit http://www.tcm.com/mediaroom/video/482377/Doris-Day-Star-Of-The-Month-Movie-Promo-April-2012.html.
Tourney update: Things aren't looking good for Lombard; as of 3:30 p.m. (Eastern), she trails Ginger Rogers 126-87 in the Silents/1930s finals of the 2012 Favorite Classic Movie Actress Tourney. If you haven't voted yet, do so -- and do it now, since the polls close at 10 p.m. Go to http://mythicalmonkey.blogspot.com, and let's see if Carole can pull off a late rally.