Calamity Jane

When Oscar Levant quipped that he knew Doris Day before she was a virgin, he was referring to her pre-PILLOW TALK career in effervescent Warner Brothers musicals like this one. The rough-and-tumble Black Hills of Dakota are buzzing with news about the scheduled appearance of songbird Adelaide Adams (Gale Robbins). When Wild Bill Hickock (Howard Keel) attributes...read more

Reviewed by Robert Pardi
Rating:

When Oscar Levant quipped that he knew Doris Day before she was a virgin, he was referring to her pre-PILLOW TALK career in effervescent Warner Brothers musicals like this one. The rough-and-tumble Black Hills of Dakota are buzzing with news about the scheduled appearance of songbird Adelaide Adams (Gale Robbins). When Wild Bill Hickock (Howard Keel) attributes the rumor to his pal Calamity Jane's (Day) idle boasting, the buckskin-clad Jane boards the Chicago-bound stage from Deadwood. Soignee Adams, who's already booked on a European tour, bequeaths her wardrobe to her stagestruck maid, Katie (Allyn Ann McLerie), who nurses her own showbiz aspirations and takes advantage of Calamity Jane's assumption that she's the celebrity songbird. All hell breaks loose when Katie loses her confidence on stage and fails to fool the patrons of the Golden Garter Saloon. Having lost his bet with Calamity Jane under false pretenses, Wild Bill is furious. Fortunately, Lt. Danny Gilmartin (Phil Carey) intercedes on Katie's behalf, and Calamity is glad the townsfolk are willing to give her singing discovery a second chance. Starved for entertainment, the galoots soon prefer their handpicked warbler to the internationally renowned Miss Adams. Both Danny — on whom Calamity has a secret crush — and Will Bill develop feelings for the ultra-feminine Katie; Katie generously treats the mannish-looking Calamity to a make-over, but she's already mad at Katie for man-poaching and threatens her Katie at a social event. Bill, still angry at Calamity, takes her down a few pegs by helping Katie win a sharp-shooting competition. But Will Bill has also noticed that Calamity is hiding her womanly light under a bushel: Maybe it's Wild Bill, not Danny, who's the "Secret Love" for whom Calamity has been pining. Even if the screenwriters were obviously inspired by the mega-success of ANNIE GET YOUR GUN, that doesn't make this funny, rambunctious entertainment a mere rip-off. Whether dancing, singing, or hamming it up as the legendary tomboy, Day proves that she was second only to Judy Garland as the Golden-Age Hollywood Musical's consummate triple threat.

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