What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Romance On The High Seas (1948)

Now we’re back again for the 1948 musical Romance On The High Seas, starring Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Don DeFore and Doris Day! But before I get into the main review, I have a poll for you (that will run for one week), and I’ll explain right after:

So, for those that don’t know me well enough (or follow my FB page), I’m usually a little ways ahead in my viewing before most of my regular Sunday posts appear. While I haven’t gotten that far yet, I do essentially have my regular Sunday reviews planned out for the remainder of 2020. Watching this first Doris Day film, I decided I would go through the Doris Day filmography (or rather, what I have on disc, which is what I’m usually working with for these reviews). So, for four out of the five Sunday in January 2021, I am planning to feature Doris Day as the “Star Of The Month” (with the fifth Sunday being devoted to a movie featuring a screen team, although it could be one of the Doris Day films, depending on what the results are). Since I plan to follow up with a “Star Of The Month” for February and March (and will be offering polls to choose those stars over the next few weeks), I am asking for what movies you would like me to review (from the provided list). Please take your time to pick the four you would like to see! And now, back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hare Splitter (1948)

(available as an extra on the Romance On The High Seas Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 9 seconds)

While attempting to go on a date with his girlfriend Daisy, Bugs Bunny must contend with his rival for her affections, Casbah.  Fun old Bugs Bunny cartoon I’ve seen many a time over the years.  Bugs dressing in drag was always a bit of fun (and at least one joke still seems to be far more relevant than one would wish it).  Certainly fun to see again, even if it hasn’t been restored (at least for this release, anyways).

Coming Up Shorts! with… Let’s Sing A Song From The Movies (1948)

(available as an extra on the Romance On The High Seas Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 43 seconds)

This short is a collection of songs from various Warner Brothers movies, including song like “Am I Blue?”, sung by Ethel Waters in On With The Show, “By A Waterfall” from Footlight Parade, “Some Sunday Morning” sung by Alexis Smith in San Antonio and “A Gal In Calico” sung by Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson in The Time, The Place And The Girl.  Part of the “Memories From Melody Lane” series, it’s narrated by Art Gilmore.  After each song, the lyrics are shown so that the audience can sing along.  A bit of fun, even it it’s not a restored short.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Marital bliss doesn’t exist for this couple!  From the time they get married (and, quite frankly, even before that), Michael Kent (Don DeFore) and his wife, Elvira (Janis Paige), suspect each other of infidelity. And after two years of Elvira trying to plan a big trip for their anniversary, only for it to fall through because Michael is involved in some “business mergers,” she’s had enough!  While at a travel agency trying to plan a trip to Rio, Elvira quickly meets nightclub singer Georgia Garrett (Doris Day), who is known at the agency for planning trips she never goes on for lack of funds. When Michael has to cancel the trip for the third year in a row, Elvira decides to conspire with her uncle, Lazlo Lazlo (S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall), to send Georgia on the trip alone, posing as Elvira, while Elvira herself stays in town to secretly keep an eye on her husband. What Elvira doesn’t know is that her husband has hired a private detective, Peter Virgil (Jack Carson), to follow “Elvira Kent” on the trip. On the cruise’s first night, Georgia and Peter meet, and start spending a lot of time together. Of course, neither knows the truth about the other, and Peter starts to feel conflicted as he falls for his client’s “wife.” However, he has no “other man” to report. At least, until Georgia’s wanna-be boyfriend, Oscar Ferrar (Oscar Levant), shows up. Then there’s trouble, especially when Peter’s feelings are more conflicted, and he reports the “other man” to Michael, who decides to make the trip. Elvira catches wind of Michael leaving, and tries to get there ahead of him, but he is faster. From then on, it’s one big mess as everyone tries to figure out what’s going on!

Romance On The High Seas was originally planned with the hopes of starring either Judy Garland or Betty Hutton. When both of them proved unavailable, then one of those “it could only happen in Hollywood” star discoveries happened. Doris Day, who had mainly been a band singer up to that point, was getting ready to leave Hollywood after a series of career and personal failures. But, the night before she planned to leave, she sang at a Hollywood party, where lyric writer Sammy Cahn heard her and suggested that she try auditioning for director Michael Curtiz. It took a few attempts, since she broke down in tears partway through her first audition, but she got the role, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Certainly much ado is made of this being actress Doris Day’s first movie, and she really proves to be worth seeing in this movie, even if she is fourth-billed! I will admit, her performance doesn’t seem as good as you might expect from her later movies, but she does well enough that it doesn’t detract from the movie. She gets a few fun songs, particularly the Oscar-winning tune “It’s Magic” which became one of her biggest hits. And, of course, she’s supported by a great cast, including Jack Carson in one of his more likable roles, S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, who is always fun to see, and (love him or hate him) Oscar Levant, who is, well, Oscar Levant. You won’t find the plot to be that original or great, but the material is good enough. I enjoyed seeing it for the first time (again, Doris Day was the appeal here), and it’s one I would certainly recommend trying out!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The new Blu-ray boasts a 4K scan of the original nitrate Technicolor negatives. I’ll tell you, this new restoration is definitely a “WOW!” From the opening credits onward, you’re in for a treat! The color looks so vivid, just as it should for a movie in 3-strip Technicolor. Had this been a movie I had seen before, then, like last year’s 3-strip Technicolor Blu-ray release of Summer Stock, I would be giving this movie a bump up in the rating, it just looks that great! But, whatever the rating for the movie itself, Warner Archive gave it a great transfer, and it is certainly the best way to see this movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 39 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943) – Jack Carson – My Dream Is Yours (1949)

Janis Paige – Silk Stockings (1957)

It Happened On Fifth Avenue (1947) – Don DeFore

Doris DayMy Dream Is Yours (1949)

Oscar Levant – An American In Paris (1951)

Christmas In Connecticut (1945) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – My Dream Is Yours (1949)

The Sky’s The Limit (1943) – Eric Blore – The Adventures Of Ichabod And Mr. Toad (1949)

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