Saturday, August 25, 2012

Caprice 1967

An embarrassment.  Made towards the end of the tidal wave of James Bond spin offs and spy spoofs that filled international movie screens from the mid and late sixties, this unbelievable mess has Doris Day playing an industrial designer and spy for a cosmetics firm who is trying to get the secret ingredients for a spray that keeps hair dry even after a swim or a rainstorm from a rival cosmetics firm.  She’s pitted against another cosmetics spy played by Richard Harris who looks uncomfortable in this role and because of this comes off as very unappealing.  Day does no better. She started off the decade doing likeable and very profitable light romantic comedies, with a musical here and a femme jep thriller there that included “Please Don’t Eat The Daisies”, “Midnight Lace”, “Lover Come Back”, “Jumbo”, “That Touch Of Mink” and “The Thrill Of It All. ” All of them by the way played at Radio City Music Hall, and as I said were big popular successes.  But by 1964 she was allowing her rascal producer husband Martin Melcher to have more control over her career (he also made her turn down South Pacific because he thought they didn’t offer her enough money) and he was  picking more and more silly projects for her to do and her career took a nose dive. In 1967 she chose to do Caprice while turning down the role of Mrs. Robinson in “The Graduate” and one could only imagine what she would have been like in the role. At 43 Day was too old for her role in Caprice and was still being referred to as “girl” in the film.  Creepy to say the least. Wearing unattractive wigs, and ghastly mod looking clothes by the awful designer Ray Aghayan she comes off looking bored unattractive and not very funny in the many slapstick frantic routines that run amok in the film. Directed by Frank Tashlin with a heavy hand, the film also has a terrible score, and is somewhat homophobic having the villain turn out to be a transvestite which was a sometimes common touch in thrillers back in the 60’s and early 70’s.  I should say that as a kid I was a huge fan of hers, and saw everything she did, including all of the above mentioned films, but by the late sixties I lost interest in her. It wasn’t hip or cool to like her, and she was seen as an anti-feminist Republican conservative  by the baby boomers and she defiantly was not part of the Woodstock Nation, so I turned her off and turned on to the counter culture and the New Wave of American films that was beginning to come of age, just like me. Things started to change in the 70’s when the serious film magazine out of Canada Take One, devoted a large portion of one issue to reevaluating her, and the writer A. E. Hotchner published his serious book on her “Doris Day Her Own Story” and soon other writers and critics such as John Updike and Molly Haskell began to sing her praises and take note of her importance in film and music. For a time she found success on TV where she did the Doris Day show from 1968 to 1973, but as I said these were the years that I turned her off and I never saw one episode of the series.  Now at the age of 88 she is once again having a revival of sorts and I can only be pleased by this.   


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