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Calamity Jane
USA 1953
Directed by David Butler
Running time 101 minutes

3.5 stars


Warner’s Calamity Jane was an attempt to duplicate the success of Annie Get Your Gun, which had been filmed by MGM in 1950. Despite being derivative it is a real hayseed hoot thanks to the vibrantly energetic performance of Doris Day as ‘Calam’, the tomboy-to-end-all-tomboys. Although the portrayal of the “injun-nigger heathens" (now known as Native Americans) makes one shudder, a lot of fun is had with gender stereotyping. The 11 songs, by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, are clearly blow-by-blow responses to those by Irving Berlin for Annie (with a touch of Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma thrown in), but they are still a lot better than average, including the witty Windy City, I Could Do Without You, an amusing duet between Day and Howard Keel, and the wonderful, Oscar-winning Secret Love in which a transformed Day completely loses her character's countrified twang. Reversing the usual trend, the film was later turned into a stage music. BH

 

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