Plot: What’s it about?
Deadwood is a rough & tumble section of the North Dakota territory, not exactly the kind of place for women and children to reside. But Calamity Jane (Doris Day) thrives in the area, working as an Indian scout and spending a lot of time showing off her various skills, of which she has more than most men in Deadwood. Jane is skilled with a horse and handles a gun like a master gunslinger, but she uses her mouth more than anything else. Her brags & boasts are famous in Deadwood, though to her credit, she is often able to back them up. So she’s not the typical female, but she likes it that way, though the man she has her eye on doesn’t seem to like her rugged, boastful persona. And when the beautiful, feminine Katie Brown (Allyn Ann McLerie) arrives in Deadwood, Jane finds herself left out in the cold with the males. Can she prove that she’s just as woman as Katie, or will she lose her love to this newly arrived priss?
Although Calamity Jane can’t stack up against the true classic musicals, I think it stands as a fun, worthwhile picture. As such, I am pleased to see this DVD released, as Calamity Jane can make for an entertaining evening, without a doubt. Of course, without the superb Doris Day in the lead, this film would probably tank into oblivion, but thankfully, Day is here and she is marvelous, making the movie well worth a look. As with most musicals, fans of the genre will be most pleased, but I think this one also works well for those not usually interested in the genre, as it is light, upbeat, and has some nice visuals. The message might seem a little dated these days, especially that Jane has to be transformed into a “typical” female, but that’s part of the fun, as is the dated approach to how Native Americans are handled. So this is a fun, fluff musical and little else, but for those interested, Calamity Jane is well worth a rental.
As I discussed above, I think the presence of Doris Day is what makes this movie as good as it is, as she has all the highlights. Day seems confident within the less than glamorous role and once she’s “feminized,” her beauty shines once again, though she handles the transition to perfection also, of course. I don’t think this is her best role, but it does happen to be one of the spark performances of her career, as recent years afterwards yielded a string of memorable, enjoyable efforts from the beautiful actress. Other films with Day include The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Pajama Game, Teacher’s Pet, The Glass Bottom Boat, Pillow Talk, Midnight Lace, Young at Heart, and Lover Come Back. The cast also includes Howard Keel (Annie Get Your Gun, The Day of the Triffids), Allyn Ann McLerie (All the President’s Men, They Shoot Horses Don’t They?), and Philip Carey (The Great Sioux Massacre, Dead Ringer).
Video: How does it look?
Calamity Jane is presented in a full frame transfer, as intended. I found the image here to be solid, but not quite as impressive as some material from the era, though still more than acceptable in all respects. I did notice some color issues, like a segment of color that was misaligned, but these weren’t too serious by any means. I also saw some flaws in the contrast, but again nothing too extreme and as such, I can’t complain all that much. The print looks good, aside from some thick grain in some scenes, leaving me to score this as a solid, but flawed visual presentation.
Audio: How does it sound?
The mono track found here is stable and acceptable, but it has some signs of wear and never does much to impress. I don’t think anyone will be all that let down by the audio, but by the same token, I doubt rave reviews will be heard throughout the home video world. The toll of time is evident, as the audio is sometimes thin, but I found the basics to be in order and while the musical numbers aren’t as good as I’d like, most of the elements are solid enough. The musical pieces just seem too restrained and worn at times, which of course, is not good news. This disc also includes a French language option, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Japanese, should you need those at some point.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc includes some vintage newsreel footage, as well as the film’s theatrical trailer.