Doris Day: poster girl

The poster art for the bubbly romances of Doris Day displays some of the garish joys of a bygone marketing era.

Samuel Wigley

Calamity Jane (1953)

The star counted her ‘Day-lightful’ outing as buckskin-clad sharpshooter Calamity Jane as her favourite of all her films. A rambunctious musical western made by the Warner Bros studio after they failed to secure the rights to Irving Berlin’s Annie Get Your Gun, it features great songs (‘The Deadwood Stage’) and dialogue that crackles.

Young at Heart (1954)

“Together… and terrific”, Doris Day and Frank Sinatra was an onscreen match made in fifties crooning heaven. The story of a musical Connecticut family, and the amorous complications that ensue when a male songwriter and his cynical friend come a-calling, Young at Heart is based on a screenplay co-written by Julius J. Epstein, best-known for Casablanca (1942).

The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)

Co-starring with James Stewart as two parents whose young son is kidnapped while on holiday in Morocco, Day was perhaps an unlikely Hitchcock blonde. But the Master of Suspense found a clever way to work in a song for her – the Oscar-winning ‘Que sera sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)’ was first introduced in The Man Who Knew Too Much. The poster shows the galleries of the Royal Albert Hall, which is the setting for the film’s exciting climax.

Pillow Talk (1959)

A huge success upon release in 1959, Pillow Talk is a New York-set romantic comedy and the first of three films Day made together with Rock Hudson – “the perfect pair”, especially in complementing blue and pink pyjamas. Lover Come Back (1961) and Send Me No Flowers (1964) followed.

Midnight Lace (1960)

Though best-known for comedies and musicals, Day had proved she could hold her own in thrillers with her turn in Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much. In 1960, she starred opposite Rex Harrison in this London-set chiller as the wife who, one night walking in the park, hears a creepy voice through the fog telling her that her days are numbered. As the poster of Midnight Lace puts it: “Whose was the silken voice in the night…?”

That Touch of Mink (1962)

A cheshire-cat grin from Cary Grant and an oddly spatchcocked Day feature in this poster for the breezy 1962 romcom That Touch of Mink. Day plays a whiter-than-white country girl who meets a suave New York playboy (Grant) after his Rolls Royce splashes her dress with mud in the film’s opening scenes. But their romance begins at cross purposes: he’s after a fling, while she’s keeping herself pure for marriage.

The Thrill of It All (1963)

Pretty in pink, Day plays a housewife who suddenly becomes a TV celebrity after appearing in a soap commercial. James Garner is her obstetrician husband. The poster brings out a playful war of the sexes:  “She’s hoping, He’s wishing…” “…He’s wishing, She’s willing!”

Send Me No Flowers (1964)

The last of the three films teaming Day with Rock Hudson has Hudson as a hypochondriac who mistakenly believes he’s dying and so tries to find his wife (Day) a new husband. “Rock is ready to make love yesterday, tomorrow, and especially to Day (Doris that is!)”, one poster punned. This colourful alternative has the more prosaic, “Send me no flowers… just send me.”

The Ballad of Josie (1967)

The poster for this comedy western trades on memories of Day’s classic turn as Calamity Jane back in 1953. Day plays a sheep-farmer (“Calamity Josie”) who stirs up a Wyoming town with thoughts of feminism and women’s suffrage. “It’s Quick-draw Doris,” the tagline screams, “the wildest, wooliest sheepwoman who ever cowed a herd of cattle barons.”

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