Romance on the High Seas, which features Doris Day’s on-screen debut, is among the latest classics to get a Blu-ray release from Warner Archive.
At the film’s start Elvira Kent (Janis Paige) assumes her husband, Michael (Don DeFore), is cheating on her. Likewise, Michael also assumes the same. Elvira decides to book a pair of tickets for a cruise for their anniversary and Michael can’t make the trip because of work reasons. What happens next is that Elvira pretends to go alone and she sends a singer, Georgia Garrett (Doris Day), not just in her place but under her name. Elvira stays behind but Michael doesn’t know this and sends a private investigator, Peter Virgil (Jack Carson), to check on her. Georgia pretends to be Elvira–under instructions, of course–and naturally, Peter falls in love with her. It isn’t until the boat docks in Rio when everybody shows up and the matter sorts itself out.
Michael Curtiz had a way of directing talent with a star-making performance. The biggest discovery of the film happens to be none other than Doris Day. In fact, Curtiz claimed that Day was the favorite of all of his discoveries through the years. Other discoveries included John Garfield and then-stock player Errol Flynn but that’s another story for another day. Doris Day, who would become an icon, shines through in her performance as Georgia Garrett.
The first choice was Judy Garland but Curtiz decided she wasn’t worth the risk following a nervous breakdown. While Betty Hutton was set to star in the film, her pregnancy meant having to drop out. Lauren Bacall was also under consideration but the actress didn’t feel confidence after reading the script. While there are differing accounts as to how Curtiz considered Day for the role, she was a true natural in front of the camera.
Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn composed the music, which would net them an Oscar nomination for “It’s Magic.” While it isn’t as memorable, “Put ’em in a Box, Tie ’em with a Ribbon, and Throw ’em in the Deep Blue Sea” is another catchy song in the film. Doris Day ended up singing five songs in the film. Not a bad start to her film career!
Getting Busby Berkeley to direct the choreography is a real coup for the film. The musical numbers aren’t too elaborate but Berkeley was one of the most popular musical directors in the 1930s and 1940s.
Romance on the High Seas might not be in the top tier of Michael Curtiz classics but the film is worth checking out for Doris Day’s perfrmance.
- Vintage Musical Short: Let’s Sing a Song from the Movies
- Classic Cartoon: Hare Splitter
- Theatrical Trailer
DIRECTOR: Michael Curtiz
SCREENWRITERS: Julius J. Epstein & Philip G. Epstein (Additional Dialogue by I.A.L. Diamond)
CAST: Jack Carson, Janis Page, Don DeFore, and Doris Day, with Oscar Levant, S.Z. Sakall, Fortunio Bonanova