6 May 2004 | gregorybnyc
Doris and Martha's Big Moment
I saw this as a teenager, and fell in love. Doris Day was one of the most popular and yet one of the most underrated movie stars of her generation. Her reputation hasn't survived into our modern era as other film icons of the time, including Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, Sophia Loren, Shirley MacLaine and Elizabeth Taylor.
She was an excellent singer, actress, film personality, and she shines in this less-than-perfect screen adaptation of Billy Rose's Broadway extravaganza. Doris was 38 when she made this film, and she looks a tad too old. But she had one of Hollywood's greatest bodies and looks sensational in the many period costumes. She sings this glorious Rodgers and Hart score magnificently, particularly "My Romance," and "Little Girl Blue." The highlight in the movie is the "Why Can't I" duet between Doris and Martha Raye. Raye, a wonderful singer in her own right, and Doris simply shine in this small scene, harmonizing beautifully.
Jimmy Durante is also superb as her charming scamp of a father and head of the family circus. His asides to Jumbo, the elephant are wonderfully comic. Stephen Boyd has been criticized, but I think he's the classic leading man here and doesn't spoil any scene he's in.
This JUMBO was the end of the classic movie musical era, and you can hear it wheezing a bit. But anachronistic as it is, you have Busby Berkeley overseeing the musical numbers, and you would be hard-pressed to find two hours as heart-warmingly delightful as this movie is. Brava to Doris Day--long may she be remembered for the class act she was.