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Little Miss Sunshine

Whenever I think about Doris Day, I just smile. So geniune and multitalented, but also projecting just enough artifice to make you question whether that genuineness is truly what it is (know what I mean?). That’s what came to mind for me while taking in The Doris Day Special, recently issued on DVD from MPI Home Video. This DVD presents a clear and lovely copy of Miss Day’s 1970 TV outing, The Doris Mary Ann Kappelhoff Special, augmented with a load of interesting outtakes. Watching the DVD was fun, and strange. But mostly fun.

If anything, this show is a time capsule of the era’s proudly un-hip, grownups-only entertainment. The special presents an overly tanned and made up Day singing some of her earlier hits (“It’s Magic”, “Sentimental Journey”) alongside more contemporary fare like Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now.” She and a laconic Perry Como frolic on a giant set dressed like an outdoor park, at times joined by Rock Hudson or a phalanx of her beloved pet dogs (in fact, it’s the dogs’ unpredictability that provides the most enjoyment on the outtakes). There’s also a cool/kitschy filmed opening medley and fashion sequence to keep the eyeballs busy, but it’s clearly Miss Day’s show all the way. The world of 1970 may have been filled with war and political unrest, but you’d never know it watching Doris in her crisp orange knee-length dress with matching ribbon. One smile from her is an escape from the humdrum — then and now.

6 Thoughts on “Little Miss Sunshine

  1. There’s another special from 1970 by another lovely lady that’s caught my eye:

    I have part of it on an Australian compilation, and it’s tremendous. Her “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine” against a backdrop of the pyramids in Mexico must be experienced.

  2. I’ve seen the full Raquel special, and it’s absolutely worth the Netflix-ing. Brings new meaning to the word, “Huh??!” Can’t recommend it highly enough.

    On a similar note, am anxiously awaiting the DVD release of Pet Clark’s marvelous 1968 special, “Petula!”

  3. John H. on October 24, 2006 at 5:52 pm said:

    The 68 Petula special is a classy classic, but there’s one from 1970 that’s even dizzier: psychedelic sets, a funky medley of “Shaft” and “Money,” and a performance of the Beatles’ “Fool on the Hill” that’s almost harrowing. A must-find.

  4. Neat! I have the Raquel disc in my Netflix queue.

    Isn’t the Petula ’68 where she got into some stupid controversy for holding hands with Harry Belafonte? Here’s hoping hers and other old variety specials show up on DVD.

  5. Yes, the 1968 Pet Clark special is indeed the one where NBC got flack for her touching Harry Belafonte.

    Didn’t know she did another one…and don’t get me started on the need to put out the Fred Astaire specials; three classy ones in 1958, 1959, and 1960, and one apparent mess in 1968 (Fred meets Simon and Garfunkel!)

  6. Wow, thanks! Now that TCM is airing Dick Cavett, maybe they’ll branch out into delights like these, too.

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