"It's a Great Feeling" was aimed at attracting a larger audience for Doris Day, whom the studio was building into their next big star.
Day's star begins to rise with her third film for Warners...
With the success of Romance on the High Seas" and "My Dream is Yours", Doris Day was rushed into her third picture with Jack Carson. This time, she received billing over Carson, but just behind Dennis Morgan, who was top-billed. He had just appeared with Jane Wyman in "The Lady Takes a Sailor" and was an important star on the lot. Morgan was an Irish tenor with a beautiful voice and one of the studio's most reliable musical personalities.
Filmed in Technicolor, "It's a Great Feeling" was aimed at attracting a larger audience for Doris Day, whom the studio was building into their next big star. Ironically, Bette Davis, after 20-years with the studio, was trying desperately to leave and threatened to shut down "Beyond the Forest" unless she was released from her contract. Doris Day had no such problems. She was riding high and had the studio backing that a new star needed to succeed in Hollywood in 1949. In his effort to get Doris Day seen by vast audiences, "Feeling" producer Alex Gottlieb contracted practically every star on Warner Brothers' lot to make a guest appearance in the picture for wider appeal. Since the setting for the film was a movie lot, it was easy to assume that you'd see celebrities wandering about the soundstages. It also afforded Doris the opportunity to perform brief scenes with some of the legends of the film world.
"It's A Great Feeling" was an up musical comedy which centred around Jack Carson, playing himself, having problems with finding a director for his new film after Raoul Walsh, King Vidor, Michael Curtiz and David Butler (all playing themselves) turned down the "chance" to work with Carson. His co-star was to be Dennis Morgan, who was getting frustrated with the situation and wanted to withdraw from the project when he discovered that producer, Arthur Trent (Bill Goodwin) had assigned Carson to direct the picture, in an act of desperation. Morgan has an offer to do a Broadway show in New York which he feels will be a better career choice.
As a matter of fact, he's signing the New York contract the next day! Judy Adams (Doris Day), a waitress in the studio commissary, delivers Carson's lunch and begs for an audition for his picture. She imitates none other than Bette Davis' histrionic style, which gives Carson an idea. If Judy can play his pregnant wife who is dependent on Carson for her well-being and convince Morgan not to sign his stage contract, he will give Judy a part in his new picture. Morgan feels sorry for "Mrs. Carson" and signs the film contract only to find out shortly after that the whole thing was a set-up. Judy apologises for the fraud and realises that she too has been lied to by Carson. Frustrated, she vows to return to her hometown, Gerkey's Corners, Wisconsin.
After failing to get Jane Wyman, who faints when she learns that she will have to co-star with Carson in "Mademoiselle Fifi", Carson and Morgan decide to use Judy Adams, an unknown. Problem is, Judy is on her way back home. She is intercepted at the train station and is persuaded to return, with the help of Danny Kaye, after Carson and Morgan convince her that she has a chance to become a star. To change Judy's image, the guys take her to Michele's of Hollywood for a new wardrobe. There, they meet Joan Crawford, who for some reason breaks into her dramatic scene from "Mildred Pierce" saying "I do that in all of my pictures!" Doris gushes, "Oh I just love Miss Crawford on the screen."
The new plan is to have producer Trent "discover" Judy himself by placing her in selected spots around the lot where he can encounter her. After this fails and Trent thinks he's going mad after seeing the same girl everywhere he goes, it looks as if the picture won't get made at all. A new plan by the duo is to sponsor an official dinner party, welcoming a French movie star, Yvonne Amour (Judy, complete with black wig and French accent), in a last ditch effort to sway Trent. Doris as 'Amour' is welcomed by party guests, Eleanor Parker and Patricia Neal, and even French officials before taking the stage to sing "At the Cafe Rendezvous" resulting in disaster, as Judy trips on a cable and falls down a flight of stairs! Doris was wonderful in this scene. Not knowing any French, she responds to a French delegation after they greet her in their native tongue with "Parlavou Frances?" Very funny.
A disgusted Judy heads back for Gerky's Corner. Trying to sleep, Judy dreams of Carson, Morgan and herself in a musical number called "There's Nothing Rougher Than Love". Waking from the "nightmare", she retires to a private sitting area on the train, turns up the volume on the Muzak and sings the glorious ballad, "Blame My Absent-Minded Heart". (This is the scene that James Garner saw when he was in the service with other GI's and he "fell in love" with Doris Day. Little did he know that he'd be co-starring with her a little over a decade later.) Trent is also on the train and listens to Judy sing. He is impressed and offers her a contract to make movies. Disgusted with Hollywood promises of "cars, fame and fortune" she rejects his offer. Trent wires Morgan and informs him that he wants Judy to star in "Mademoiselle Fifi", but as an American girl. Undaunted, Carson and Morgan travel to Gerkey's Corners to bring Judy back to Hollywood. They arrive at the church where she is getting married to her childhood love, Jeffrey Bushfinkle. After the vows are said, the couple kisses, they face the camera and Jeffrey turns out to be "Errol Flynn"!
"It's A Great Feeling" was a success and prompted Miss Day to settle permanently in California. She had two important careers going, movies and recordings and was on her way to becoming a superstar. The title song from the picture was nominated for "Best Song" at Oscar time and Day's popularity soared. Other stars that appeared as themselves in the picture included Sidney Greenstreet, Gary Cooper, Ronald Reagan and Edward G. Robinson. Although she did not appear, Virginia Mayo was mentioned.
Ralph McKnight, New York 2000
Doris Day did not consider this film as much of a picture, but she was enjoying the role of movie actress very much, and it came naturally to her. She also like the regular hours of the studio, compared to the strange and late night hours of the bandstand from years before.
In her book, Doris Day My Story, she says:
"I enjoyed playing and singing for the cameras and I guess that enjoyment came through on the screen, somehow communicated itself to the audience and me them feel good too. When the camera turned, instead of suffering the agonies that always preceded radio and stage appearances, I easily and rather happily responded to whatever was demanded of me; I had no inhibitions, no doubts, no hang-ups."
One of the film's guest stars, Joan Crawford, above, was asked by studio boss Jack Warner to play Doris' sister in the film "Storm Warning"; Joan declined saying "Come on, Jack. No one would ever believe that I would have Doris Day for a sister!" - JoanCrawfordbest.com
Another of the film's guest stars, the great Edward G. Robinson.
Produced by Alex Gottlieb and directed by David Butler, it has all the ingredients necessary to keep audiences and showmen happy. There are several good songs sung in turn by Morgan, Carson and Miss Day; there is a fantasy dance routine expertly and lavishly performed by the Mazzone-Abbott Dancers; there's a story with a Hollywood background which takes the audience on an unofficial tour of the behind-the-scenes operations in a big film studio, and finally, for the gag and surprise effect, there's a supporting cast gathered from the Warner Studio roster of stars, which included Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan, Edward G. Robinson and Errol Flynn. Add to these some brief appearances by such directors as Michael Curtiz, Mr. Butler, King Vidor and Raoul Walsh, and you really have a star-studded cast. - Motion Picture Herald
Above, a rare photograph, from Roderick Young, showing his aunt and uncle with Doris Day and David Butler (far right) on the set of "It's A Great Feeling", which then had the working title of "Two Guys and a Gal". His aunt gave him the photo when he was a child. Photographer: Pat Clark at Warner Bros.