Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Day

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Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Day

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"Love Me or Leave Me" Director Charles Vidor, Star Doris Day and Producer Joe Pasternak.

Interview with Joe Pasternak producer, "LMOLM", "Please Don't Eat the Daisies" and "Jumbo"
Jim Bawden: Your big hit during this period was "Love Me or Leave Me" (1955).

Joe Pasternak: Oh, that was all Jane Powell’s fault! She was already 26 and still playing teens and she says get me a mature part. So I bought Ruth Etting’s life story for her. But it was also the story of Marty Snyder, who was the small time gangster who built her into a star. And we had to pay him for rights, too, and one of his conditions was Jimmy Cagney had to play him. Jimmy wanted to do it. Jimmy was then 55ish and stuck beside Jane still looking like a teen the pairing was incongruous. So I had to substitute Doris Day, who was looking to toughen up her image and she really got into the role. Jane cried for a week. It was a huge hit. I was stunned Doris did not get an Oscar nomination, but she wasn’t liked in the industry. Jimmy makes you feel the cruelty of his character, but you also understand his rage as he starts losing his girl. And it was my biggest hit of the Fifties.

....................
Joe Pasternak: "Ask Any Girl" (1959) was with Shirley MacLaine on loan out from Hal Wallis –a standard sex comedy that Charles Walters did quickly. And that got him the nod from Doris Day to direct her in "Please Don’t Eat The Daisies" (1960). In both these comedies David Niven was the male co-star. Doris played a mother in it, then she makes "Pillow Talk" at Universal and she’s a virgin. Go figure."

........................
Jim Bawden: Your last big musical was "Billy Rose'sJumbo" (1962).

Joe Pasternak: Doris Day came to me with this project. She hadn’t done a musical in years. Still seethed about losing "South Pacific." But she was 40 and she insisted on all those fuzzy close-ups. After a few day’s shooting she comes to my office saying she felt our camera man, Joe Ruttenberg, was getting too long in the tooth And I said, “Could be. After all, Doris, we know you haven’t aged a bit.” :)

She picked her leading man, Stephen Boyd, but he lacked basic personality appeal. He looked lost without his chariot (from his role in "Ben-Hur"). We used an old Joan Crawford gimmick to make Doris look younger. We hired Martha Raye and Jimmy Durante as comedy relief and next to these two old buzzards she was dewey and fresh faced! I thought Charles Walters directed it very nicely. But it was Doris’s last movie musical."
©2011 by Jim Bawden, July 18, 2011
Full article: http://thecolumnists.com/bawden/bawden59.html

Interesting that he said, "I was stunned Doris did not get an Oscar nomination, but she wasn’t liked in the industry." I wonder if this was because she didn't go to Hollywood parties? Any thoughts on what he had to say?
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

Unread post by Jas1 »

Interesting article Bryan, thanks for sharing.

Re- not being liked in the industry, I think you are correct - as Doris did not play the Hollywood game as we know...also, I'd think there was a significant snobbery towards her (especially just at the end of the WB years) where she was probably seen as a light entertainment star with no real acting chops - how wrong...!

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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I was also surprised to read that quote. You may be right about the Hollywood attitude in that she didn't attend many Hollywood type functions. Also, at that point in time, I think she was thought of more as a singer with a little acting ability rather than the wonderful actress we know she was. Well, the important thing is her fabulous performance in that film is preserved for generations to enjoy.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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I can't imagine Jane Powell playing Ruth Etting with James Cagney, can you? Ava Gardner, yes but Jane would have made Cagney seem just a big bully.

Funny about the 'camera filters' that Doris wanted (she didn't need them!) and to read that Doris was upset not to get the South Pacific role - I thought that might have just been a rumor.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

Unread post by ray »

Doris and Marty didn't seem like they would take much bull. And Doris was a total singing talent and beautiful to boot, so that could have caused a lot of jealous problems with not being liked. That looking younger than spring thing has haunted Doris through her career and even now. Just as insecure as Kim Novak in that department. She's not ALL about just looking young. But Ladies are vain about age and such. No matter what mistakes have occured Doris will always be an all time favorite no matter what her age!!!

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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But Ladies are vain about age
Everyone worries about getting old or looking old, doncha think? Okay, some more than others but if you had a choice wouldn't you rather look 30 than 60? It's much more difficult for people in the public eye (like Doris & Kim, who were constantly being photographed) - but I think that men are the same as women, they just don't talk about it! :wink:
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Don't pick me up on everything!!!! I meant men. woman, queens, whatever. Doris let it all hang out in 1970 on her first talk show appearance with hardly any make up and a short ponytail and we still loved her, its the Young at heart spirit not just how you look.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

Unread post by mikeydv »

Hollywood was then, always was (and will probably always be, about jealousy). Not Doris...she didn't need to be. We must remember...no matter what Doris starred in, it always made money which is why she still holds the title as All Time Female Box Office Star. And there you have it....those "would be actors and actresses" who only THINK they can act would not recognize Doris because deep down they know she is better than any of them. That is the same reason why she has not been given (and will probably never be given ) an Oscar.
in my humble opinion, It is all about jealousy.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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I agree with both of you! :)

Pasternak gives some insight into Doris that only someone close to her would know. Sometimes you get the impression that Marty pulled the strings and Doris just did what she was told. That's why I enjoyed reading his comments - Doris & Marty were a team and Marty co-produced "Daisies" and "Jumbo".

It was also interesting that Doris 'complained' about her cinematographer. She knew the importance of how she looked better than him - and sometimes you have to be a bit tough - as Pasternak mentioned as a quality that got her the part in "Love Me Or Leave Me" - to be a big star.

That's why I never buy the 'girl next door' image. Doris was tough (as Rock Hudson confirmed, ditto Cary Grant) and had to be to succeed.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Doris was hardly unique in caring about how she looked on camera. With the possible exception of Bette Davis, nearly all of the major female stars wanted the best lighting and most flattering camera angles they could get. They were supposed to look like movie stars back then. So I'm not all surprised that Doris complained about the cinematographer. This anecdote from Pasternak is also consistent with Norman Jewison's recollection of working with Doris on Thrill Of Of It All. I like hearing that Doris could be as insecure about some things as the rest of us mere mortals. It humanizes her in my opinion.

Regarding her popularity or lack thereof in Hollywood, my guess is a lot of this had to do with her Christian Science beliefs and abstinence from alcohol. She wasn't considered hip in some circles who thought she was a square. Was she flying off to Vegas to hang out with the Rat Pack and party with the ring-a-ding-ding crowd? Hell no, and I'm guessing her politics also didn't endear her to the liberals who were marching on Washington to protest the House UnAmerican Activities committee.

Politics always plays a part in something like the Oscars. The Academy can proclaim over and over again that the voting process is all about the arts. BS. It is fraught with kiss-a#% types who smooze their way to an Oscar nomination. I don't think Doris cared enough to play the game. Good for her.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

Unread post by HilB126 »

Thanks for posting the article. It's always nice to read something new about Doris from people she knew. Everything he says about her does ring true, at least to me, regarding her attitude. Tough, determined, underrated.

I always figured the reason she was so underrated was simply because she had a dual career. In this day and age, you're still not thought of as a 'real' singer or actress when you're half in music and half in movies. You see Russell Crowe being made fun of for singing. Cher, even though winning an Oscar, still isn't considered a real 'actress.' It seems you have to be fully in one or the other to get the respect you deserve. Singing stars were considered fluff and are still considered fluff today. This certainly taps in with the jealousy issue people in the industry have. I really think the reason people disliked her so because she made everything look so easy :lol: because it's definitely not in the slightest.

And then there's the whole issue with comedies not being recognized as often as dramas, which is screwed up because everybody knows believable comedy is harder to pull of than a crying jag in any film.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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^^^ You make a valid point about the envy factor in Hollywood. It does seem that singers could dabble in films but their acting skills were often marginalized by the film community. It was as if they weren't allowed to be that gifted across multiple facets of show business. To her credit, Doris was among the very few simgers who achieved significant commercial and critical success in films. Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Barbra Streisand are the only other examples I can think of at the moment. And for every one of them you can site many others who tried to crossover and failed to make it in films: Madonna; Mick Jagger; David Bowie; Christina Aqueilera; and back to former teen idols like Pat Boone, Frankie Avalon and Fabian. Poor Elvis had real acting talent but he was reduced to formulaic musicals to sell tickets and soundtrack albums for The Colonel.

Personally, I think Cher is a much better actor than singer but as you say, she still isn't considered a major film star in spite of her Best Actress win for Moonstruck.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Before Doris, I think stars like Fred & Ginger, Gene Kelly, Judy Garland, etc were respected for having both musical and acting talent (Ginger won an Oscar for "Kitty Foyle" - but she was very Hollywood, one imagines).

The great thing about Doris is that she could do both equally well and probably reached a lot more people than had she just been a straight actress. I think her music is one of the reasons she is still remembered today more than other stars of her era.

I don't know what percentage of Doris' films were musicals - 50%? It's fascinating that she wanted to do another musical in 1962 and that she had really wanted to be in "South Pacific" (I read that Marty asked for too much money - Doris wouldn't have cared about that - and it's ironic that he ended up losing most of it). So she still had that love of musicals - luckily for us. For me she wouldn't have been Doris Day without them and the records...

I started drifting away then thinking about what her film career would have been like without Marty's eye for making a buck.. oh well, you can't rewrite history! :evil:
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Say what you will about Marty, but I don't think Doris would have appeared in films as frequently as she did, if not for him. DD enjoyed her time off which is ironic since she rarely got it. If not in a film studio, she'd be preparing for the recording studio. DD, I think, was a reluctant work horse.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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She might not have made as many films, Howard, but she would have made better choices with some of them, I think.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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You're probably right.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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^^ Especially in the last 1/4 of her career. Yowza. Most of those were doozies!

I usually go back and forth between disliking Marty and being thankful for him. Most of the time the dislike heavily outweighs the positive, but without him I honestly don't think we would have nearly as much in Doris' filmography and discography that we do now. It's sort of a double-edged sword.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Quantity vs quality? I know which I prefer. :)
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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It's hard to criticize Marty's handling of her film choices when she left WB. This period produced her best films and you all know their names. But once Jerome Rosenthal got hold off their finances, Marty's judgement became all about the money. He relied on the formulaic comedies that pushed her to the top of the box office and failed to realize the formula was growing stale and public tastes were changing. He had to cover the debts Rosenthal was racking up and that unfortunately led to stinkers like WWYWTLWO and Ballad of Josie. Her film career was pretty much over at that point.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Yes, Michael, (and I would include Do Not Disturb and Caprice) - a terrible waste of a great talent.

Even The Doris Day Show, which I know was very popular with fans and was thankfully a commercial success, was low-budget lets-put-on-a-(TV)-show. Almost like Marty was controlling her from beyond the grave.

I'm sure he loved her and did the best he could under the circumstance he found himself in but it shows the danger of husband-as-manager and Doris indicated it turned their relationship into just a business partnership.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Well, I agree about Do Not Disturb, but I've grown fond of Caprice for some strange reason. True, it is not worthy of Doris, and yes, there are a thousand things wrong with it. BUT -- it has a goofy sort of 60's vibe that I cannot resist. It's a bit like watching Austin Powers with a Max Factor hangover. The Ray Aghayan mod outifts are pretty amazing too and no one does pratfall schtick better than Doris Day.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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If Doris was not liked by the industry in 1955, what did the industry have to say about her from 1960 to 1965 when her films were making a lot of money?

Doris shows real authenticity in her films, recordings and, I would think this is true in her life. There is a certain class, confidence, and humility about her that has great appeal to her audience.

Look at her speech in the AFI tribute to Jimmy Cagney and you see genuine feelings of respect for him. She looked fantastic and sexy in her coral gown.

She also challenged Johnny Carson on his show when he teased her. She appeared really confident and upbeat.

Actors like Doris (and Cher too) don't fit the mold, they are originals, and their genuine talent can't be denied. This is why the public's affection for them endures.
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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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Johnny wrote:If Doris was not liked by the industry in 1955, what did the industry have to say about her from 1960 to 1965 when her films were making a lot of money?

Doris shows real authenticity in her films, recordings and, I would think this is true in her life. There is a certain class, confidence, and humility about her that has great appeal to her audience.

Look at her speech in the AFI tribute to Jimmy Cagney and you see genuine feelings of respect for him. She looked fantastic and sexy in her coral gown.

She also challenged Johnny Carson on his show when he teased her. She appeared really confident and upbeat.

Actors like Doris (and Cher too) don't fit the mold, they are originals, and their genuine talent can't be denied. This is why the public's affection for them endures.
Well said. I think the mere fact that both ladies were (still are) genuine originals threw Hollywood for a loop. Neither could have cared less about sucking up to the power circles or running with the hip crowd. That sort of posturing was beneath them and it bugged some within the industry. But the public saw through the phonies and embraced both women.

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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I appreciate all the commentary and couldn't agree more with most of them. I love Caprice as well, always have, and Glass Bottom Boat is an all time favorite. Regarding her politics, she may be conservative to a point, but she has never been conservative when it came to her friends in real life, Like Rock and Billy de Wolfe. And even in her advanced years she gaver her support or b lessing to the aids walk a couple of years back. Somehow, I don't see Sarah Palin in that role. LOL

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Re: Producer Joe Pasternak talks about working with Doris Da

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I agree with Toby about Doris being "conservative." She may have been cautious with money - a trait she probably got from Marty, but I do *not* believe that she was socially conservative at all. And, while I think that she thought deeply about religion, she did not seem to be a "church goer". I think that she took bits of different religions and philosophies and followed them as best she could throughout her life.

I would call her *conservative* with a very small "c" and a Liberal with a very big "L".

Lauren

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