DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by howard »

Just finished reading a fascinating article about the making of "The Graduate." According to the film's producer, Larry Turman, Doris never had a chance to even reject the role of Mrs. Robinson. Here's the direct quote from this 2008 feature:

"Larry Turman had a slew of actresses under consideration for the now iconic role of Mrs. Robinson: Patricia Neal, Geraldine Page, Deborah Kerr, Lana Turner, Susan Hayward, Rita Hayworth, Shelley Winters, Eva Marie Saint, Ingrid Bergman, and Ava Gardner. He also gave a copy of Webb’s novel to Doris Day’s husband and manager, Martin Melcher. “I sent him the book, but he hated it—he thought it was dirty—and wouldn’t even pass it along to her,” he recalls.
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by jbeane »

Well, who knew Marty was such a prude!
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by Musiclover »

With Melcher being married 3 times, I doubt he was a prude! Not to defend him at all, but I wonder if he thought that the public wouldn't accept Doris in that role. (Maybe he recalled the flak she took from many moviegoers for doing Love Me or Leave Me.) I think it was heavy-handed of him not to show her the script, but according to multiple reports, operating that way seemed to be typical of him.

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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Interesting quote- however, I still prefer to believe Doris' version - that she was offered the part and did see the script and it was she who turned it down [although I would have loved her to have done it]. I read somewhere [???] the original stars up for consideration of the parts were Ronald Reagan and Doris Day as the parents, with Candice Bergen [daughter part] and Robert Redford in the Dustin Hoffman role. All very interesting.

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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Doris Day said:
"I was offered the part of Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate but I could not see myself rolling around in the sheets with a young man half my age whom I'd seduced. I realized it was an effective part but it offended my sense of values.

Of course, in the years since then, explicit sex has become commonplace on the screen - so commonplace that it is considered novel when a film appears without a few naked bodies thrashing about. Now I really don't put anybody else down for doing such scenes. To each his own. Many actors enjoy doing these turns, and obviously many people enjoy watching them. I don't, either doing or watching. I can't picture myself in bed with a man, all the crew around us, doing that which I consider so exciting and exalting when it is very personal and private. I am really appalled by some of the public exhibitions on the screen by good actors and actresses who certainly have the talent to convey the impact of what they are doing without showing us to the last detail of pubic hair and rosy nipple how they are doing it."
- Doris Day, Her Own Story
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by jbeane »

Well ultimately she probably wouldn't have done the role, she was far too private, however, that was all during a time when she and Marty weren't getting along all that well. He may have made the decision and she found out later - kind of like the TV show.
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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They were also into their Christian Science religion at the time. I read that Doris lost her faith completely after Marty died but later rediscovered, as far as I understand it, a faith not determined by any particular religion.

The other thing is that Doris was a 'star personality' in the studio system with a particular image - rather like Debbie Reynolds, Grace Kelly, June Allyson, Jane Powell, etc - they never played 'bad girls' (so-called 'tramps') unlike Liz. Ava, Marilyn etc. They could play a victim (Julie/Midnight Lace) but not a part like Martha in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf or the role Liz played in Butterfield 8. The only 'good girl' I can think of who crossed over is Deborah Kerr - but I'm sure there are others. Oh yes, Julie Andrews in one or two of her final Blake Edwards films.
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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Donna Reed in "From Here to Eternity"

Shirley Jones in "Elmer Gantry"
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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Yes,. was thinking about Deborah Kerr in from Here to Eternity.
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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I don't think the whole story will ever be completely known......in her book Doris references turning down the role because it offended her which doesn't jibe with Turman sending it to Marty and Marty not passing it along. It also doesn't jibe with what Mike Nichols said in a lengthy four page letter to me. He saw "The Glass Bottom Boat" at Radio City in the summer of 1966 while in NYC doing promotions for "Virginia Wollf" which was coming out. "Boat" was the first time he'd looked at Doris as someone other than perky and pert because, as you know, in "Boat" she wears a lot of outfits that emphasize her bust...that white formal dress for instance. Mike said he reevaluated his previous thoughts and saw her as someone very womanly and sexy in her maturity and reached out to her via Norman Jewison, a friend of Mike's. Mike knew he'd worked with Doris twice. According to Mike, Norman spoke with Doris about the role and Doris asked Norman if he thought she could play a character like that and Norman told her, "You're much sexier than you could possibly know......" Norman delivered a draft of the script to Doris at Fox where she was wrapping "Caprice", Marty found out and staged a major scene - "You don't trust me to find roles for you that are worthy of your talent? You'd rather do something that will offend your fans and ruin your reputation?"

Sydney Guilaroff who did the hair for "The Graduate" and was a friend of Nichols, told me once that while filming "Lights Went Out?" in which he did DD's hair, that she spoke to Sydney about "The Graduate" since he had just completed work on it prior to starting "Lights" in late summer of 1967. Sydney was unaware that Doris had been approached and told her in no uncertain terms that she should have accepted the offer. Sydney felt it would have been a major step-up from a "Grade B piece of crap like that western you just did at Universal and even this thing!" (Referring to "Lights") ALL of this will be included in my book if it comes to pass because I don't think there will ever be a definitive story but then in Hollywood, it's sometimes difficult to nail down the whole story.

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by howard »

Thanks for setting the record straight, Paul. You are the man!
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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Paul - thanks for that - I like that version the best actually - really look forward to this book - very much.

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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Yes, thanks for that, Paul. There's a lot of (mis)information out there about the subject.

I was going to add the following caption to the above image:

"Why did I turn down The Graduate? Actually, I didn't.
Marty turned it down without telling me I'd been offered it.
He'd already signed me to make Caprice - again without telling me."

Apparently Marty thought it 'dirty' - I suspect it may have had more to do the rushed deals he'd made on Doris' final films.

Some interesting info from Wikipedia:
There are considerable age discrepancies between the lead roles and the actors who portrayed them. Benjamin Braddock says, "I will be 21 next week" - at the time of filming, Dustin Hoffman was 29. William Daniels, who plays Hoffman's father, was, at 39, only 10 years older than Hoffman.
Mrs. Robinson states, "Benjamin, I am twice your age" Anne Bancroft was 35, only six years older than Hoffman. Mrs. Robinson's daughter Elaine is 19 and was portrayed by Katharine Ross, who was 27 at the time. Elaine May, who portrayed Elaine's college roommate and delivered a note to Benjamin from Elaine, was 35 at the time and only seven months younger than Anne Bancroft.
Finally, Here’s to You, Mr. Nichols: The Making of The Graduate:
http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2008/03/graduate200803
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by ray »

The Graduate would have been a big hit for Doris but would have it really bring on more great film roles? Can't see Doris poseing in her bra and a cigareete and fur as Ann Bancroft. did. Doris gave us wonderful movie memories that are still with us today and tomorrow. Her life story could be a great film. A Star doesn't have too be everything to everyone. I just don't think the Graduate would have been an almighty choice. Maybe new roles would have been offered and with Marty's passing I don't she would have done them anyway. I think she was tired of acting and needed to move on as she did. Marty was the force to make her work for good or bad results and for two decades mostly good. Although sadly Marty lost touch of the new hollywood in the late sixties.

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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I think you're right to say she was tired of making films, Ray - and who can blame her with the movies Marty signed her up for - it makes me think of how Elvis' film career was also killed off by making 'formulaic' movies.

She was lucky not to do The Unsinkable Molly Brown. I tried to watch it last night, I had to give up after half an hour waiting for it to get better and still no sight of the Titanic. Debbie Reynolds seemed to be playing Calamity Jane, singing and fighting with her brothers in a poor man's version. It wasn't even so bad it was good -and I can easily sit through a few so-so numbers in a musical - it was completely pointless! :evil:

If anyone managed to watch it all and eventually liked it - I'd love to hear about it!
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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You are so right Bryan about Molly Brown. Very un watchable. Doris was only given a few dynamic roles from Hollywood but still managed superstardom and all time greatness. Those being Love Me Or Leave Me, Pillow Talk and a few others people would mention. What a feat without Sound Of Music and South Pacific. She even rose above her TV material given her. May have to be because she was a solid music talent with a velvet voice before she started her before the camera chores. The Lady touches something in all of us on and off the camera. Truely an all time love affair that will never end. She reminds us of our Mothers, Sisters or Lovers we would hope for or even the real girl next door. And yes the girl we all would like to marry if we had to. Even without sex involved she was capable of being a soul mate. Do you think I am a little obsessed?LOL Yes and happily so. :D

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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Speaking of the Graduate. There is a new movie out with Sally Field with similar storyline, Older woman younger man, called Hello My Name Is Doris!! Wow even Doris's name in the title. Doris i believe was wise to turn down The Graduate and missed out on forty Caracts but maybe this new flick would have been the ticket for Doris back in the day. Doris did the older woman younger man thing on her TV series fifth season. So she did her version then.

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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I am probably in the minority, but from the first time I saw "Molly Brown" in a theatre as a grammar school student back in 1964, I could see Doris Day in the role and doing it brilliantly.

I still remember my excitement when Hedda Hopper's syndicated column announced in March of 1962 that MGM had bought the musical and planned to star Doris Day in it. Earl Wilson, Bob Thomas and other entertainment writers reported the news too and it was a plum role.

It should be noted that the stage musical did not contain the amount of dancing the film does. Tammy Grimes originated the role to great acclaim, co-starring with newcomer Harve Presnell who recreated his role in the film. The dancing was put in to accommodate Reynolds. I think we can all admit that as a vocalist Debbie is serviceable but cannot come close to vocalizing the way that Doris Day can. In addition, the stage version made Molly a more complete and winning personality. Debbie played the role as though playing to the third balcony, chewing on the scenery with obvious personal delight but in the process making Molly, at times, almost a caricature.

The film's Director, Charles (Chuck) Walters had directed Doris Day in "Daisies" and at the time of the purchase of "Molly Brown" was in the midst of directing her in "Jumbo". He saw her "Calamity Jane" personae as working well in "Molly Brown" while also see Doris as being able to make Molly a warmly winning and very appealing woman as she discovered love with Johnny Brown. Debbie almost did slapstick in places and had a strange voice she adopted for Molly as well as a strange noise she made frequently during dance numbers. Debbie is energetic but ultimately exhausting and the dance numbers go on way too long and slow the film. With Doris, Molly would have been a more interesting person to spend two hours with. Vocally, too, Doris would have given Meredith Willson's music a better reading with more heart and feeling.

MGM was very high on giving the role to Doris because they were very thrilled about "Jumbo" and how it was going. It was under budget and ahead of schedule by almost a week and most of that was due to Doris Day being "a dream" in Walters words, to work with. In addition, Meredith Willson was very hot due to advance word on the then upcoming movie version of his hit, "The Music Man".

Marty, however, did not think Presnell was "star enough" to support his wife despite his having won wide acclaim for his performance on Broadway. I think Doris and Harve would have sizzled on-screen. The studio offering the role, next, to Shirley MacLaine had nothing to do with the disappointing revenue generated by "Jumbo" despite misinformation claiming that. "Jumbo" was not even released when they offered the role to MacLaine. MGM was set on Presnell for the role of Johnny and quickly grew tired of Marty making demands. Shirley could not get out of a Hal Wallis contract and ultimately the role went to Debbie. Interestingly Debbie offered to reprise the role of Molly Brown for James Cameron in his 1997 film, "Titanic" but Cameron chose Kathy Bates for the part.

Bryan, the Titanic plays a very small role in the film - 5 minutes or less - and not until about 20 minutes before the film's conclusion.

I still think Doris would have won an Oscar (Debbie was nominated) for "Molly Brown" had she played the role. She never resorted to "ham" and would have had the audience rooting for her as she transitioned from tomboy to lady in love - something she could do better than anyone else.

Years later Charles Walters told me that it was one of those missed opportunities, like "South Pacific" for Doris to create a role "for the ages".

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by webmaster »

Interesting, Paul. I was under the impression that the film was set on the Titanic and was looking forward to a more dramatic setting, All that business at the beginning with Debbie on the farm (shades of Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Annie Get Your Gun, etc) and her, as you rightly describe, 'hamming it up' with strange noises and faces and lowering her voice as Doris did in Calamity, but not as effectively, just made it seem ridiculous.

I'm sure you're right that Doris would have made it a much better film - but it seemed a very flimsy affair from the half hour I watched.
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by howard »

Thanks for the information, Paul. Your knowledge of movie history is astonishing. I so enjoy your postings. Keep 'em coming!
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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

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I didn't care for Unsinkable Molly Brown either, Bryan, but watched it all the way through hoping it would get better. Debbie Reynolds' performance was a bit overdone for my taste. Saxophonist Ted Nash once commented that Doris "sings as though she has nothing to prove." That same natural quality which is such a vital part of her singing is also evident in her acting (in most roles). I've no doubt that her Molly Brown would've had a very different personality.

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Re: DORIS DAY AND "THE GRADUATE"

Unread post by Jas1 »

Thanks Paul for the Molly Brown wealth of information.

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