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Posted: 25 Mar 2015, 22:48
You are right about Boyd being dubbed. According to Sydney Guilaroff who did Miss Day's hair for the film, he was originally dubbed by actor/singer Bill Hayes, who'd had a big hit recording of "Davey Crockett" and later married Susan Seaforth when they co-starred on television's "Days of Our Lives". Hayes later sang in the 70's with Ann Blyth on stage.
Producer Joe Pasternak and Director Charles Walters were not happy with the vocals because Hayes was so good but didn't sound like Boyd would have sounded if he could have sung the role and in particular the song, "The Most beautiful Girl in the World" which required a certain vocal expertise. They then brought in James Joyce who did the vocals which melded better with Boyd's lead-in.
In the 70's there were still vocal tracks that Boyd had actually done for a test and which were later discarded. While he clearly understood music, his vocal limitations were such that the big number his character sings would not have been especially effective.
Posted: 26 Mar 2015, 03:08
I thought that Doris and Stephen Boyd must have had an affair as they seemed so intimate in the film, but I read that she and Martha Raye thought that he had skinny legs when they saw him in costume!
Here's a tribute I made five years ago 'Jumbo Meets Carousel'. I know 'The Most Beautiful Girl in the World' is great, this is just an alternative.
And, Paul, Jumbo still made money, didn't it?
PS - I just noticed that a link to this had been posted earlier - sorry, but at least you can watch on here now.
Posted: 26 Mar 2015, 07:58
Bryan - Actually on it's initial release "Jumbo" lost nearly 3.9 million dollars. However, it did eventually recoup its losses thanks to it's sale to television for two primetime broadcasts in the mid-60's. In addition, in the early 70's MGM repackaged several of its past "family oriented films" for Saturday and Sunday matinees across the country. The titles included "Lassie Come Home", "National Velvet" and "Jumbo". "Jumbo" proved to be one of the best received when played. I remember it playing in Concord, NH on a Saturday matinee and the theatre was filled - the same the next afternoon. Later, as part of a multi-picture package syndicated to local television stations, "Jumbo" was one of MGM's selling points for making the package successful. Finally, with video sales and later DVD sales and TCM revenue, it did indeed become profitable. The initial failure of "Jumbo" did not, however prevent the studio from signing Miss Day to a two picture contract in late 1964, for an astronomical salary. The deal yielded two very successful comedies, "The Glass Bottom Boat" and "Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?"
A word about the sale of "Jumbo" for two primetime television airings in the 1960's. Parade Magazine, a weekly insert in US newspapers for many years, did a feature in the 60's about the unprecedented popularity of Doris Day films when shown on either ABC or NBC. ABC had "Sunday Night at the Movies" and NBC had both "Saturday Night at the Movies" and "Monday Night at the Movies". Films were shown, uncut, with commercials but not to the extent that commercials are shown today.
Parade noted that Doris Day films always received well over 40% of the viewing audience and costing the network a million dollars per title , easily winning their two hour time slot and sometimes receiving up to nearly 50% of the television audience, leaving the other 50 - 58% to be divided between the other two networks and Public Broadcasting.
Posted: 05 Sep 2015, 15:21
Billy Rose's Jumbo holds up well as a period romantic musical. The lush score by Rodgers and Hart is always a pleasure to hear. The songs, My Romance, Little Girl Blue are perfect. Doris sounds magical. Stardust, Spangles and Dreams is a fantastic number to close the film. I often listen to this film soundtrack.
This will always be one of my favourite Doris Day films. It is timeless.
Posted: 06 Sep 2015, 12:59
I love "Jumbo" and still recall as a pre-teen, seeing it in the theatre for the first time in early 1963. I was in awe of the film and on the huge cinemascope screen, it was magic. The Rodgers and Hart score is perfection and is performed brilliantly. "Why Can't I" is the perfect melding of Miss Day's style with Martha Raye's and it still has the feel of the MGM classics of years before, thanks in part to Joe Pasternak who understood musicals and what made them work, dating all the way back to his discovery of Deanna Durbin, the star who saved Universal in the 1930's. The camerawork is brilliant and lush and rich and its no wonder since William Daniels had a most impressive career as a cameraman at MGM including being Greta Garbo's favored cinematographer. In another era, it would have been a resounding smash with the public. As I've noted before, musicals were enjoying great popularity at the time but every musical that was a hit at the box-office was based on a recent Broadway hit ("Flower Drum Song", "West Side Story", "Gypsy", "The Music Man", "Bye Bye Birdie", etc.) In the early 60's, a musical written over 25 years earlier, was not a familiar name to moviegoers despite the presence of the biggest box-office star in the world and a recording sensation. To this day, some 52 1/2 years later, I can still hear the audience burst into applause, several times, at the showing I attended. "Jumbo" brilliantly succeeded in transporting all of us in attendance, to a place of safety and magic. Coming as it did, only weeks after all of us were in a very fearful place in October of 1962 because of the Cuban Missile Crisis and the fear that the world we knew would end, "Jumbo" helped restore a sense of peace and stability and a belief that just maybe we'd all be okay.
Posted: 06 Sep 2015, 13:10
Here's what I said about "Jumbo" in a review, 15 years ago. It still holds true and the film holds up beautifully, a real tribute to the love and talent involved in its making:
"Billy Rose's Jumbo" had been planned by MGM as a vehicle for Judy Garland. It never happened but in 1962 MGM polished off the sawdust,spangles, and dreams, gave it to famed producer Joe Pasternak and director Charles Walters, and starred the nation's number one box-office attraction, Doris Day, in the opulent and costly extravaganza. In the midst of an amazing string of box-office bonanzas, "Jumbo" proved to be the one weak spot for Miss Day. It's almost incomprehensible as to why.
"Jumbo", as it's usually known, is one of the most enjoyable musicals turned out in the 1960's, during the waning days of movie musicals. Rodgers and Hart's music has rarely been better performed. The film is replete with romance, comedy, circus acts, and spectacle. Day, Stephen Boyd (and a voice double), Jimmy Durante, and Martha Raye, are matchless.
Durante is owner of the Pop Wonder circus, a small traveling show, that may be sold to the John Noble circus. Noble really wants the Wonder's crown jewel, Jumbo, the elephant. Boyd is the son of Noble, who woos and wins Day, the daughter of Durante. That sums up the storyline but hardly the essence of what makes the film soar.
Doris Day never looked lovelier, in beautiful honey blonde styles by fabled stylist, Sydney Guilaroff. She sings like a dream and did 75% of her own acrobatic and equestrian work. Durante and Raye are a joy, singing, dancing and mugging. Day's duet with Raye is perfect as are her renditions of "My Romance" and "Little Girl Blue".
The disappointing receipts for this film supposedly cost Day the lead in "The Unsinkable Molly Brown" which MGM had purchased with her in mind. It's a shame, because "Jumbo" contains some of the finest work she ever put on film. A treat for children of all ages!!
Posted: 06 Sep 2015, 16:27
Thanks for all that on Jumbo, Paul - most interesting.
I imagine it must have been spectacular to see on a big screen!
Posted: 06 Sep 2015, 16:48
Love it - really nice!!
Posted: 07 Sep 2015, 01:09
Thanks, brother Paul. You always bring us such great news on Doris and her films and recordings. I was in high school when "Jumbo" was released. Some of the kids from my class went to see it and I remember that some of them - one person whose name was Paul also - got a kick out of Doris hugging an elephant.
Thanks for the info that you brought to us in a timely manner!
Posted: 17 Jun 2016, 10:25
In David Kaufman's book it states, "With Day as it's star, the film would be produced by Joe Pasternak and Melcher- with Roger Edens as associte producer. Along with Arthur Freed, Edens had supervised many of the great MGM musicals, including Easter Parade and On The Town. Charles Walters wasn't confirmed as director of Jumbo until the end of March, shortly before the studio announced that Red Skelton had the role pf Pop Wpnder, in the end given to Jimmy Durante. Though producers wanted Richard Buryon as Day's co-star, he was still in Camelot on Broadway and committed to making Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor.
...The other two leads in Jumbo were Durante and Martha Raye. After fifteen years of being relegated to stage, television and nightclub work, Raye was making her motion -picture comeback. The role of Lulu was created for the eccentric comedienne, whose parents were circus acrobats before turning to vaudeville. Jumbo had reunited Raye and Durante more than twenty years after they had worked together at Billy Rose's casino de Paree, a New York nightclub.
Posted: 19 Jun 2016, 08:28
Thanks for that, Johnny. "Jumbo" remains one of my favourite DD films.
I'm glad Durante got the part - and I can't see Richard Burton in the Stephen Boyd role.
It would have been similar to her co starring with Richard Harris (both actors from the "Look Back in Anger" school of acting) - and not a lot of chemistry going on between them. But it could have been interesting!
Posted: 09 Jul 2017, 19:40
Here's an excerpt from "The Other Side of Me," Sidney Sheldon's autobiography, about "Jumbo":
"It had been almost 10 years since I was last on the MGM lot. Joe Pasternak . . . still had the same wonderful exuberance [and had] already signed Doris Day, Martha Raye, and Jimmy Durante. [Said Pasternak], 'In order to get Doris, I had to make Marty Melcher co-producer. Chuck Walters is directing.'
Pasternak suggested that Richard Burton "might be right for the part," and so Sheldon and Walters flew to New York to see Burton in "Camelot" on Broadway. Sheldon hadn't written anything for "Jumbo" yet, but he told the story to Burton, who reportedly said, "I love it and I'm looking forward to working with Doris Day. Call my agent and tell him to make the deal."
MGM met with Burton's agent, who said that Burton was eager to play the male lead. However, when the agent wanted $250,000 for Burton, $50,000 more than he'd been paid on his most recent film, MGM wouldn't agree to it . . . and that's why Stephen Boyd ended up in the role. Wrote Sheldon, "Doris Day was perfect for the part of Kitty Wonder, Stephen Boyd was excellent, and Martha Raye was a delight. But my favorite was Jimmy Durante. Everything went smoothly during the shooting."
Posted: 09 Jul 2017, 20:10
Thank you Musiclover for the great Sidney Sheldon background information on Billy Rose's Jumbo.
It would have been interesting to see Richard Burton and Doris Day work together. Stephen Boyd and Doris look great as a couple.
Posted: 10 Jul 2017, 08:50
Thanks for that Musiclover.
Posted: 10 Jul 2017, 10:27
Terrific info from Sydney Sheldon's book. Thanks for posting that Judy.
Burton would have been an interesting leading man, but I like Boyd in the role. He was handsome, rugged and quite believable as Doris' love interest. Like Bryan, I always thought there was a special chemistry between the two of them, although Boyd was thought to be gay in most Hollywood circles.
Raquel Welch said she tried to seduce him when they were promoting Fantastic Voyage, but Boyd begged off, saying "‘I’d like to tell you a little story that was told to me by John Gielgud when I was working with the National Theatre. You’ll have to think about it for a moment but I hope you get my drift: An actress is a little bit more than a woman, but an actor is a little bit less than a man.’
Posted: 13 Jul 2017, 13:04
Great quote Michael.
Posted: 17 Jul 2017, 16:38
Thanks all, especially Judy, for this. I remember reading that Doris and Martha were a bit put off by his 'skinny legs' when they saw him in tights!
So no romance there with Doris, it seems.
Typical of MM to demand co-producer status on the film. I wonder what he actually produced - apart from Doris agreeing to make the film?
Posted: 18 Jul 2017, 11:15
Bryan, I remember reading that comment about Boyd's skinny legs, too! As to what MM produced, apparently it was a meddlesome environment -- at least directors Alfred Hitchcock and Charles Walters reportedly felt that way, and so did Cary Grant.
Posted: 18 Jul 2017, 11:48
Yes, Martin Meddlesome, the man who almost ruined her career and gambled away her $24m film career earnings.
But, as Doris sang, Que Sera, Sera. Everything, supposedly, happens for a reason.
Posted: 01 Sep 2017, 00:14
Recently I read a little additional "Jumbo" background from a different source, this from Stephen Silverman's biography of Stanley Donan. Silverman wrote that in 1952, immediately after completing Singing in the Rain, director Donan was given the assignment by MGM to adapt "Jumbo" for the screen. "The picture was to star . . Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor, though Freed's [the studio boss] first choices had been Judy Garland and Frank Sinatra." (Personally, I can't imagine any of the 4 of those in the roles.) The project was scrapped, however, when Billy Rose refused to allow changes to the story and score. Silverman opined that the version with Doris and Stephen Boyd was "antiseptic."
Posted: 01 Sep 2017, 05:28
Interesting Musiclover- I could imagine Debbie or Judy playing Kitty Wonder- but not as well as DD.
Posted: 01 Sep 2017, 08:03
Thanks so much Musiclover for the interesting background information on Billy Rose's Jumbo. I could see Judy or Debbie in the Kitty Wonder role. Donald O'Connor and Frank Sinatra don't seem good choices. They seem too urban.
A good part of the magic in 1962's Billy Rose's Jumbo is in the casting of the four leads, Doris, Stephen Boyd, Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye. They are an exceptional ensemble. The music score and casting of real circus performers elevated the realism of circus life in the film.
Posted: 01 Oct 2018, 21:13
In The Doris Day Scrapbook by Alan Gelb, he writes the following about Doris' film, Billy Rose's Jumbo.
Doris hit one for of her all time highs with the musical extravaganza Billy Rose' Jumbo. For many years MGM had owned the rights to the Rodgers and Hart 1935 musical, but they all had been leery about doing it. Jumbo was the show that closed New York's legendary Hippodrome theatre, and it had never been a financial success. It had a huge cast headed by Jimmy Durante and swimmer Eleanor Holm, a staggeringly elaborate staging by George Abbot, and Kohn Murray Anderson and a no-holds barred display of showmanship complete with circus animals provided by producer Billy Rose (who stipulated in the sale to MGM that his name be billed with the title).It took until 1962 for Jumbo to reach the big screen under the aegis of Martin Melcher and veteran Joe Pasternak who was noted for such MGM films as Anchors Aweigh and The Great Caruso.
Jumbo had it's greatest asset, a superb cast: Doris; romantic leading man Stephen Boyd: and the imitable and beloved Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye...
Jumbo's screenplay was by Sidney Sheldon, whose major credit was Oscar-winning script for The Bachelor and The Bobby Soxer, and the director was the eminently capable Charles Walters. Walters who had directed Please Don't Eat The Daisies was particularly noted for his lovely nostalgic musicals, such as Easter Parade, Lili, The Belle of New York, Good News and The Barkleys of Broadway. It was this infusion of nostalgia that Walters shot into Jumbo that made it ultimately such an affecting movie experience....
Jumbo is full of superb musical numbers. Charles Walters had been a dancer and a choreographer before becoming a director and his feeling for the musical numbers is thoroughly apparent. He was immeasurably helped by second-unit director Busby Berkley, the architect of musical spectacles from The Golddiggers to Esther Williams. Together they created stunning work. The score as well was a major factor as well with some of Rodgers and Hart's greatest songs.
As with The Pajama Game, Jumbo gave Doris one of her few on screen opportunities to really let loose musically. Doris sang the ballads lovingly and she also had a great duet called Why Can't I? with Martha Raye, whom some may recall as one of the most distinctive song stylists around. All of the numbers are imaginatively staged, but none more than the thrilling finale, Sawdust, Spangles and Dreams in which the four principles join forces to create a gorgeous dreamlike definition of the circus.
Durante, Raye and Boyd are first-class, but the backbone of the film was provided by Doris. This is one of her most natural performances, recalling some of the qualities she brought to Calamity Jane and The Pajama Game.
Jumbo was a grand showcase and it captured the spirit of the circus a great deal more effectively than did C.B. DeMille's Overblown The Greatest Dhow On Earth.
Posted: 07 Oct 2018, 05:09
This film has some great music. You probably know that there are three rare versions of the music. They are found by Michael Mckenna and shared/added by him to YouTube.
This Can't Be Love - Doris Day
Why Can't I - Doris Day & Martha Raye
My Romance - Doris Day
Posted: 07 Oct 2018, 13:44
I don't recall hearing the alternative versions. Thanks so much for posting them. I loved the comment on My Romance recognizing the true depth of Doris' talent.
I am looking forward to watching Billy Rose's Jumbo on TCM this afternoon at 5:45 p.m. eastern time. I commented before that the more I see this film, the more I realize how underappreciated it is.