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Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 18 Jan 2019, 17:47
by jmichael
Bryan, you are exactly right about Thomas. He always played himself.


Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 18 Jan 2019, 19:57
by Johnny
It is interesting to note that despite the criticism directed at Where Were You When The Lights Went Out, 41 DD Forum members rated the film average or better while 9 rated it poor.

The film earned $7,988,000 at the box office in the US, making it the 16th highest-grossing film of 1968.

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 19 Jan 2019, 05:21
by Jas1
I'm pleased to read the film did well - however, I just don't particularly like it.

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 19 Jan 2019, 08:39
by jmichael
On a Doris Day fan board, you're going to find people who love everything she does. If a film stars Doris Day, it is a good film simply because she's in it. I feel that way about April In Paris (a meh movie but bearable because Doris brings it to life) and even Caprice to some degree because Doris elevates the flimsy material.

Some movies that did not receive favorable critical reviews or do well at the box-office rated high with forum members:

Caprice: 83% voted it average, good to excellent w/ 10% of the voters rating it Excellent.

Josie: 83% voted it average, good to excellent w/ 11% rating it Excellent.

Tunnel Of Love: 76% voted it average, good to excellent w/ 12% rating it Excellent.

At the other end of the spectrum, 5% of the voters rated Love Me Or Leave Me as Poor. Say what?


Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 19 Jan 2019, 13:40
by Jas1
I agree Michael - I'd watch Doris reading a restaurant menu! However, I can appreciate which of her films I don't care for [very few], which i like, which i love etc.

As for the lady herself, well, she blows me away and always has - I adore her, everything about her.

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 19 Jan 2019, 17:15
by Johnny
I am loving this discussion on Where Were You When The Lights Went Out. Isn't it wonderful that a fifty year old film starring Doris Day can be a catalyst for so many valid points of view?

This discussion has made me think of other popular, award nominated films in the past (it is nominations season), that were critical and\ or commercial successes but I disliked for various reasons. I would be interested in seeing if other forum members have similar experiences.

I will introduce in OFF Topics a discussion on:Award Nominated Films Disliked

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 21 Jan 2019, 05:25
by jmichael
I don't hate this film but it was beneath her abilities.

The first time I felt that way was when I saw Do Not Disturb. In spite of the decent production values, respectable supporting cast, and Doris looking like dynamite, the script and direction were weak. Even someone as charismatic and charming as Doris Day can only do so much to offset threadbare material. As I've said before, the mid-sixties was a critical juncture in her film career. She needed to shake things up by finding better scripts, working with up and coming directors and accepting more challenging roles. The most beloved stars can fall back on their bag of tricks only so many times before audiences grow weary and move on to the next big thing. In Doris' case, she had the range to play a variety of roles that would have kept her film career going another ten years.


Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 21 Jan 2019, 12:12
by howard
I saw "Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?" at a preview in New York City. Believe it or not, the film had the audience rolling in the aisles. They seemed to love it! Go figure!

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 14 Jun 2019, 14:56
by howard
To anyone interested in purchasing a dvd of "Lights:" Place your bid on ebay - the dvd is available. I believe it can be viewed in English ... it's described as: Region Code: DVDr: 0/All (Region Free/Worldwide).

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 15 Jun 2019, 09:08
by paul
I feel compelled to once again come to the defense of "Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?".

I know my opinion is based on my own experiences of seeing the film when it came out, but it is not nearly the horrific motion picture that some might believe it to be. However, there are circumstances under which you MUST see it to fully appreciate it.

I hasten to add that it is far from being a "Pillow Talk" or "The Thrill of it All" or "Teacher's Pet" to name just a few of Miss Day's far superior comedies. However, the fact that it grossed nearly double the combined box-office take of "Caprice" and "The Ballad of Josie" would indicate that it is worthy of more than a passing mention.

Yes, the script is slight but the production values are very good and the cast all do more than capable jobs.

During its six weeks at New York City's Radio City Music Hall, more than 600,000 people saw the movie and the lines regularly included a two hour wait to get in. I know, because our family was on vacation in NYC and we waited and waited and waited. And it was worth it, although I'd already seen the film some months earlier when it was test screened for movie exhibitors prior to release.

The secret to enjoying "WWYWTLWO" is seeing it with an audience. Watching it on video or years ago when it was screened on television (Including on "NBC Monday Night at the Movies" in 1971 where it was the highest rated movie screened during that time period), will not enable you to experience the film at its best.

My mom, who is 95, still remembers driving me to that 1968 exhibitor screening in Massachusetts. I was year away from having a driver's license. Yesterday she recalled, "I don't remember laughing so hard during a movie as I did at that one. Your Aunt Dot and I were laughing until the tears were rolling down our face..."

I remember sitting in that theater with those exhibitors and guests and watching several hundred people laugh and applaud the sleeping potion scene. The audience reaction cards were unanimously favorable afterwards.

Several months later when we saw it again, with the whole family, at Radio City, the reaction from the 6,000 people in attention just about blew the roof off the place.

No, it is not a classic but I think if Miss Day had ever seen it with a large audience, her opinion would have been different. She NEVER saw the film - she told me this. I didn't encourage it at that juncture because she'd have been watching it by herself or with a small group and the effect of the large audience would have not been there.

The movie did well on release - NOT GREAT and nowhere near "Eggroll" territory, but in early August, Variety rated it as the 3rd top-moneymaking movie in America during one week. In Boston it was very popular at the Paramount Theatre (I took a bus to Boston to watch it with another audience). In Concord, NH at the small single screen theater I worked at (499 seats), it was also popular.

Normally in Concord we still did split weeks (Sunday - Tuesday and another feature Wednesday - Saturday). "Lights", however, went a full week and the owner asked that it be extended a second week but the print was promised elsewhere. On Saturday night, we had two evening shows and both drew just over 400 people.

When it finally played Concord in October of 1968, it was following a run at another theater of "Eggroll" which had been hugely successful, and was competing with "The Doris Day Show" which had started it's CBS run, and yet "Lights" still drew strongly.

I reiterate that this is no masterpiece but I hate the fact that it has been decimated so regularly. With a crowd, it has some real moments and the sleeping potion scene is one of the most hilarious scenes Doris Day ever committed to celluloid.

A note about Radio City Music Hall. While the film took in over 1.3 million during its 6 week run, the amount that goes back to the studio is very small. In other words, about $ 300,000 of the money brought in, went to MGM and was reflected in box-office numbers. Why?

Every theater had a "house expense" - the amount it takes to keep the theater open each week. In the case of Radio City, that amount was enormous. The staff - hundreds of ushers, box-office personnel, etc. Electricity, heat, air conditioning and the biggest of all - paying the Rockettes and stand-by dancers as well as more than 40 musicians, the stage crew, all union, and on and on and on. In those days, the house expense ran about $ 120,000 per week. So Radio City takes that off the top of the $ 278,000 that "Lights" brought in the first week. That leaves about $ 150,000 which is evenly split - $ 75,000 to the Music Hall for profit and $ 75,000 to MGM.

The house expense remains the same as the grosses dip during a run. In the last week it took in about
$ 160,000 meaning after house expenses, there was about $ 40,000 to split between Radio City and MGM.

Playing at Radio City was more a status thing than a profit maker. If you could advertise your movie as "Direct from it's engagement at New York's Radio City Music Hall the Showplace of the Nation" your film was deemed very special. That helped to sell it elsewhere.

For Christmas of 1963, the Music Hall wanted to play "Move Over, Darling" as their holiday release. However, Fox looked at the weekly expense - much higher during the Christmas Show because of the costs associated with the Living Nativity and other Christmas specials - and realized that they'd not be getting that much into their coffers. Thus they declined, although it would have been the 7th Doris Day release in a row to play the Music Hall. Universal's "Charade" became the Christmas picture and "Move Over, Darling" was released into a couple of Manhattan theaters at the same time, bringing markedly more to Fox than if they'd played it at the Music Hall.

Since there will probably NEVER be a chance of seeing "Lights" with a large audience again, you'll have to take my word and Howard's word, that with a large audience, there are some very, very funny moments and it is not nearly the mess you might assume.

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 15 Jun 2019, 10:44
by Johnny
Thank you Howard for the eBay info on Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? It is the only Doris Day film missing from my collection.

Thank you Paul for your excellent perspective on "Lights". The only time I saw this film was in a theater and it was with my dad. He always said after seeing a Doris film, "Doris never disappoints". I believe this to be true since Doris is the consummate professional that does the best she can with the material she is given. Compared to other Doris films, perhaps this film does disappoints but looking at Doris' 39 films, some enjoyment can be found in everyone of them. Doris' film comedies are much brighter and funnier than some of the crude humour and degrading sexist behaviour that is found in today's comedies.

Sharing a movie experience with others broadens and informs our own views as the Doris Day Forum does.

It would be interesting to hear how accurately Where Were You When The Lights Went Out? captured the November 9th 1965 blackout event.

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 15 Jun 2019, 12:35
by paul
Thanks Johnny for your subsequent remarks to my post. Below is the list of top moneymaking films in the United States for the week of August 14, 1968 in the order of their popularity per Variety.

ROSEMARY’S BABY Mia Farrow, John Cassavetes

FOR LOVE OF IVY Sidney Poitier, Abbey Lincoln


HANG ‘EM HIGH Clint Eastwood, Inger Stevens

2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY Keir Dullea, Gary Lockwood

THE ODD COUPLE Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau

THE DETECTIVE Frank Sinatra, Lee Remick

GONE WITH THE WIND Clark Gable, Vivien Leigh [Re-issue]

THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR Steve McQueen, Faye Dunaway

THE GRADUATE Dustin Hoffman, Anne Bancroft

Complete US Box Office Charts (week-by-week)
from Variety magazine are available here: ... 071GM8FLZ/

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 15 Jun 2019, 14:01
by howard
Thanks for your posting, Paul. Your postings are always so informative and interesting! After having read it, I've got to whip out my copy of the film and watch it again.

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 17 Jun 2019, 11:57
by Jas1
Thanks Paul for the fabulous info.

Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 10 Dec 2019, 18:31
by Johnny
In David Kaufman's book on Doris, it states'

"When Where Were You When The Lights Went Out opened May 30, 1968, the reviewers were every bit as cruel to Day as they had been upon the release of her previous picture, The Ballad of Josie. "it's almost pointless to complain almost yet another Doris Day movie, except to underline what can happen when an actress chooses to freeze her image ", complained Arthur Knight in a commentery in Saturday Review, typical of the lambasting the film took."

In a later part of this chapter 30 called Night for Day, it quotes Boston Globe columnist Marjorie Adams:
"But you'll have to admit there an anti-Doris Day contingent among 1967-68 movie goers"

"The anti Doris Day stance was all too real. a Day's film career was fast coming to a close in 1968, a harshly negative attitude became prevalent among cultural arbiters who lumped her vastly superior fare from the 1950s and early 1960s with the latter dross. The anti-Doris Day attitude would inform her reputation for generations to cime-- except, of course, with her Legion of fans."

Paul's post on comes to mind regarding seeing Where Were You When The Lights Went Out in a theater with a large audience laughing out loud frequently. It ranked 16th in the 1968 box office stats. It is important to know that Doris' fans remained loyal both to her films and her successful TV series The Doris Day Show.

It is fair to offer criticism on film screenplays, direction, acting and all of the aspects in the making of the film. It is never acceptable or professional to personally attack the performers.

Doris remained true to her beliefs and values in being a professional. She stayed focused on the work and did not play the Hollywood game. She could be found at a baseball game instead of a Hollywood party.

Doris remains an important Hollywood legend and icon. The criticisms of her films have faded in importance over time.

Where Were You When The Lights Went Out is the one Doris Day film that is truly difficult to find on DVD. There is a video for sale on Amazon for the asking price of $180.00.

I came across on Amazon a used Doris Day Paper Dolls book , condition "acceptable" , with an asking price of $5000, 00.


Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 13 Dec 2019, 11:22
by jmichael
Maybe the most positive to say about WWYWTLWO is that it affirmed her enduring popularity with moviegoers. Her name alone assured audiences they would have a good time at the movies.


Re: Where Were You When the Lights Went Out?

Posted: 20 Feb 2020, 09:49
by Jas1
Agree Michael.