The West Point Story

You are invited to rate and comment on the 39 films of Doris Day.

How do you rate The West Point Story?

Poor
1
3%
Average
17
45%
Good
15
39%
Excellent
5
13%
 
Total votes: 38

TCMMovieFan
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Re: The West Point Story

Unread post by TCMMovieFan »

I always liked Virginia Mayo though I did not know much about her.
I came to know her films rather late. TCM really introduced me to her work though I had heard her name. I feel that I was born too late and really missed being able to go to the movies and see these people when they were active. Even with Doris - I saw her in the films when I was a little kid and she was nearing the end of her film career.
After that - I was not really interested in movie going----how can one top a Doris or a Virginia, et al ?

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Ania
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Re: The West Point Story

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Image Image Image Image Image Image Image Image

Ania
I LOVE YOU DORIS♥

“You haven't lived until you've lived with a cat.” Doris Day
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Johnny
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Re: The West Point Story

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After seeing West Point Story again, I had forgotten how really funny James Cagney is in this film. Although the story is a stretch, the performances of all the actors are committed and lively. The music is charming, especially Gordon Mac Rae's Long Before I knew You. Doris Day is at her vivacious best singing the Military Polka. She looks extraordinarily beautiful in this number. Virginia Mayo is a good strong match for James Cagney's character. The precision dancing of Gene Nelson in The Toy Trumpet is a good fit for the film. He is terrific to watch.
Whatever the story lacks is made up for by the fun in the performances especially James Cagney. When he enrolls as a cadet and his superior tells him to pull in his, "chins" including, "another wrinkle", it is a laugh out- loud moment.
All- in -all, a good time.
Johnny

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Johnny
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Re: The West Point Story

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In tom Santopietro's book, Considering Doris Day he write about West Point Story:

"Exactly two moments of musical interest exist here. The first occurs (in a thankless role as Cadet Hal Courtland) Gene Nelson whirls through a fast tap in his limber loose style. The second is when Doris Day tap dances- unfortunately briefly with Cagney and matches him step for step every of the way. This brief minute shows what the film could have and should have been -two great stars bringing out the best in each other.
The pleasure , alas, would like a full five years in the future with Love Me or Leave Me.

I would like to add that filming West Point Story in colour would have been beneficial.
Johnny

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Peter Flapper
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Re: The West Point Story

Unread post by Peter Flapper »

Hi there,

Don't care much for the story, but the actors are great. Love, Love, Love: 'The Millatery Polka" with Doris and Gordon MacRae... Wish they mixed both voices more. Doris looks so happy on camera there. Like the storytelling in the song: "By The Kissing Rock"... Great fun moments.

P

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Johnny
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Re: The West Point Story

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As reported in David Kaufman's book: Doris started filming West Point Story in the first week in June 1950. It was at this time she settled into her new home at Toluca Lake.This is something Doris always yearned for her family.

On June 23-1950, Doris was promoted in a Hedda Hopper column as "the girl next door". Martin Melcher is quoted as saying, "Her greatest quality besides her talent is her complete naturalness".

Doris did not want to do West Point Story but her performance in the film does not show this.
___ Cagney And Virginia Mayo In The West Point Story (1950) on Pinterest.jpg
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Johnny

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howard
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Re: The West Point Story

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No matter how bad the vehicle may be, (like "West Point Story") Doris always gave the role her all.
Like Irene Dunne done.

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Musiclover
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Re: The West Point Story

Unread post by Musiclover »

Right you are. One of the many attributes I've always admired about Doris is her tremendous work ethic.

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Johnny
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Re: The West Point Story

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There is some interesting background information on The West Point Story in an article by Stephanie Thames on the TCM website.

The West Point Story was released on December 22, 1950.

"Joining Cagney in The West Point Story are Virginia Mayo as his girlfriend, Gordon MacRae as the writer and Doris Day as the star of the show. Cagney and Mayo were just coming from White Heat, their first movie together. But because Cagney had to have dances choreographed and to practice the numbers, he moved on to make Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye. Cagney practiced with a stand-in for Mayo under the direction of choreographer John Boyle. Cagney's dance partner (who he simply referred to by her last name Godfrey in his autobiography) was also said to have helped choreograph B'KLYN one of the best numbers in The West Point Story. But her efforts remained uncredited, much to Cagney's regret. He called the dancer one of the uncredited Hollywood crew people who made the pictures what they are". But using a stand- in caused more problems than just missing credits. It seems the young dancer was lighter and smaller than Virginia Mayo. And at 5'6 Cagney was not a big man. So dancing with the heavier Mayo put a twist in the dance steps. As Mayo remembered, " It was a little problem, yes that looked quite big at the time because I was a good head taller than the young lady choreographer and weighed a lot more. But we worked it out". This meant Cagney ended up wearing heels to make up the height difference. Apparently Cagney also had issues with dance director LeRoy Prinz, who in the actor's opinion "didn't know one foot from the other, he hated me". He knew , I was on to him".

But co-star Doris Day didn't hate Cagney and the feeling was mutual. In The West Point Story, their first movie together, Cagney was immediately struck by Day's talent, saying, she had " the ability to project the simple, direct statement of a simple direct idea without cluttering it". Cagney was delighted to be paired with Day again in Love Me or Leave Me (1955), the real life story of torch singer Ruth Etting. In this picture, for the first time since the first time since 1939, Cagney would receive second billing to Day's starring turn. But billing didn't matter much when it came Oscar time, Love Me or Leave Me picked up one Academy Award for Best Writing, and netted six more nominations including a Best Actor for Cagney.

Looking back, Day would remember The West Point Story as "an idiot picture", in which most of her scenes were with Gordon MacRae instead of Cagney. But Cagney himself would reflect on it more fondly , saying, " It is one of my favorite pictures. Cornball as hell but don't let anyone tell me those songs by Jules Styne and Sammy Cahn aren't worth listening to. They were worth dancing to".

I think James Cagney assessment of Doris' talent so early in her career is brilliant. In essence, Cagney saw how Doris' simple, direct ability to communicate without "clutter" is the hallmark of Doris' career in film and music. It is the same clarity and simplicity that is captured in the Bob Willoughby pictures so beautifully evident in the Doris Day Forum banner.
Johnny

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Peter Flapper
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Re: The West Point Story

Unread post by Peter Flapper »

Hi Johnny,

This is a well written peace about The West Point Story. I love the chemistry between Doris and James. And yes they haven't much scenes together. The songs are nice, the story is a little bit lame, a highlight for me is the scene with James, Doris & Gordon in The Military Polka.

Thanks for writing,

P

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Johnny
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Re: The West Point Story

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James Cagney remarked that The West Point Story was one of his favourite films. He said the story was " cornball as hell, but don't let anyone tell me those songs by Sammy Cahn and Jule Stein aren't worth listening to. They were worth dancing to". This was reported in an article by Stephanie Thames on the TCM website.


In The West Point Story nine of the fourteen songs are by Sammy Cahn and Jule Stein. They are:
It's Raining Sundrops
By The Kissing Rock
Long Before I Knew You
This Is The Finale
Ten Thousand Four Hundred and Thirty-Two Sheep
The Military Polka
You Love Me
B'klyn
It Could Only Happen in Brooklyn

Doris sings three of these Cahn-Styne songs and dances with James Cagney to The Military Polka.

The opening and closing Cahn-Styne song numbers are danced ny James Cagney and Virginia Mayo.

Two of the four songs sung by Gotdon MacRae are sung with Doris. You Love Me was sung by Gordon twice.

Long Before I Knew You was sung by Gordon MacRae and danced beautifully by Gene Nelson.

Additional music included the first number, Alma Mater by Paul Reinecke and sung by the chorus.

There was a sensational dance number by Gene Nelson dancing to The Toy Trumpet. Music is by
Raymond Scott.

Traditional Semper Fidelis music is by John Philip Sousa and is marched to by the cadets.

The West Point Story received two Academy Award nominations. Ray Heindorf was nominated for Best Music and Scoring of a Musical Picture. John Monks Jr., Charles Hoffman and Irving Wallace were nominated for a Writers Guild of America award for Best Written American Musical.

The box office for The West Point Story according to Warner Bros. records, the film earned $2,890,000 domestically and $744,000 foreign. The budget for the film was $1,632,000.

Going back to James Cagney's remarks about The West Point Story, I agree both with his assessment about the story and the music. Although it is not a great film, the music and the performers are enjoyable to watch.

It makes me wonder what audience expectations were in 1950-1951 when it came to musical films. It is a period right after World War 2 when life was very different from today.
Johnny

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Jas1
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Re: The West Point Story

Unread post by Jas1 »

I don't really "dig" this film but I love Doris singing "5000 sheep" - and know all the words and quite often sing it myself.

I didn't sleep again last night, and I'd like to discuss the matter....

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Musiclover
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Re: The West Point Story

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I agree, Jas -- a very clever and catchy lyric that Doris delivered perfectly.

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jmichael
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Re: The West Point Story

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Johnny wrote: " I think James Cagney assessment of Doris' talent so early in her career is brilliant. In essence, Cagney saw how Doris' simple, direct ability to communicate without "clutter" is the hallmark of Doris' career in film and music. It is the same clarity and simplicity that is captured in the Bob Willoughby pictures so beautifully evident in the Doris Day Forum banner."

Johnny, this is perfectly stated. It is the same quality that made her singing style so unique and affecting. She cut right through to the heart. This may explain why Doris has been underrated as an actress and especially as a singer. Her directness is sometimes mistaken for a lack of technique or sophistication, neither of which applies at all to what she does. What she delivers seems effortless. You never see or hear the seams. None of the hard work or preparation is evident in the performance. It's almost as if she glides though everything without any strain or effort. I think Cary Grant had a similar quality on screen. He made it look so easy that people took what he did for granted (pardon the pun).

By the way, has anyone else noticed that one of the backup singers in the Ten Thousand Sheep number is a ringer for Jay Leno?

Michael
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Jas1
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Re: The West Point Story

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Have to check that one out Michael. :oops:

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Johnny
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Re: The West Point Story

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I have been researching the original reviews on Doris' films to see how they were received at the time of their release.

The West Point Story has been critisized frequently in more recent books and articles. Admittedly it is not a the top of the list of Doris' best films. However, the comment from James Cagney saying
The West Point Story "is one of my favourite films" prompted me to search out original reviews.

Cagney described it as, "Cornball as hell, but don't let anyone tell me those songs by Sammy Cahn and Jule Stein aren't worth listening to. They were worth dancing to". This was reported by Stephanie Thames on the TCM website.

With this in mind I discovered a review on The West Point Story in The New York Times dated December 23 - 1950. The headline by critic Bosley Crowther reads: "Cagney Sparkles in Warners' Musical, The West Point Story, at the Strand"


" If everything about The West Point Story were anywhere as good as Jimmy Cagney is in it, this Warners' Musical show, which trooped yesterday onto the Strand's screen, would be the top musical of the year. For the estimable Mr. Cagney is in rare good form in this film, singing, dancing, and wisecracking in his most electrifying style and put on a show of braggadocio that makes one tingle with gleeful delight. As a hot - tempered Broadway holder who reluctantly takes on a job coaching and directing the annual West Point cadet show, Mr. Cagney struts brazenly and brashley through a rah-rah Army romantic script which bears a striking resemblance to those of several previous West Point films. He barks at the the embryo generals because he has strong distast e for "brass", he tries to change the rules of the academy and he makes things exciting all around.

Finally he has to prove the gumption, he endeavors to live the life of a cadet -- which, of course, is slightly fantastic but is good for ordinary laughs. And he does an odd job of playing cupid which might be better overlooked. But what he does best is play the wiseguy, the strictly from Broadway kid, and knock off a couple of numbers that have vitality to burn.

With the beautifully shaped Virginia Mayo as his professional associate and patient girl, he does some athletic dancing routines to a tune naturally tagged, "The Wishing Rock". And, likewise with the beautous Miss Mayo and a whole gang of chorus boys, he whips out an impudent fandango called "Brooklyn", which lauds a pulsing burough.

The measure of Mr. Cagney's impact on the whole tenuous show is patently indicated when he is not on the screen. For then the thing sags in woeful
fashion, the romance becomes absurb and the patriotic chest-thumping becomes chorus boy parade. And this is despite some vigorous punching on the part of the bright young thing named Doris Day and some very sincere and manly acting from handsome Gordon MacRae.

Miss Day has a cheerful personality. She sings a song trippinggly, especially a novelty number by Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn, "Ten Thousand Sheep". And Mr. MacRae stands up boldly as a style - cut musical juvenile. Also Gene Nelson is a dancer who cuts some high - stepping capers as a cadet and Alan Hale Jr. bugles coyly as overweight comedy relief. However, the show is Mr. Cagney' s --
as much as there is of it. And he makes it twirl like a baton when he has it in his veteran hands. "

This review is a well deserved tribute to the talents of the legendary James Cagney. I don't recall reading another review on The West Point Story that was so positive.

The film received two Academy Award nominations
in 1951. Ray Heindorf was nominated for Best Music Scoring of a Musical Picture. John Monks Jr. , Charles Hoffman and Irving Wallace were nominated for a Writer's Guild of America award for Best Written Musical.

The budget for the film was $1,632,000. The film earned $2, 890,000.

The next time I watch The West Point Story, I will try to watch and appreciate it through the eyes of Bosley Crowther. It is so easy to be dismissive of great talent and focus on the negative.

The connection made between James Cagney and Doris Day on The West Point Story may have been the catalyst for them reteaming in Love Me or Leave Me.
Johnny

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