Warner Bros promote their new star, Doris Day
With the success of Romance on the High Seas and My Dream is Yours, Doris Day was rushed into her third picture with Jack Carson. This time, she received billing over Carson, but just behind Dennis Morgan, who was top-billed. He had just appeared with Jane Wyman in The Lady Takes a Sailor and was an important star on the lot. Morgan had a beautiful tenor voice and was one of the studio’s most reliable musical personalities.
Filmed in Technicolor, It’s a Great Feeling was aimed at attracting a larger audience for Doris Day, whom the studio was building into their next big star. Ironically, Bette Davis, after more than 20 years with the studio, was trying desperately to leave and threatened to shut down Beyond the Forest unless she was released from her contract. Day had no such problems. She was riding high and had the studio backing that a new star needed to succeed in Hollywood in 1949.
In his effort to get Day seen by vast audiences, producer Alex Gottlieb contracted practically every star on Warner Bros. lot to make a guest appearance in the picture for wider appeal. Since the setting for the film was a movie lot, it was easy to assume that you’d see celebrities wandering about the sound stages. It also afforded Day the opportunity to perform brief scenes with some of the legends of the film world. Stars in cameo appearances included Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Errol Flynn, Danny Kaye, Patricia Neal, Ronald Reagan, Edward G. Robinson, and Jane Wyman.
It’s A Great Feeling is an up musical comedy centering around Jack Carson, playing himself, unable to find a director for his new film after Raoul Walsh, King Vidor, Michael Curtiz and David Butler (all playing themselves) have turned down the chance to work with Carson. Morgan was to be his co-star.
Judy Adams (Day), a waitress in the studio commissary, begs for an audition for his picture. Impressed with her, Carson and Morgan must convince Arthur Trent (Bill Goodwin) to produce the film using an unknown actress. They connive to sponsor an official dinner party to welcome a French movie star (Judy, complete with black wig and French accent), but the party is a disaster. Day is wonderful in this comedic scene.
When the ruse fails, a disillusioned Judy heads back home on the train. Producer Trent is a passenger on the same train and, when he hears her singing the glorious ballad Blame My Absent-minded Heart, he offers her a movie contract. (James Garner remembered seeing this scene with other GIs when he was in the service, and he fell in love with Doris Day. Little did he know that he’d be co-starring with her just over a decade later.)
Day had two important careers going – movies and recordings – and was on her way to becoming a superstar. Although it didn’t win, the title song from the picture, written by Sammy Cahn and Jule Styne, was nominated for Best Song at Oscar time.
Ralph McKnight, New York
Doris Day did not consider this film as much of a picture, but she was enjoying the role of movie actress and it came naturally to her. She also liked the regular hours of the studio, compared to the late night hours she had spent on the bandstand for several years.
In her book, Doris Day My Story, she says:
I enjoyed playing and singing for the cameras and I guess that enjoyment came through on the screen and somehow communicated itself to the audience and made them feel good too. When the camera turned, instead of suffering the agonies that always preceded radio and stage appearances, I easily and rather happily responded to whatever was demanded of me; I had no inhibitions, no doubts, no hangups.”
One of the film’s guest stars, Joan Crawford was asked by studio boss Jack Warner to play Doris’ sister in the film Storm Warning; Joan declined saying “Come on, Jack. No one would ever believe that I would have Doris Day for a sister!” – JoanCrawfordbest.com
“Produced by Alex Gottlieb and directed by David Butler, it has all the ingredients necessary to keep audiences. There are several good songs sung in turn by Morgan, Carson and Miss Day; there is a fantasy dance routine expertly and lavishly performed by the Mazzone-Abbott Dancers; there’s a story with a Hollywood background which takes the audience on an unofficial tour of the behind-the-scenes operations in a big film studio; and finally, for the gag and surprise effect, there’s a supporting cast gathered from the Warner Studio roster of stars, which included Gary Cooper, Joan Crawford, Jane Wyman, Ronald Reagan, Edward G. Robinson and Errol Flynn.” – Motion Picture Herald
Guest appearances: Gary Cooper, Edward G. Robinson, Joan Crawford, Danny Kaye, Errol Flynn, Ronald Reagan, Jane Wyman, Eleanor Parker, Patricia Neal, Michael Curtiz, Sydney Greenstreet, Patricia Neal, and King Vidor.
“The story, of course, is hackneyed: girl, working as a waitress (Doris Day), wants to get into movies, meets struggling director (Jack Carson) whom nobody likes, but who just happens to have a big-time singing star (Dennis Morgan) ready to help.
Okay, the story sucks but the dialog is great and Jack Carson was always the guy to deliver perfect one-liners perfectly. I lost count of the number of times the dialog poked fun at every aspect of Hollywood life. And, the sight gags with the many and varied cameos are spot on, the stand-out performances coming from Gary Cooper, Edward G. Robinson and – how could anybody miss her? – Joan Crawford. And, look, if like me you don’t like Dennis Morgan’s singing, just turn off the sound for a minute or two and grab your next beer from the cooler.” – Legendary Joan Crawford