Saturday, February 4, 2017

Jack Carson and Doris Day have a... Romance on the High Seas (1948)

In 1948, Doris Day wasn't yet a star. At age 23, she had found success with the Les Brown Band thanks to her hit recording of "Sentimental Journey" and she became a regular on Bob Hope's radio show. Oddly enough, though, her career was also coming to a stall. She had divorced her violent first husband Al Jorden in 1943 and she would be divorced from her second husband, George Weidler, by 1949. Day was ready to give up and leave Los Angeles when her agent Al Levy persuaded her to go to a party at composer Jule Styne's house. Styne and his partner Sammy Cahn loved Day's voice and urged her to audition for the movie they were working on: Romance on the High Seas.

Warner Bros. had been having difficulty in finding their leading lady for the film. Their first plan had been to borrow the queen of musicals, Judy Garland, from MGM. When that didn't work, they tried to get Betty Hutton from Paramount, but she had to opt out due to pregnancy. In a wonderful 2012 video for TCM, Day recalls auditioning for director Michael Curtiz -- she claims, though, that at the time she thought she was just helping another actor audition for a part! Other sources say that Curtiz had the singer perform something to convince him she could carry a musical. When she broke down midway through "Embraceable You" due to the issues in her personal life, Curtiz was won over by her fresh looks and authenticity.