Romance On The High Seas

ROMANCE ON THE HIGH SEAS, a breezy 1948 Technicolor musical-comedy, was intended as a vehicle for the popular Betty Hutton, but the brassy blonde bowed out due to pregnancy. After going through a slew of replacement interviews, director Michael Curtiz, given a look at Doris Day, dropped the hammer: “This is it. This is the most everything dame I have ever seen.” Duly endorsed, the effervescent 26-year-old singer got her first acting job. Though 4th-billed, after Jack Carson, Janis Paige and Don DeFore, she had the biggest part, and aced her new medium like it was second nature.

After several anniversaries and their vacation plans fall victim to business deals, ‘Elvira’ (Paige) suspects husband ‘Michael’ (DeFore) has something besides work going on. He in turn thinks she’s not playing straight, and hires ‘Peter’ (Carson), a private detective, to follow her on a South American cruise she’s booked, one that yet another business deal keeps him from. She has hired ‘Georgia’ (Day), a travel-dreaming club singer, to impersonate her, hoping to catch hubby playing cat & mouse on home turf. On the ship and in ports of call like Havana and Rio, Georgia and Peter fool themselves while fooling each other over the foolishness of their employers.

Light fun, with a screenplay by the Epstein brothers, Julius J. & Philip G., with some additional dialogue from I.A.L. Diamond, it’s easy on the eyes, and Carson and Paige are always worth watching (Defore more of a snore), but mainly it makes a nifty showcase for Doris, who has a killer smile, sings like a bird and is engagingly funny when affecting a hoity toity Upper West Side manner to suggest snooty social status. Slipped in as second bananas are Oscar Levant (popular during the period; someone tell me why), and Warner’s resident and overused cuddler, S. Z. Sakall.

Two Oscar nominations popped up, for Ray Heindorf’s scoring, and the song “It’s Magic”, which became a hit for Day. The relatively expensive ($2,532,000) production grossed $5,800,000, tagging 51st place for the year. Day and Carson synched so well that Warner’s put them back together the following year in two more musicals, My Dream Is Yours (Curtiz directing) and It’s A Great Feeling: DD’s new career firmly off & running.

Others on board include Fortunio Bonanova, Eric Blore, Franklin Pangborn, Leslie Brooks (alluring blonde ex-model with a too-brief acting career), Sir Lancelot, Grady Sutton. 99 minutes.


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