Starring: Doris Day, Howard Keel, Allyn Ann McLerie
Director: David Butler
Running Time: 101 mins
Calamity Jane is an American film following the classic Wild West heroine and her romance with Wild Bill Hickok, as well as Jane’s attempts to keep a hold on her saloon after a slew of disappointing acts.
This is a pretty fun film. It’s bright and spirited from start to finish, featuring a collection of hugely enjoyable songs, wonderful performances and delightful costume and production design. Whilst its story isn’t quite as fascinating or entertaining in its final act, I have to say that I had a lot of fun with Calamity Jane.
The best part of the whole film is definitely the performances. In the lead role, Doris Day is fantastic, putting in a smiley and happy show whilst still pulling off the short-tempered Calamity Jane brilliantly. Her acting is the main source for the film’s heaps of energy and joy, and when combined with some great singing along the way, she’s a wonderful protagonist to follow.
Alongside her, there are a good few supporting performances too. Howard Keel is as cool as ever, and works brilliantly alongside Day in the two characters’ bickering relationship, whilst Philip Carey and Allyn Ann McLerie add to the entertainment value, and their likability gives the film’s romantic story a more pleasant quality.
Another huge positive about the movie is its first act and a half. Kicking off with a bang with some great songs and Doris Day jumping all over the screen, there’s a lot of fun to be had early on. What’s more is that the story gets even more farcical as Calamity Jane journeys to Chicago and returns with a phoney actress, and makes for some great laughs along the way.
The film keeps up this hugely entertaining story for almost all of the first hour, however it soon starts to dissipate a little. The transition from a more Western-focused musical to a more generic romantic musical led me to lose a little bit of interest, worsened by the fact that the zany and energetic humour of the first act really disappears late on. Whilst some of the songs are still nice, they’re all a lot slower, and it really feels like you’re watching a completely different film to the earlier parts, which was disappointing to see for me.
Back on the plus side, however, the film is very nice to look at. The delightful Technicolor visuals match perfectly with both the energetic comedy and the romance, working brilliantly throughout to make for a hugely pleasant watch. Also, the costume and production design is second-to-none, and although the story may focus on something that’s almost entirely fictional, the sets look great, and the costumes add to that Wild West feel fantastically.
Overall, I think there’s a lot of fun to be had with Calamity Jane. Starting off brilliantly with energy and glee, the film may lose a little bit of its entertainment value later on, however the wonderful visuals and hugely enjoyable performances keep it an entertaining watch throughout, which is why I’m giving it a 7.3.