Contemplating writing this piece, I was trying to find my hook, my way into the world of this movie. Would I expound on my natural first reaction, the slight disgust at the contrived plot device of the woman who has to conform to get her man, or that she even needs a man in the first place? It's a common reaction from me, (I liked Sandy just fine before she donned those tight black pants and took up smoking.) But no, an over the top, PC thug reaction would just label me a stick in the mud.
Would I write about the lesbian undertones of (apparently) the only two women in Deadwood shacking up? While a fun proposition, it's not really worth much more digital ink than to point out that it does exist, (of course having said that someone else will probably make a brilliant piece out of it.)
No, I think I'll write about how the movie grew on me. I have to admit at first blush Doris Day's shtick is off putting. All furrowed brow and tomboyish pouting, she manages to chew scenery in a musical, and that takes a lot of work. Nope, this one was a bit of a hard sit at first for yours truly, but there was an a-ha moment about 16 minutes in. When desperate stage actor Francis poses as hotsy totsy songstress Frances to fool the crowd at the Golden Garter. Wild Bill's first reaction to seeing Francis in drag "She ain't very good lookin'" is charming enough, but when met with Calamity's rejoinder "That ain't all she ain't!" it sets the stage for a musical number that is goofy and more than a little disturbing. Those Deadwood men must have some screwed up standards. I mean, really, which one would you choose?
The men of Deadwood know what they want!
This scene sets the surprisingly odd tone for the rest of the film, which contains; identity theft, xenophobia, (implied) unwed intercourse, multiple counts of cross dressing. All that is before you get to hear Doris Day threaten to shoot someone in the face! So turns out it really is my kind of movie after all, although it could have used more dancing.
I did want to mention Howard Keel, who although I think he falls a little flat in this show, was wonderful a year later in Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.