No treadmill, just cleaning today, and another old movie to keep me company. This time, I was fascinated by a scene or three from Doris Day’s film debut, 1948’s Romance on the High Seas.
The plot is, of course, just as complicated and silly as a romantic comedy plot from this time period should be. Husband thinks Wife is cheating. Wife thinks same of Husband. Husband has to bow out of a South American cruise with Wife, so he hires a private detective to follow her around on the cruise. Wife suspects husband is up to no good, so she hires a nightclub singer (Doris Day) to impersonate her and go on the trip instead, while Wife stays in a hotel near home to keep an eye on Husband. Doris Day sings a lot and is just too damn cute (which is her specialty). Doris Day and detective become An Item. Doris Day’s smitten piano player complicated things further by following her on the trip, and threatens to blow her cover as Wife. There are hijinks and misunderstandings galore until the zany happy ending, at which point it all gets sorted out for the best. There are splendid character actors crawling out of the woodwork, goofy situations a-gogo, and some pretty fabulous gowns on display. There is a doctor who gets violently sick at the smell of marinated herring (a gag that makes more sense when you know the stereotype about broke musicians eating lots of herring).
The most fascinating bit of the film to me, though, was a musical number early in the show (one in which, oddly enough, Doris Day doesn’t sing): “The Tourist Trade”. As far as I can tell (without doing extensive research), it’s a Havana-based adaptation of a song originally about Hawaii. I couldn’t find the number on YouTube, but I did find the Morgan Sisters doing the Hawaiian version, and it’s rather enlightening.