Doris Day, the beloved Hollywood icon, made her unforgettable film debut in 1948 with Romance on the High Seas. With a career spanning several decades, Day has left a permanent mark on the world of cinema.
Her diverse filmography ranges from romantic comedies to dramatic crime thrillers, making it a challenging task to narrow down her top ten best movies to watch. As we take a trip down memory lane, let’s explore the incredible cinematic journey of Doris Day, from her early minor roles to her iconic performances.
1. Move Over, Darling (1963)
Directed by Michael Gordon, the film is set against the backdrop of the swinging ’60s. Move Over, Darling is a delightful romantic comedy for people who just want to watch a lighthearted comedy film starring Doris Day and her wonderful co-star James Garner.
Day portrays Ellen the wife of James Garner’s character, Nicholas Arden, who is presumed dead after a tragic plane crash. However, when she miraculously survived five years later, her husband’s life takes an unexpected turn.
2. The Thrill of It All (1963)
In another memorable collaboration with James Garner, The Thrill of It All is another romantic comedy film starring Doris Day. Day plays the role of Beverly Boyer, a beautiful housewife who is suddenly blasted into the world of advertising when she is offered to be the spokeswoman for a soap brand, The Happy Soap Company. Her newfound celebrity status strains her marriage with her husband, Dr. Gerald Boyer (James Garner), leading to a series of hilarious and heartwarming moments.
3. Storm Warning (1950)
If you want a darker and more serious film in Day’s filmography, this movie might be up your alley. This crime drama revolves around Marsha Mitchell, a model who witnesses a murder committed by her sister’s husband, Hank Rice, who is involved with the Ku Klux Klan. Day’s portrayal of the terrified sister, Lucy Rice, left a lasting impression on the audience despite having a minor role in the film.
4. Young Man With a Horn (1950)
The film follows a young musician Rick Martin, portrayed by Kirk Douglas, who ends up getting entangled with the beautiful singer Jo Jordan, portrayed by Day, and a rich heiress named Amy North, portrayed by Lauren Bacall.
Another supporting role in Day’s career, this musical drama showcases Day’s diversity both in music and her talent in acting. If you love music with a spice of romantic drama, we highly recommend this film to add to your watchlist.
5. Love Me or Leave Me (1955)
This biopic is based on the life of Ruth Etting in the roaring 1920s. Love Me Or Leave Me features Doris Day in one of the most compelling roles and movies in her career. She portrays Etting, a talented singer whose career soars after she marries a gangster Marty Snyder (James Cagney). As she rises to fame, Marty’s possessiveness only grows and threatens to shatter her life and career.
6. Teacher’s Pet (1958)
One of her best romantic comedy films, Teacher’s Pet revolves around Clark Gable’s character Jim Gannon, a newspaper editor, who disguises himself to attend a journalism class taught by Day’s character Erica Stone. She is a teacher who had previously criticized Jim’s work. The film explores the timeless theme of romance and mistaken identities. If you love this classic romance trope that’s big in the 50s and 60s, we highly recommend you check this movie out.
7. Lover Come Back (1961)
Day’s undeniable chemistry with Rock Hudson is on full display in Lover Come Back. The film centers on two rival advertising executives, Jerry and Carol, who despise each other but like many films in the 60s, they are inevitably drawn together. A whimsical plot with witty humor, this film is another one of Day’s enduring appeals in the genre, that we can’t get enough of.
8. Calamity Jane (1953)
Adding to the list of Day’s musical romance film, Calamity Jane. This film is loosely based on the life of legendary sharpshooter, Jane, played by no other than Doris Day. This lively musical takes viewers on a journey as Calamity Jane tries to bring a famous singer to Deadwood while facing heartbreak and discovering love along the way. The film brilliantly showcases Day’s vibrant talent in both acting and singing career.
9. Pillow Talk (1959)
Pillow Talk is, you guessed it, another classic romantic comedy that highlights the remarkable on-screen chemistry between Day and Rock Hudson. The story follows two neighbors who mutually dislike each other but unfortunately share a telephone line. With mistaken identity troupe and hilarious misunderstandings, Pillow Talk is a timeless classic that earned Doris Day an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
10. The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
At the top of our list of must-watch movies of Day’s amazing career is The Man Who Knew Too Much, a thrilling masterpiece directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
The movie’s story revolves around the couple’s perfect Morocco getaway transforms into a web of secrets and danger when their young son is kidnapped. This Hitchcock classic, combined with Day’s exceptional acting, cements The Man Who Knew Too Much as one of the finest films in her amazing career.