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The Vintage Guide To London | January 22, 2018

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Win tickets to the Doris Day season at BFI Southbank

Win tickets to the Doris Day season at BFI Southbank
Lena Weber

Update: this competition is now closed!

Often under-appreciated, Doris Day is in fact one of Hollywood’s most consummate performers, as adept in drama as in the light comedies that made her name. The BFI now celebrates her legacy with a special Doris Day season, and we’re giving away a pair of tickets to watch a film of your choice.
For seven consecutive years from 1959, Doris Day was one of the top four box-office attractions and for four of those years she shone at the number-one spot. Forty-four years after she quit films in 1968, she is still the top female box-office draw of all time. Yet no other major star’s often first-rate work has been so misunderstood and egregiously underrated.

Over 20 years she made 39 films but you’ll search in vain for early footage of Day, born in Cincinnati in 1924, honing her skills. Acting hadn’t been part of the plan – she was ‘discovered’ while working as a band singer – but in 1948 she debuted on screen in the lead role of eager, gum-chewing Gloria Garrett in It’s Magic.

The true depth of her dramatic skill only became clear when she left Warners in 1955, playing opposite bullying James Cagney in Love Me or Leave Me. Her ability to delineate and transmit emotion then peaked as Hitchcock’s far-from-bland blonde in The Man Who Knew Too Much.

But it’s the late romantic comedies, particularly those with Rock Hudson starting with Pillow Talk that, for good and ill, cemented her reputation. They catapulted her to her greatest success but the times were against her. Sixties permissiveness was a playground for male, not female, sexuality. Day’s defiant independence was written off as frigidity and her notably sincere conviction didn’t match the era’s abiding cynicism. Revisiting her still critically neglected work reveals Day as an unsung heroine, a woman who held out for what she believed in.

You can now win a pair of tickets to watch a film of Doris Day season (subject to availability), simply email quoting ‘Doris’ in the subject line. The winner will be drawn at random at midday on Tuesday 4 December 2012. There is no cash alternative.

Full film schedule.
Find out how to win an amazing Doris Day goody bag.