Romance on the High Seas (1948)

Genres - Musical  |   Sub-Genres - Musical Comedy, Romantic Comedy  |   Release Date - Jun 25, 1948 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 99 min.  |   Countries - USA  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Romance on the High Seas is notable primarily for the screen debut of future superstar Doris Day in a role originally offered to Judy Garland and Betty Hutton. Day's performance is assured and effortless, belying her lack of camera experience, and it's what holds the film together. The trademark Day sparkle and effervescence is there in full force, and she already displays a seasoned professional's way with comedy. Some of her timing is slightly off in one or to places, but not so much that it really matters; much more important is her total belief in the material, despite the fact that the story is the kind of artificial nonsense that Hollywood churned out at the drop of a hat. Day gets more support from the lovely Jule Styne score (even if the Sammy Cahn lyrics are not always as well crafted as Styne's music). She is in fabulous vocal form, delivering one of her signature songs ("It's Magic") with a voice that has been dipped in honey and making a great deal of "It's You or No One" and "Put 'Em in a Box" into the bargain. The rest of the cast is also solid, with old dependables like Oscar Levant and Eric Blore doing what they do best. Jack Carson is always something of a strange choice for a romantic lead -- especially when paired with someone with Day's sweetness and innocence -- but aside from an unfortunate bout with a Calypso turn, he comes off well here. Michael Curtiz's direction is unexceptional but it gets the job done, and Busby Berkeley gets to bring out a few of his special tricks for the finale. Romance is definitely a lesser musical, but as a showcase for Day, it's quite effective.