Ali Harper shines as Doris Day
In her heyday, singer and actress Doris Day was an American film and recording icon. After seeing this performance, you could say she still is.
Known as an animal rights campaigner, Day is still alive, aged 94, and you get she was an icon by the way subsequent artists, among them The Beatles, Elton John, Billy Joel, Wham!, Richard Rodgers and Stephen Sondheim, and the writers of Grease referenced her in their songs.
Close friends with fellow stars Rock Hudson, Jimmy Stewart, Ronald Reagan and Cary Grant, Day is best remembered these days for the song Que Sera Sera from the Hitchcock movie The Man
Who Knew Too Much, her starring role in 1953’s Calamity Jane with its hit song, Secret Love, and her first big hit Sentimental Journey.
Of course her contribution during a long professional career that began in 1938 until her last release in 2011, amounts to so much more.
Singer Ali Harper spent three years working on this musical documentary tribute, which takes the unusual approach of making the audience guests at the recording of a 1971 ‘‘special’’. During this, Harper as Day takes us into her confidence, talks to the off-stage production personnel and keeps her pet dogs in check, all while performing some of the performer’s best known songs.
And Harper has a phenomenal effortless singing voice, and though she could introduce a little vocal variation into her character’s speaking voice, the illusion she creates is a masterful one.
Sure, the star’s persona keeps us at a distance. There are no extrapolated insights into her psyche – what we get is pretty much what’s on the public record.
There are nice production touches – the backing by a band screened in in black and white on the large central screen for instance, while the sound is slick and flawless. Everything is almost too perfect.
Ali Harper as Doris Day.