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Film / Calamity Jane

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"Excitement? Why, I got more arrows in the back of that coach than a porcupine has got stickers!"
Calamity Jane

A 1953 musical film about the famous Wild West frontierswoman and gunslinger, Calamity Jane starred Doris Day in the title role and Howard Keel as Wild Bill Hickok. One of the film's songs, "Secret Love", became an Academy Award-winning hit for Day.

Calamity Jane comes to the town of Deadwood, South Dakota one day. She decides to revitalize the local saloon by bringing them Chicago star Adelaide Adams. Unfortunately, she instead brings them Adelaide's maid, Katie Brown, whom she found trying on her costumes. Katie becomes a hit with everyone, including Jane's secret love, Lt. Daniel Gilmartin. A rivalry for his affections with Katie ensues.

This film features examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: Calamity finds Katie mistaking her for a man to be hilarious, until the implications sink in.
  • And I'm the Queen of Sheba: The small-town theatre hall owner in Deadwood sarcastically says this when Calamity asks why he doesn't send for Adelaide Adams.
    Calamity: Why don't you send for her?
    Henry: Sure. Why don't I send for the Queen of Sheba?
    Bill: Yeah.
    Calamity: ...No good. They want Adelaide!
  • Battle Couple: Considering how Calamity Jane and Bill Hickok are skilled gunslingers and like trouble, you'd think they'd turn out to be this couple in an instant, but it's implied to be averted after they get together as both of them want to settle down and raise children. They've been close friends for quite some time, so it's not outlandish to assume that they played this straight at some point.
    Bill's friend: I don't know what kinda life you're gonna have living with that catamount, Bill, but it ain't gonna be dull!
    Bill: That's fer dang sure.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Jane and Bill have this.
  • Beta Couple: Katie and Danny.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: When Katie does a big talk on how she has to go no matter what and heads to pack, a baffled Jane turns to the camera.
    Calamity: I got me the strange feeling someone's getting hustled!
  • Digital Destruction: The colour balance keeps on shifting subtly on the UK DVD, sometimes from second to second.
  • Does Not Like Men: Jane has a song about this in the Screen-to-Stage Adaptation.
  • Dragged into Drag: Francis Fryer appears on stage as "Frances", but not willingly.
    Wild Bill Hickock: She ain't very good lookin'.
    Calamity Jane: That ain't all she ain't.
  • Historical Beauty Update: The Real Life Calamity Jane didn't look like Doris Day at all. In fact, photos of the time show she looked more like Howard Keel. No, really; Martha Jane Cannary looked more like a man than a woman.
  • Lady Looks Like a Dude:
    • Due to her masculine appearance, Katie initially mistakes Jane for a man.
    • In the stage version, we get this after the Deadwood Stage comes in:
      Calamity: Came darn near pluggin' that feller in the store when he called me “buddy ". Wanted to know what my wife's name was, 'n if I'd any kids!
  • Last-Second Word Swap: From "I Can Do Without You": You can go to... Philadelphia. Calamity's hesitation implies she wanted a word that rhymes with the third syllable of "Philadelphia".
  • Left for Dead: Danny is mistakenly assumed to be dead by his comrades and left behind at the mercy of the Indians that attacked them. Calamity Jane calls the survivors out on their mistake and then she goes to save Danny.
  • Location Song: "The Windy City" and "The Black Hills of Dakota".
  • Love Epiphany: Both Jane and Bill experience this when they commiserate over losing the people they're in love with (Danny and Katie, respectively) and they realize that they loved each other all along.
  • Love Triangle: Jane and Katie over Danny.
  • Mirror Scare: Katie first meets Calamity this way, as she is startled by Calamity's reflection in her mirror.
  • No Man of Woman Born: When Bill is forced to dress like a female Indian at the saloon, everyone laughs out loud. Angered, Bill pulls out a gun and warns he'll "put a bullet in the next man who laughs." Instant silence... except for Calamity, who keeps laughing hysterically.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: After chastising the Indian attack survivors for leaving Danny behind, Calamity wastes no time willingly risking her own life and rescuing Danny from the Indians.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: During a pretty sad scene in the woods, Jane cries about how crazy in love she was with Danny. Bill then softly reveals the he felt the same about Katie. It soon leads to their Love Epiphany.
    Jane: (crying) I was so plumb crazy about him.
    Bill: Yeah I know. I felt the same way about her.
    Jane: You mean, you're in love with Katie?
    Bill: It's funny, ain't it?
  • Oblivious to Love: Calamity fails to notice that Bill is in love with her, and that Danny isn't.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Bill gives one to Calamity Jane in a Tough Love way, in order to knock some sense into her.
    Bill: I've seen you do lots of crazy things, Calam, but this is the first time I've ever seen you make a blasted fool of yourself. (stops her from leaving) Now you sit down and listen! You're a fake, Calam. You dress, talk, write and shoot like a man, but you think like a female! Like a green-eyed, snarling, spitting female. Katie beat you. She beat you twice, out of your man and out of the respect you used to have around here. And you helped her! I did, too. She didn't shoot the glass out of your hand, I did.
    Jane: Why, you...! (starts to lunge at him)
    Bill: (stops her again) You needed a lesson! Who are you to tell people who to love? Suppose you did scare that girl out of town, would that get your lieutenant back? Would that stop Katie from loving him, or him her? That's female thinking. He'd bring her back, and they would both hate you. You had to lose tonight, Calam, or you'd never win again.
  • Romantic Ride Sharing: After rescuing Danny, Calamity Jane indulges in this as she rides back to Deadwood with Danny. The clueless Danny asks Calamity Jane why couldn't she just take one of the Indian's ponies to ride solo with him. She claims it is much cozier this way, while taking the opportunity to wrap her arms around him and smile.
  • The Savage Indian: Jane brags about the many she has fought and killed.
  • Screen-to-Stage Adaptation: One was made in 1961, and has been revived several times. It features six new songs, by the original writers.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely: Everyone reacts this way to seeing Jane in a dress.
    • At the dance, Bill takes Calamity's coat to show off her gown as he goes to hang it up. He takes a few steps before stopping then slowly turning around as Howard Keel provides one of the most epic open-jawed, wide-eyed looks of utter astonishment in film history.
  • Tough Love: After he brings her into the woods after her confrontation with Katie, Bill reveals himself to be the one who shot the glass out of her hand and allowed Katie to take credit because he wanted to teach her a lesson that scaring Katie out of town won't bring Danny back. He then comforts a heartbroken Jane by revealing that he too had unrequited feelings for Katie, which led to their Love Epiphany.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: When Katie is practicing for a showgirl performance, she screams when she looks in the mirror and sees Calamity is at her door. Calamity readys her gun and looks over her shoulders, asking where are the varmints. Unaware that Katie actually was startled because of her.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Jane and Katie.
  • Weddings for Everyone: Katie and Danny, along with Jane and Bill.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Calamity Jane chides the Indian attack survivors for leaving Danny behind believing him to be dead and she goes to rescue him herself.