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April 4, 2022

Lovely Vintage Portraits of Doris Day as Calamity Jane, 1953

Doris Day’s Calamity Jane is a story of love between men and women and women and women during a time when this love was innocent and people did not worry that someone might look at it in a sexual way. Women could hold hands and hug to support each other in happiness as well as grief.

Calamity Jane is a 1953 American Technicolor Western musical film directed by David Butler and starring Doris Day and Howard Keel. The film is loosely based on the life of Wild West heroine Calamity Jane and explores an alleged romance between her and Wild Bill Hickok.

Calamity Jane won an Oscar for Academy Award for Best Original Song for “Secret Love,” and was also Oscar-nominated for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture and Best Sound, Recording. Songs like “Secret Love” and “Take Me Back to the Black Hills” are beautiful even to the audiences today.

The film has been popular with some lesbian audiences for its depiction of a character which can be read as lesbian, and was screened at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in 2006. Film critic Jamie Stuart points to the film’s lesbian overtones in Jane being played as a strong, independent woman who shares a house with a woman, the two of them painting “Calam and Katie” in a heart on its door. Armond White sees the film as approaching sexuality in a way that Hollywood was not openly able to do, describing the empathy and envy between Jane and Katie’s characters as “a landmark display of girl-on-girl attraction.” Out magazine described the film’s award-winning song, “Secret Love,” as “the first gay anthem.”


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