Doris Day's White Dress in The Pajama Game (1957)

Marylin Monroe made famous a white, halterneck summer dress designed by William Travilla in The Seven Year Itch (1955).

It's elegantly sultry. As exciting as that dress is, there is another white warm-weather dress which deserves a bit of attention - the one Doris Day wears in The Pajama Game (1957).

With a square neck instead of a plunging v-neck like Monroe's, Day's dress screams innocence and wholesomeness. Perfect for a character who is a bit naive.

It's sleeveless with a fit and flare silhouette. It closely lines the torso then falls away from the hips with multiple layers of underskirts.

The Eckarts ---Source

Jean Eckart and William Eckart - stage and screen designers- are credited with costume design for this musical. The married couple was so popular that the critic for Cue magazine suggested, "a growing number of theatre buffs ... go to musicals primarily to see the Eckarts' sets."

They leave you with an eyeful in the cinema as well. With Babe they've decided to keep things simple. This is perfect for the character and the setting.

Everyone at the pajama factory is going to the annual picnic. Babe, a member of the employee grievance committee, is in love with the superintendent (John Raitt). They make their relationship official in this scene. They are jubilant just in time to help sing the rousing number "Once a Year Day," a picnic song where everyone's entitled to be wild, mix things up a bit.


Appropriately, Babe -who usually wears standard issue pencil skirts or the occasional hot pants- goes fun and flirty for the picnic. She pairs the dress with a white belt and matching turquoise neckerchief and heels.

Babe works in a textile factory. One can imagine she makes her own dress from leftover material there, using, say, this vintage Advance brand pattern #6914.

Or maybe its from this 1950s Simplicity pattern #4350.
1950's Misses Blouse Simplicity 4350 Size 12 Bust 30

This was during a time when sewing your own wardrobe at home was a matter of course. No big deal. And for many of you out there, it's still no big deal. For me, it's fascinating.

You'll see her wear the same silhouette again in a different scene. This time it's in black and they are in the dark. Perfect attire for a home sewer on a budget to use the same pattern again.

Simple. Elegant. Sometimes a costume's subtlety catches your eye.

On Location: Tyrone Power's Tunica Wedding

Traveling down Highway 61 from Memphis, Tennessee to Tunica, Mississippi, one gets a sense of Tyrone Power's journey to the small town 56 years ago. The movie star flew in to the nearest international airport and headed south to marry a divorcee from Tunica - Mrs. Deborah Minardos- on May 7, 1958.

The foothills of Tennessee give way to a valley with long, country roads which stretch as far as the eye can see along fields fertilized by the longest river on the continent. Southern breezes and tree-lined sidewalks cool the heat and welcome you with the scent of dogwood and magnolia.

Java's journey to this hamlet came as a matter of completion. For the Power-Mad Blogathon in May, which celebrated the 100th year since Power's birth,  Java found many little articles online about the actor's last wedding, but none from the town where it all took place.

The minister and everyone else were sworn to secrecy since the world would mob this sacred ceremony if they knew when and where. (Fans and the press certainly disturbed Power's much-announced funeral 6 months later.)  But surely the family ran a little squib about it in the newspaper after the fact. Java was on a mission; she had seen how the Associated Press handled the marriage announcement - just a few sentences. But she wanted to know how the tiny town reacted to this occasion.

"You'll have to go to the Chancery's office on School Street," said a helpful voice on the other end of the phone, "The older archives for the local newspaper are not yet online."

The paper couldn't come to Java, so naturally, she had to go to it. She finally found the time two months later which is not ideal since Power's birthday tribute had come and gone, but... oh well.


While in Tunica on a search for the newspaper, she thought it would be fun to find the church where the wedding took place - First Presbyterian. It's downtown next to old railroad tracks that were since  converted into a park. She wondered if a train interrupted the wedding.

After a few missed turns, Java finally arrived at the Chancery. An office clerk guided the author to an open vault door and invited the blogger to sit at a table inside and wait as she looked through the archives. It was like a scene from Citizen Kane, only the archivist was pleasant.

"Which one, again, Ma'am?"

Java's mouth watered with anticipation; she felt as if she were ordering a magnum at The Stork Club.

"Tunica Times, please. 1958."

The clerk retreated and emerged again carrying to the small table a large red book filled with old newspapers.

"Just call me if you want anything. I'll be at the desk."

For the next hour, the author greedily devoured information from the yellowed pages of a forgotten world.

An ad for a local drug store reminded readers to buy a gift for their favorite high school graduates - hosiery for girls and razors for boys.  An announcement that Mrs. So-and-So and Mrs. Such-and-Such had tea last Tuesday. An out-of-towner visited his mother for Mother's Day. This was news.

Somehow Java expected the Tyrone Power marriage to be on the front page. It wasn't. There on page 5 of the May 15th issue, among the personals, across from the classified ads, was the notice.

"Mrs. Rice Hungerford III announces the marriage of her
daughter, Mrs. Deborah Jean Smith Minardos of Los Angeles,
Calif., and Tunica, to Tyrone Power, well-known stage and
screen personality, on Wednesday, May 7, at 10:30 o'clock in
the morning in the memorial chapel of First Presbyterian Church."

There is no big to-do about it. Not even a photograph. But the announcement continues with details about clothing and decor that we do not see in the national news. ("The bride wore a Christian Dior suit of black raw silk and black accessories.")

There is also mention of the mysterious Cheryl, who may or may not be the child of the divorcee who was raised by the grandmother. ("During the ceremony, Miss Cheryl Hungerford held the prayer book.")

In this understated announcement there is more about the locals who attended the affair than about Tyrone Power. There isn't the Hollywood hoopla, the absence of which is understandably attractive to a film star whose friend, Bob Buck, has this to say about the actor in his book North Star Over My Shoulder: A Flying Life:

"[Tyrone Power] was one of the men, regular, no airs.... The whole fame thing was a chore and a responsibility he had to respond to when required, like going to work; with that out of the way, in private and especially in flight, he was just a man like the rest of us, comfortable to be with, enthusiastically responsive to new scenes and experiences, quick with humor, earthy when appropriate."

Java smiled. She had found a rich, savory morsel of history. Now to take it home.

"Hmm. You won't get all of that article because it's on the left margin and in the trenches," said the clerk, " But I'll try my best."

A trench is where two bound pages meet, making whatever words are in the crevice difficult to read. The trench reminded Java of a railroad track. She chuckled to herself about the track, the line that now interrupts her research resembling a train that might have halted the nuptials so long ago.

It didn't stop her for long.
The clerk retreated again and reappeared with a delicious copy of that precious page. The words were partially cut off, but Java didn't care. The author copied the missing words in long hand on the back of a random page to type the moment she returned to a computer.

Thanking the clerk for her time, Java left the table filled to the brim with excitement.

The Tunica Times squib is a light, refreshing notice that could have been about anyone's nuptials. It's a wedding announcement that is satisfying for being very much like Tyrone Power - it doesn't have "airs."

And now Java presents it here in its entirety. The detailed little notice about Tyrone Power's last wedding from the local paper is on the far left. It is also typed below.

Click to Enlarge

Tunica Times-Democrat May 15, 1958 Page 5

Mrs. Minardos, Tyrone Power Wed In
Presbyterian Chapel Wednesday
Only Members of Bride's Family, Close Friends
Attend Ceremony; Leave In Day For West
Mrs. Rice Hungerford III announces the marriage of her
daughter, Mrs. Deborah Jean Smith Minardos of Los Angeles,
Calif., and Tunica, to Tyrone Power, well-known stage and
screen personality, on Wednesday, May 7, at 10:30 o'clock in
the morning in the memorial chapel of First Presbyterian Church.

The double ring ceremony was
read by Dr. T.T. Williams, church

Arrangements of white gladioli
and white tapers formed the set-
ting for the vows. The wedding
music was played by Mrs. Elchue
Denton, Jr.

The bride wore a Christian
Dior suit of black raw silk and
black accessories. She carried a
white prayer book, caught with a
bouquet of white orchids.

Mrs. Hungerford III, who gave
her daughter in marriage, wore a
white eyelet embroidered linen
sheath gown, with white accessor-
ies and white orchid corsage.
Mr. Hungerford III was best

During the ceremony, Miss
Cheryl Hungerford held the
prayer book. Her frock of pastel
blue silk was appliqued with pink
tulips. Her flowers were camellias.
Attending the ceremony were
Mr. and Mrs. S. R. Hungerford
Jr., Mr. and Mrs. John Henry,
Mr. and Mrs. R. W. Owen and Mrs.
T.T. Williams.

Following the ceremony, Mr.
and Mrs. Hungerford III were
hosts at a reception at their home.
The reception table was laid with
cutwork linen cloth and an ar-
rangement of white and blue flow-
ers formed the centerpiece. Blue
candles were in silver candelabras.
Yellow gladioli were used in the
den of the home.

Guests at the reception were
those who attended the wedding
and Mr. and Mrs. Clint Nickles
and Herbert Goldman.

Later in the day, the bride and
groom went by plane to Dallas,
Texas, before flying on to Los
Angeles. After a cruise aboard Mr.
Power's yatch [sic], Black Swan, they
will go to Europe where he will
make two movies during the next

Dinner Party Given
Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Owen
were hosts at a dinner party Tues-
day evening, May 6, compliment-
ing Mrs. Minardos and Mr. Power,
who was observing his birthday.
Dinner guests were the hon-
erees, Mr. and Mrs. C. P. Owen,
Jr. and Mrs. S.W. Owen, Mr. and
Mrs. Jack Tucker, Mr. and Mrs.,
Jack Wilkes, and Mr. and Mrs.
Hungerford III.

NPR's Classic Movie Segments

In 2011, National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" aired a few segments about classic movies called "On Location." This short-lived series discusses a film location and how it affects the story.

Each one lasts about 8 minutes. Transcriptions are available. Click a link to visit the individual page at NPR. Enjoy.
On Location: San Francisco in Vertigo 

 Claude Jarman, Jr., at age 11, holding a fawn on the set of The Yearling in 1946.
On Location: The Central Florida Of The Yearling

James Dean on the set of the 1956 film Giant, which was filmed on the Ryan Ranch, west of the town of Marfa. The skeleton of the mansion in the background still stands on the ranch today. 
On Location: Marfa, Texas in Giant

Katharine Hepburn (left) and Rossano Brazzi in Venice in David Lean's 1955 film Summertime.
On Location: A Summertime Romance In Venice

Charlton Heston (left) as Miguel Vargas and Orson Welles as Hank Quinlan in Touch of Evil 
On Location: 'Touch Of Evil"s Border Showdown

Three for the Show (1955)- A Musical w/ Betty Grable/Jack Lemmon/Marge and Gower Champion

Known as Betty Grable's last musical, Three for the Show (1955) is a light romantic comedy with striking dances. It's meant to be frothy fun and it delivers.

This film is a remake of Too Many Husbands - a standard Enoch Arden-type story that was often remade during the 20th century- where a person thought dead returns to find the spouse remarried. Cary Grant played in his own version. A few others -Fred MacMurray, Doris Day, even Marilyn Monroe- would take a stab at it.

This time it's Jack Lemmon who is presumed missing in action and returns to find his wife, a stage star (Betty Grable), married to his former writing partner (Gower Champion).

The bulk of the story finds Grable vacillating between husbands. Who will she choose?

Waiting in the wings for Grable's leftovers is Marge Champion who gives a beautifully poignant performance of "Someone to Watch Over Me," then later reprises it in dance with (Who else?) Gower. It's the best number in the movie. It's not the first time the Champions demonstrate a burgeoning, torrid love affair through dance. Their "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" dance from Lovely to Look At is also a breathtaking narrative.

This movie could have done nicely without the numbers and just presented itself as a straight RomCom. But then we wouldn't have seen some very colorful widescreen productions.

Lemmon and Champion each believe he's the chosen one and rush home to prepare for a romantic evening with Grable without knowing the other one is in the house. They strategically open and close doors to create a near silent French farce number.

Grable day dreams about her situation, then suddenly she's in a harem with dozens of husbands; a song is thrown in (the beginning of which references "Stranger in Paradise" from the popular Broadway musical Kismet which opened in 1953 and would premiere on film in December of 1955).

There are two other numbers worth noting in this Columbia Pictures film because they seem to be parodies of numbers from its rival Twentieth Century Fox - Grable's long-time studio. They particularly poke fun at one of Fox's stars - Marilyn Monroe.

Monroe is not in this movie, but she must have been on everyone's mind the year in which Three for the Show was made. This movie unmistakably sends up Monroe big time at least twice in huge production numbers.


Marge Champion day dreams and suddenly she's in a long, balletic duel with another woman. She dreams of a French tragedy while wearing pink and wielding a revolver amid candelabras on a giant staircase.


This is a take on Monroe's memorable "Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend" number from Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953) which mention the French, duels, has a giant staircase, candelabras everywhere and, of course, the iconic pink dress.

In a tropical number with lots of chorus boys and bare midriffs, Grable drops her own singing style to perform in a breathy, vampy, stop-and-go phrasing as a parody of Monroe's  "Heat Wave" in There's No Business Like Show Business (1954). The chorus girls are even wearing Monroe's over-sized hat and one-strap bikini top.


People have inferred there was a rift between Grable and Monroe. Who knows if there was? According to Mitzi Gaynor (another Fox star), Fox replaced its blonde bombshells every decade. There was Alice Faye, then Betty Grable, then Marilyn Monroe.

I doubt that there was a problem between the latter two. Grable had more than once threatened to retire from show business and had even taken a hiatus in the early 1950s. This decade saw her film career wane (though she would return to the stage to great acclaim).  Monroe didn't take out Grable; Grable finished Grable.

Monroe's exaggerated sensual appeal became fair game for satire from everyone. As when referencing Kismet, Grable's ribbing of Monroe is simply latching on to the latest in pop culture.

At two hours, the light plot for Three for the Show is a little long, but it's a fine enough diversion for a rainy afternoon.

2014 TCM Cruise

The 2014 TCM Cruise is shaping up nicely. They have just sent out a guest list which includes Shirley Jones, Tab Hunter, Ann Blyth and Diane Baker. Here's a gander:

Driving Miss Daisy:The Play w/ Angela Lansbury and James Earl Jones

Have you seen Driving Miss Daisy (2014) the play? It's Alfred Uhry's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a mid-20th century, Atlanta matron Daisy Werthan and her chauffeur, Hoke. This filmed play stars Angela Lansbury (Gaslight, The Manchurian Candidate) and James Earl Jones (The Great White Hope, Star Wars) and is available in theaters this month.

This is a three-person play which also stars four-time Tony Award-winner Boyd Gaines as Daisy's son Boolie.


It's produced by Broadway Near You, which seeks to "dramatically expand the market [of stage performances] by producing high-definition “stagecasts” of A-list theatrical productions for distribution first in cinemas, and subsequently in all media, worldwide. "

This has been a dream of mine since childhood. Long ago, when viewing the CBC's tapes of the Stratford Festival, including Romeo and Juliet with Megan Follows, I wondered why all plays are not on film and disseminated like movies.

Later, as I dove into film reviews, I was powerless to form my own opinions about the stage version of a movie if I hadn't been present to see it. This was frustrating.  I'm glad to see that someone has taken action with this idea.


As to the film itself - it's charming. Someone on the internet calls it Mrs. Potts meets Darth Vader, referring to Lansbury's role as a tea pot in Disney's Beauty and the Beast and Jones' role in Star Wars. But it's not just the familiar names and faces which sell this; those considerations just get you into the cinema. You stay for the performances.
Lansbury has said that as long as she can put one foot in front of another, she will act. Her enthusiasm for her chosen profession shines through. Sometimes a little too much, since the story tracks a woman slowing down and aging into her 90s with dementia. Still, her energy is delightful to see.

Jones brings humor and dignity to the role of the chauffeur who lives through a certain time and place without equal rights - a main theme of the tale. According to the published play, the story takes place between 1948 and 1973. The Civil Rights movement would begin during this span of time. Though this is the frame of the play, the individual human connections remain front and center.

Gaines'  role as Daisy's son and Hoke's employer brings a camaraderie with the chauffeur that I don't ever remember seeing before. Although this story is about Daisy and Hoke, this version is the first one where Boolie isn't a third wheel. Before, the son has always seemed to be a mere plot device to get Daisy out of her house or to bring in new subjects to discuss - he hires the car and the chauffeur for her travels, she goes to her son's house for the holidays, there's a running joke about her disliking Boolie's wife, Florine, etc. But here, Boolie is not just a mechanism for pushing the plot, there is an underlying friendship between Hoke and his employer that is a welcomed addition.


According to Uhry, and from what I've read in the play and seen live onstage, Driving Miss Daisy is meant to be a simple play - a bare bones story hanging on the dialogue. It is equally effective plain or with little embellishments here or there. "The scenery is meant to be simple and evocative," says the author. This production has kept that simplicity.

A wooden bench represents the back seat of the car where Daisy sits. A chair in front of the bench is the seat for Hoke who handles a steering wheel on a pole with casters. This represents the car.
In one scene, a second chair doubles as a passenger seat or as a chair in Boolie's office. The bench does double duty as a seat in Boolie's waiting room.

There's a chair and a small side table that represents Daisy's house, but frankly I don't remember much about it because Lansbury is rarely seated there. She leaps up a lot. Funnily enough, as Daisy ages and the play goes on, Lansbury seems more active. I love her version of this character.

Though they have followed the directive for simplicity, there is well-placed, relative extravagance in the form of image projections.

During key transition scenes, projected, real-life images from the era flit about briefly on the wall.
When Hoke sits in the car waiting for Daisy who is attending a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, you'll see news reel images of the actual person, lending these fictional characters the depth of reality.

Driving Miss Daisy is a must-see filmed play. It's well-produced with charming actors, realistic scenes and perfectly sparing scenery that remains true to the source material.

Have you seen this film? What did you think of it?

It's a Small World After All

Esther Williams and Cliff Robertson on the set of The Big Show

The first film I screened on a phone was The Big Show (1961) with Esther Williams and Cliff Robertson. The palm-sized screen was much too tiny for comfortable everyday viewing of a film, but the phone would stream movies faster than my sluggish internet service on the laptop.

All of this brings me to a certain moment.

At some point in that film -perhaps the point at which Cliff and Esther start talking marriage and I feel as though I’m intruding on a real conversation- I think, "This is frightfully intimate." Not only are talented people performing at my command, they are in my hand, they are in my pocket; I can take them with me in a way that I'd not done before.

This everyday technology is amazing, but also disturbing for some reason that I can’t articulate.

Robert Wagner mentions in his first autobiography, Pieces of My Heart, that in his childhood, movie stars seemed to be untouchable beings on a 30-foot silver screen that you never thought you’d meet. When television became prominent, TV stars on a smaller screen in your home felt like your neighbors.

What, then, does a tiny screen in your palm do to your experience? Do the people on the screen feel like your toys? That thought makes me uneasy. Still, I’m  interested in what newer media formats will continue to keep classic movies accessible.

What's the first movie you screened on a phone or other mobile device? Did you enjoy the experience?

Further Resources

Is Eliza Really Professor Higgins' Fair Lady?

One more My Fair Lady observation. We've recently discussed Lerner and Lowe's My Fair Lady  and its Bernard Shaw predecessor, Pygmalion -about a petulant linguist, Professor Henry Higgins and his pupil, Eliza Doolittle.

We have discussed how My Fair Lady's ending is more definite than it should be. We mentioned how Eliza has risen from the slums and now may choose any life she wants. We discussed how Shaw leaves the end ambiguous so that any life she chooses is immaterial; choice is her happy ending.

Unfortunately, even in Shaw's day, people want hero and heroine to end up married or otherwise romantically involved, even when that makes no sense to the storyline. My Fair Lady hints at such a conclusion.

Well, here's another nail in the coffin for the supposed romance between Eliza and the professor.

Professor Higgins can never love any human being because his ultimate devotion is to only one fair lady - language, specifically "proper" English.

Yes, this bachelor is married to linguistics. He cannot abide what he thinks of as abuse of his lady. This is why when Eliza says "them slippers" instead of  "those slippers" his quiet tone becomes immediately harsh and loud. He's not simply a teacher correcting his pupil; he's defending his one true love - the English language- from Eliza's indifferent tongue.

Much of Higgins' notorious rudeness can be traced back to defending his fair lady against all onslaughts or protecting their exclusive relationship with each other. 

When he tries to sell the idea of his version of English to Eliza, he says, " your native language is the language of Shakespeare and Milton and The Bible. Don't sit there crooning like a bilious pigeon." Referencing these well-known and revered sources of information, he reminds Eliza of his mistress' pedigree. His lady love should be respected, and he cannot fathom anyone who won't regard her as he does. 

When Eliza speaks in her Listen Grove lingo, full of screeching sounds and loud noises, Higgins declares in hyperbolic fervor that someone, "who utters such depressing and disgusting sounds has no right to be anywhere—no right to live. " You'd think someone had slapped his wife.

Later on, after Eliza has learned to speak like a duchess,  she has also found along the way more strength of character. When Eliza declares, "I won't be passed over," Higgins quickly retorts, "Then get out of my way; for I won't stop for you." He mistakes Eliza's request for basic respect as a request for a kind of intimacy that he's not willing to give to any human. His heart belongs to another.

But Eliza has had plenty of men wanting her "that way," as she calls romance. She understands that at the end of the experiment, Higgins' offer to return to his house as one of the bachelors is not some elaborate ruse of a Lothario, but as... well, let's have her say it:

ELIZA: I want a little kindness. I know I'm a common ignorant girl, and you're a book-learned gentleman; but I'm not dirt under your feet. What I done [correcting herself] what I did was not for the dresses and the taxis: I did it because we were pleasant together and I come—came—to care for you; not to want you to make love to me, and not forgetting the difference between us, but more friendly like.
In her stilted conversation, Eliza makes everything about their relationship clear. Shaw allows some of her slum dialect to slip in again at this point to let the audience know that Eliza is sincere.

Higgins agrees that this is how he feels as well - a platonic relationship is in order. 

They must hash this out in plain language because others might expect that these two should become romantically involved, but both of them plainly declare that they do not expect this from each other.

Higgins feels trapped by society's expectations of what a guy is meant to be when a woman his age or younger comes into his life.  To let a woman in your life, Higgins thinks, is to play a set role that he's not interested in. A man is meant to be a love-sick school boy (like Freddie is to Eliza who writes her letters every day) or a somewhat protective father figure (like his linguistic colleague Colonel Pickering is to Eliza, or Eliza's biological father Alfred Doolittle). 

Higgins wants to be neither. To any person. He's only in love with his vowels and protective against slang. Why can't he have a platonic relationship with women as he has with Pickering?

When he explains to his mother that he hasn't married because
My idea of a loveable woman is something as like you as possible.  

This is not -as some have suggested- an Oedipal connection that stunts his romantic progress; it's a liberating perspective that he wishes he could simply have a friendship with a person that he finds interesting, male or female. 

By the end, in Eliza he has found someone like his mother -grounded, wise, opinionated, expecting no less than basic regard and respect. Also, as it is with his mother, Higgins has no intention of becoming her lover.  Eliza is simply a part of Higgins' life, an exceptional part of it. He's grown accustomed to her face, and he will miss her company if she chooses to leave.
Ultimately, Higgins is a somewhat asexual being who, if anything, is in a love affair with the never-ending mysteries of his native tongue. Before Eliza ever shows up to Higgins' house for tutoring, before there is some question in the audience's mind about whether the pupil and teacher are a romantic match, Higgins' most ardent affections already have a permanent target; his lady love is language and no one will ever take her place.

Further Resources
  • It is the Robert Powell version of Higgins for the BBC in 1981 that brings about today's blog post. Powell brings something rarely seen with this character - tenderness...with the words. He gracefully, eagerly and gently careens around the curves and turns of his lines like a Formula 1 driver at the Monaco Grand Prix. His is fast becoming my favorite version of Higgins.

The Milkman in the Movies

World Milk Day is June 1st. What better excuse to discuss the milkman in the movies? There are many obsolete (or now rare) professions showcased in the movies; the person carrying bottles of cow juice comes to mind.

Before easily accessible refrigeration, getting fresh, drinkable milk from the cow to the kitchen was difficult in densely-packed cities or if you didn't have your own livestock. Enter the milkman.

There he stands in a white shirt and white pants resembling the product he delivers door-to-door everyday. The neighborhood milkman is often portrayed as docile as the cows his company milks, which, unfortunately, makes him ripe for ridicule in the movies.

Take, for instance, Danny Kaye's movie The Kid from Brooklyn (1946). The milkman is a  milquetoast, a figure of weakness. Still, he finds a spine by the end of the film. You'll find a similar wacky take on the profession with Donald O'Connor's starring role in The Milkman (1950).

In The Clock (1945), however, we get a different bent. James Gleason's milkman is a symbol of normalcy during the war. He is the kind and inviting face of New York.

By the 1950s and 1960s, inexpensive refrigeration was taking over, which means you could keep your milk at home fresher longer. There was less need for daily deliveries from the farm. As the milkman's duties became more obsolete in real life, you'd see less of him in the movies.

There is one sort of last hurrah for the modern milkman in Send Me No Flowers (1964). Dave Willock's milkman has only a few minutes onscreen as a gossip who knows everyone's personal business. He deduces through the change in dairy order that the Bullards are getting a divorce and tells all the neighbors. He's an hilarious figure who is slightly nefarious, hiding in bushes and whatnot.

Perhaps the most well known milkman on film or stage is Tevye in The Fiddler on the Roof (1971). Played by Topol in the movie, his is a traditional delivery system with horse and cart instead of a refrigerated truck. This is pre-revolutionary Russia.

For the customers, Teyve's cart is the place that's neither home nor work, the 3rd place, the Starbucks of the town where you unwind. As such, this is a gathering place for the latest news or where a traveler might find refreshment.

Not only do the customers leave with a container of milk or a round of cheese, they also leave with a sense of companionship. Tevye is my favorite movie milkman.

Who's your favorite movie milkman?

Further Notes
You might find the history of the New England milkman an interesting read: From Dairy to Doorstep.

15 Mother's Day Classic Movies

Celebrate motherhood with these classic movies.

1. Always Goodbye (1938)

A mother (Barbara Stanwyck) gives up her child, then meets him years later. Should she tell him her secret? Johnnie Russell stars as her son Roddy and nearly steals the movie.

2. The Bad Seed (1956)

While her husband is away on duty, a woman (Nancy Kelly) discovers her innocent little girl might be a murderer. Most of the Broadway cast reprise their roles. It's an interesting discussion in heredity.

3. Driving Miss Daisy (1989)

Though this film focuses on Daisy Werthan's relationship with her chauffeur, it is also a film about a mother's relationship with her adult son as they both age. Jessica Tandy, Morgan Freeman and Dan Aykroyd star.

4. Freaky Friday (1976)

Mother and daughter switch bodies and learn to understand each other. Barbara Harris and Jodie Foster star in this Disney film.

5. I Remember Mama (1948)


A Norwegian family navigates their new life in the U.S. in 1910. Irene Dunne stars.

6. Imitation of Life  (1959)

Two mothers (Lana Turner and Juanita Moore) live together while raising their two daughters. The daughters grow distant. See also the 1934 version with Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers.

7. Little Women (1949)

Mary Astor keeps her four headstrong daughters together while father is off to fight in the Civil War. See also the 1919 and 1933 versions.

8. Mildred Pierce (1945)

Joan Crawford's Academy Award-winning performance of a mother's struggle to provide for her family and build a business while dealing with a spoiled teenaged daughter(Ann Blyth).

Betty Grable heads the cast of this musical about parenting in the early days of vaudeville.

10. Mrs. Miniver (1942)

Greer Garson plays a British mother who protects her family during World War II.

11. Please Don't Eat the Daisies (1960)

Doris Day is the mother of four rowdy little boys. She must also deal with a husband (David Niven) whose career in the city blossoms just as they move to a house in the country.

12. The Reckless Moment (1949)

A woman (Joan Bennett) covers up her daughter's seamy dealings with a criminal while her husband is away.  She is then blackmailed, all while making Christmas plans for the family.

13. The Restless Years (1958)

Theresa Wright is a woman raising a daughter alone. She struggles with a mysterious past trauma which leads to a suspicious nature. This keeps her daughter (Sandra Dee) from socializing, which causes problems.

14. The Sound of Music (1965)

This is the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical of a woman (Julie Andrews) who leaves a convent to become the governess for a widower’s seven mischievous children. For other Nanny-Marries-Daddy type themes, see Au Pair, Jane Eyre and Corrina,Corrina.

15. Yours, Mine and Ours (1968)

Lucille Ball plays a widow who marries a widower (Henry Fonda) and blends their families together for a total of eighteen children.


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