In the 1960 movie version of the novel, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, Doris Day is a rather frustrated housewife whose once family-guy husband is quickly becoming an aloof, career man when his drama-critic job suddenly blossoms. While the now famous James Mckay (David Niven) is being seduced by actresses, celebrated at fancy cocktail parties, and heralded at posh, New York clubs, his wife Kay (Doris Day) charges ahead with their former dream of moving to the country to give their four boys a better life than stuck-in-an-apartment, city-life.
Of course, because it’s a Doris Day movie, though she has four children, a huge fluffy dog, is fixing up a run-down country house with her mother-in-law, trying to win her husband back, volunteering to sing/dance in a country show to raise money for the school…she always looks perfect. Ridiculous? yes. Unrealistic? of course. But do we love it? YES. Seeing reality reflected in films, tv, and magazines is a new phenomenon that I don’t really understand. I see reality 22 hours of the day, everyday, for the two hours I might set aside for a movie, I want somethin’ fantastically unrealistic. No one looks up to reality or strives for reality. Reality just happens. Doris Day? There’s something wonderfully unreal about her and that’s something to dress up for.
Bonjour Tristesse (“Hello Sadness”) is a fairly obscure novel written by Françoise Sagan in 1954 and adapted into a 1958 film version starring Deborah Kerr and David Niven. The rather depressing story follows a young girl abroad with her playboy father who bases his life on Oscar Wilde’s famous line: “Sin is the only note of vivid colour that persists in the modern world.” Of course, the consequences of his life-motto are vivid indeed…and, not in a good way. As foreshadowed by the title, the novel and the film end in tragedy and David Niven, the playboy father, learns that his view of life may bring instant gratification, but it also forces him into saying over and over, “bonjour tristesse.”
Despite all the sadness, a silver lining in the film version of the novel is Deborah Kerr’s adorable spring/summer style. She dresses comfortably without ever looking sloppy, and casual without ever looking lazy. I think her secret is pairing casual items with a tailored piece: putting shorts with a button-down, an easy, tailored shift-dress with a scarf instead of t-shirts and cut-offs. Even spending days at the beach, her hair is always pinned into submission and she never looks like she had an “I give up day.” Instead, though the film is rather dark, to Deborah Kerr you could definitely always say, “bonjour beauté!”
Bonjour tristesse images via lemonwade.com | filmposterarchive