95: Tamar Jeffers McDonald


Manage episode 283552192 series 2312064
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It was a huge pleasure for this week’s Nostalgia Interview to meet up via Zoom with Tamar Jeffers McDonald, an expert on Doris Day.
Tamar is Reader in Film and Head of the School of Arts at the University of Kent. We learn that she dropped a copy of her book Doris Day Confidential: Hollywood, Sex, and Stardom to Carmel, California, for Doris Day to read and Tamar talks about how a few years ago she bought a broach that Day wore to the 1960 Golden Globes.
Tamar discusses how she always imagined that she would have been an academic but in a different discipline and we discover that she used to work for the Victorian Society. We find out that Tamar’s and Doris Day’s families came from the same places in America and we learn how Tamar built up her academic credentials.
We talk in detail about Pillow Talk and the question of Doris Day’s character’s alleged virginity, and we move the discussion to the theme of gaslighting. We also discuss the parallel careers – and Manichean opposites – of Day and Marlon Brando, who were born on the same day. Tamar, we learn, is interested in one day doing a project that looks at the two icons and where they might overlap.
We find out about Storm Warning in which Doris Day is married to a member of the KKK, and this leads to a discussion of Day’s own political views. She was a Republican supporter and we talk about how ideological differences can make the person more interesting to study.
Tamar has studied movie magazines and she talks about how and why they need to lie, and how they turned on Day towards the end of her career.
We find out whether there are any stars today who give Tamar the same joy and we learn that she enjoys early sound films. We find out what she thinks about audience responses to films she knows and loves and she reveals why she walked out of Life is Beautiful at the cinema. She also recalls her experience of feeling very uncomfortable watching Absolute Beginners surrounded by fascists.
Towards the end of the interview we find out that going to the cinema might have correlations with going to church, and Tamar reveals that she has a log of every film she has seen since 1998. She reflects on what she imagined as a child she might have done with her life and we learn how she is a better academic for having done a first degree in a different subject area.
Please note: Opinions expressed are solely those of Chris Deacy and Tamar Jeffers McDonald and do not necessarily represent the views or opinions of the University of Kent.