Tea for Two
Cast & Crew
Billy De Wolfe
When teenagers Lynne and Richard dress up in their parents' clothes from the 1920's for the amusement of some friends, their uncle, J. Maxwell Bloomhaus, chides them for making fun of their parents. He tells them what it was like for people in 1929 after the stock market crashed: In 1929, Max is the guardian of his niece Nanette Carter's fortune. Because of his bad investments, Nanette's fortune is lost in the crash. The stagestruck Nanette, who is unaware of her loss, is being pestered by theatrical producer Larry Blair to back a show written by Jimmy Smith and Tommy Trainor.
To help convince her, Larry brings Jimmy and Tommy to Nanette's house, where he pretends that Jimmy needs the money from the show to pay for his sister's operation. Tommy and Jimmy play her some songs from the show, and despite the misgivings of her secretary, Pauline Hastings, Nanette agrees to back the show. Jimmy then suggests that Nanette play the lead, replacing Larry's girl friend, Beatrice Darcy. That night, Nanette asks Max to sell some of her securities. Not wanting to tell her that he sold her securities long ago, Max agrees to give her the money on condition that she say "no" to everything for forty-eight hours. When Nanette's negative responses to some of Larry's questions drive the other backers away, Nanette invites the entire cast to rehearse at her house over the weekend. Trying to force Nanette to break her promise, Max compels her to deny that she likes the play and the songs. He then learns from his lawyer, William Early, that he might be able to save some of the lost fortune if he can sign certain papers before ten o'clock, but after Nanette is stopped for reckless driving, her negative answers to the policeman's questions lands them both in jail.
Later, Max encourages Jimmy to propose to Nanette, but even though she loves Jimmy, Nanette does not say "yes." Having lost his bet, Max is forced to tell Nanette the truth. Larry returns the show to Tommy, who suggests they raise the money themselves. Pauline uses her feminine wiles to convince Early to back the production, now called No, No, Nanette , and it is a success. Pauline and Early get married, as do Nanette and Jimmy. Max finishes his story just before Nanette and Jimmy return home to their children.
Billy De Wolfe
S. Z. Sakall
Mary Eleanor Donahue
Robert "buddy" Shaw
G. W. Berntsen
Wilfrid M. Cline
James P. Johnston
Roger Wolfe Kahn
Tea for Two
Tea for Two was not without its anxieties for Day, as it was the first film in which she would receive top billing. It was also the first film in which she would dance. As a child, her dream had been to be a dancer. She and a friend won several dance competitions and used their prize money to take a trip to Hollywood where she hoped to meet her idol, Ginger Rogers. She didn't run into Rogers on that trip, but Day's mother decided to move her thirteen-year-old daughter to Hollywood from Cincinnati, believing that her daughter might get into the movies. During their farewell party on Friday, October 13th, 1937, Day left the house with some friends and was involved in a serious car accident that left her right leg shattered. It ended her dream of a dancing career. While she recovered, she spent much of her time listening to the radio and began singing along. "With all that enforced time on my hands, I began to get interested in singing for its own sake. Not with any thought of following it up, but just for my own amusement." Eventually, of course, Doris Day traded dancing for singing and by 1950 was one of the top vocalists in the country. She went to Hollywood in the 1940s and had been signed to a long-term contract at Warner Bros, where she had co-starred in several musicals. But she had never danced in a film and was very nervous about it.
Tea for Two had her working with choreographer Gene Nelson "who was super. His wife, Miriam, was an excellent dancer who helped him with the choreography and who was absolutely marvelous to me. When we first met, during the filming of Tea for Two, I confessed to Miriam my fears and doubts about being able to dance well enough to satisfy the sharp eye of the camera. Of course I knew my leg was all right, but since I don't like to do anything that I can't do very well, I had my doubts that my best would be good enough. Miriam took my hand and said, "Clara, I'm going to work with you, we'll have all the time we need, and I will see to it, I promise you that I won't let anything go by that isn't first-rate. I'll watch you like a hawk. That's going to be my job, just to watch you. Gene will do the overall choreography, but I will be your personal choreographer. Please don't worry. Trust me."
"Miriam was true to her word, but oh, God, was it difficult! I never worked harder at anything than I did at the dances in my films. Hours and hours and hours...It is not easy to recommence anything that you have laid off of for many years and the stretch between my automobile accident and Tea for Two had me stiff and rusty. Miriam worked with me for endless hours, striving for the fluidity and verve that are the hallmark of the professional dancer. And Gene invented and adapted routines for me that were beautifully suited to my abilities. I would drag myself home at night, too tired to move another step, but I kept practicing in my head, watching myself perform, and that did me almost as much good as getting up on my feet and doing it. I rehearsed songs that way too. Not just the lyrics, but the actual rendition of the song, the phrasing, breathing, all of it, without singing a note."
The hard work paid off. When Tea for Two was released in September 1950, Variety called the film "the type of beguiling musical nonsense that practically always finds a ready reception." Day's dancing with Gene Nelson was deemed "expert". The Independent Film Journal wrote "The big news also is that Doris Day dances for the first time on the screen and shows even greater potentialities as one of the top film entertainers." Photoplay added, "Doris Day dances for the first time on the screen, and brings down the house with her I Know That You Know number with Gene Nelson." Bosley Crowther of the New York Times noted the chemistry between MacRae and Day, saying "the two complement each other like peanut butter and jelly" and that "Miss Day can shuffle a graceful pair of legs."
Producer: Williams Jacobs
Director: David Butler
Screenplay: Harry Clork, William Jacobs, Otto A. Harbach (play), Frank Mandel (play), Emil Nyitray (play)
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Film Editing: Irene Morra
Art Direction: Douglas Bacon
Music: Vincent Youmans
Cast: Doris Day (Nanette Carter), Gordon MacRae (Jimmy Smith), Gene Nelson (Tammy Trainor), Eve Arden (Pauline Hastings), Billy De Wolfe (Larry Blair), S.Z. Sakall (J. Maxwell Bloomhaus).
by Lorraine LoBianco
Doris Day: Her Own Story by A.E. Hotchner
Variety August 1, 1950
The New York Times September 2, 1950
The Internet Movie Database
Tea for Two
Tea for Two marked the film debuts of Patrice Wymore and Virginia Gibson. This was the first of four Warner Bros. films that starred Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. The others were On Moonlight Bay (1951), Starlift (1951) and By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953).