Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2020) on… Magnificent Doll (1946)

Next up, we have a bit of historical fiction with the 1946 movie Magnificent Doll starring Ginger Rogers, David Niven and Burgess Meredith!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Olive Oyl For President (1948)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 3 from Warner Archive Collection)

Disclaimer: On the disc case, it is noted that the set is intended for the adult collector, which is because these shorts were made at a time when a lot of racist and sexist stereotypes were prevalent. All I’m trying to say is, parents, be careful about just sticking these on for your kids.

(Length: 6 minutes)

Popeye dreams of what it would be like if Olive ran for U.S. President (and won). While a lot of the political ideas may be slightly outdated (and a few ridiculous), it’s a fun little short. I know I enjoyed the quick reference to some of Paramount’s stars from the time, including Bing Crosby and Bob Hope! A remake of the 1932 short Betty Boop For President. Certainly a welcome relief from all the “Popeye Vs. Bluto” shorts of the previous two years!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Upon returning to his home from the Revolutionary War, John Payne (Robert Barrat) announces to his family that he plans to free his slaves, become a Quaker and move to Philadelphia as well as announcing the betrothal of his daughter, Dorothea “Dolly” Payne (Ginger Rogers) to John Todd (Horace McNally), the son of a friend who died saving his life. Dolly is not thrilled, but she goes along with the marriage, even though she doesn’t love him. John loves her, but it is only during a plague of scarlet fever that takes her father, her son, and ultimately John himself, that Dolly realizes only too late that she loves him, too. Dolly and her mother (Peggy Wood) decide to open their home to boarders, and in comes Senator Aaron Burr (David Niven), who takes an immediate liking to Dolly and offers to bring in a few more boarders. One other boarder who comes in after seeing Dolly out riding with Aaron is congressman James Madison (Burgess Meredith). At first, Dolly takes a liking to Aaron, while James admires her from afar, but as Aaron’s politics and desire for power become more pronounced, Dolly realizes she loves James and they are married. When Thomas Jefferson (Grandon Rhodes) runs for president, they support him, both during his failed attempt and his more successful run. However, Dolly has to help contend with Aaron’s attempts at becoming president, since he plans to rule the country like a tyrant.

Magnificent Doll paired Ginger Rogers with two of her former co-stars: David Niven (from Bachelor Mother) and Burgess Meredith (from Tom, Dick And Harry). My own opinion is that both of those previous movies are better than this one. Ginger Rogers is maybe a little too old for the role (or, at least, the movie’s beginning section, anyways), and it just feels weird seeing David Niven without his mustache. Still, it is an interesting film (even if it does take some liberties with history). I like the performances overall, from David Niven’s Aaron Burr as a man who wants to rule, with Dolly as a “queen” in name only (staying out of politics), while Burgess Meredith’s James Madison believes in democracy, and wants Dolly’s help. And I definitely appreciate Ginger’s performance, especially for her speech at the end of the movie. The story may be far from the best I’ve seen for any of these, and the movie is a bit slow at times, but I do enjoy it well enough to make it one worth recommending as something to take a chance on!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Olive Films.

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 6/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

I’ll Be Seeing You (1944)Ginger RogersPerfect Strangers (1950)

Bachelor Mother (1939) – David Niven – Murder By Death (1976)

Tom, Dick And Harry (1941) – Burgess Meredith

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