Thoughts From The Music(al) Man (2022) on… Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)

It’s been a while since I’ve watched (and reviewed) any of Doris Day’s films, so I’m back today for her 1951 musical Lullaby Of Broadway, also starring Gene Nelson!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Anniversary Trouble (1935)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 5 (1935-1936) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 19 minutes, 22 seconds)

Spanky (George McFarland) has been elected the treasurer of the Gang’s club (“Ancient and Honery Order of Wood Chucks Club, Inc.”) and the Gang have decided to trust him with the money. However, it’s also his parents’ wedding anniversary, and the envelope containing the Gang’s money has gotten mixed up with his father’s gift to his mother. This one was absolutely hilarious from start to finish! Much of the humor is derived from Spanky being called to go see his father at the office (since his parents thought he stole their envelope) while the Gang waits for their money (since they disbanded the club and want their money back). One of Spanky’s methods in trying to get away is questionable for modern audiences, since he tried to don blackface to disguise himself as Buckwheat in an attempt to get away. Still, the short was an entertaining twenty minutes that I wouldn’t mind seeing again and again!

And Now For The Main Feature…

American entertainer Melinda Howard (Doris Day) has been in Europe for a number of years, but she’s earned enough that she decided to come home to New York City to surprise her mother, Jessica Howard (Gladys George), whom she believes to be the toast of Broadway. When she arrives at her mother’s mansion, Melinda meets the butler, Lefty Mack (Billy De Wolfe), who is also a friend of her mother’s. A surprised Lefty lies, telling her that her mother is on tour with a show, and is renting the place to brewer Adolph Hubbell (S. Z. Sakall) and his wife, Anna (Florence Bates). The truth is that Jessica has fallen on hard times as a result of her alcoholism, and the mansion is owned by the Hubbells. Lefty gives Melinda a place to stay in the servants’ quarters, and lets Mr. Hubbell know what’s going on. Since Mr. Hubbell is throwing a party that many Broadway performers have been invited to, Lefty hopes to get Jessica there to briefly see Melinda. At the party, Broadway producer George Ferndel (Hanley Stafford) tries to convince Mr. Hubbell to invest in his show. Mr. Hubbell refuses to do so because his wife is insisting that he not do so, and because Ferndel won’t let him do anything more than pay for the show. Meanwhile, one of Ferndel’s stars, Tom Farnham (Gene Nelson) (whom Melinda had unknowingly met on the boat to America) tries to spend time with Melinda (who was more open to him at the party than she had been on the ship). Melinda is disappointed when her mother doesn’t show at the party (because she had been hospitalized for drinking too much, although Melinda was told that she had to stay with her “show”), and vows to stay until she gets a chance to see her mother. With the food bills at the Hubbell household rising while Melinda stays, Lefty makes a suggestion that Mr. Hubbell should take her out to a restaurant, where she would be noticed by Ferndel (and also prove that Mr. Hubbell was not too old-fashioned to be involved in show business). As a result, she now has a part in the new show, with the opportunity to spend more time with Tom. Trouble arises when Mr. Hubbell spends too much time with Melinda and everybody else misconstrues their relationship. Things come to a head right before the show opens, when Mrs. Hubbell finds out about Melinda spending so much time with Mr. Hubbell, and she decides to divorce her husband. With everything falling apart, will Melinda be able to see her mother and perform in the show, or will she pack up and go back to Europe?

While actress Doris Day had originally planned to come to Hollywood as a dancer, a car crash ended that dream (resulting in her focusing on her singing instead). However, as she started to become a big star at Warner Brothers, she worked with dancer Gene Nelson and his wife Miriam to get back into dancing shape for her first starring role in Tea For Two (1950). With that film proving to be successful, she was paired up again with Gene Nelson for Lullaby Of Broadway. Gene’s promotion to leading man was mostly the result of him winning the 1950 Golden Globe for Best New Star (in Tea For Two) (that, and his Tea For Two co-star Gordon MacRae was proving to be an uncooperative contract player at Warners). Once again, Doris worked with Gene and his wife on the routines for Lullaby, including dancing on the staircase for the title number, which made her nervous. Onscreen, that nervousness didn’t show, and the film proved to be yet another hit for Doris Day and Warner Brothers.

I’ve had the opportunity to watch Lullaby Of Broadway a couple times this year (hadn’t seen it prior to the recent Blu-ray release), and it’s one that I will gladly admit to enjoying! Most of the fun is seeing a lot of the cast of the previous year’s Tea For Two together again (minus Gordon MacRae, as I mentioned before). The film is full of memorable tunes (culled from the catalog of music owned by Warner Brothers at the time), including the title tune, “You’re Getting To Be A Habit With Me,” “Just One Of Those Things,” “I Love The Way You Say Goodnight,” and several others. Doris Day is in fine voice for all of her songs, and she proves once again that she can dance, whether alone or with Gene Nelson! Honestly, the only complaint I have on her dancing is the slow motion section that ends “I Love The Way You Say Goodnight” (I think Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers are great enough as a team to pull it off slow motion dancing in Carefree, but Doris isn’t as good technically, so it shows off her faults a bit more). As for her co-star Gene Nelson, I like him, but I’m not sure he fares as well as a leading man for two reasons: 1) he is fairly obviously dubbed on his singing voice (by Hal Derwin) and 2) compared to his earlier roles in The Daughter Of Rosie O’Grady (1950) and Tea For Two (1950), his dancing here seems “tamer,” lacking some of the acrobatic stuff and lifts he did before (which, in this case, makes him more like your average dancer as opposed to being a standout like he was in those earlier two movies). Apart from those two complaints, I’m good with him. S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall is fun as always, and Billy De Wolfe is funny in what feels like a rare role (for him) as a decent guy, especially when he does the comic routine to the song “You’re Dependable” with Anne Triola as the maid (and his girlfriend) Gloria Davis. I’m not quite as fond of this film as the earlier Tea For Two, but it’s still an entertaining musical with some fun music and dancing! As I said, I’ve already had fun watching it a few times in the time that I’ve had it on disc, and I certainly would recommend it!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. I haven’t been able to find anything specific about what was used for the transfer on the Blu-ray, but it’s still a typical Warner Archive release of a 3-strip Technicolor film. In short, the color looks great, and the picture has been cleaned up of all dust and dirt. However, this is a rare instance where I do have a complaint about the transfer, and that’s with some of the audio. The main problem is that the tap sounds for some of the dances (particularly Gene Nelson’s dance number “Zing! Went The Strings Of My Heart”) don’t quite sound right, as if that part of the audio wasn’t done right (similar to what I’ve heard was the problem on the initial pressing of Kino Lorber Studio Classics’ 2022 Blu-ray release of Blue Skies before that was corrected with a subsequent pressing). Since I only first saw this film through the Blu-ray, I have no idea whether that was something new or whether it’s always been that way. If it is a new problem for the Blu-ray, I wouldn’t say that it’s anything major (and, as far as I know, there has been no movement towards Warner Archive fixing it, which doesn’t surprise me after all the issues that they’ve had behind the scenes throughout the pandemic), so I still think that this release is worth it.

Film Length: 1 hour, 32 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Tea For Two (1950)Doris DayOn Moonlight Bay (1951)

Tea For Two (1950) – Gene Nelson

Tea For Two (1950) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall

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What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… My Dream Is Yours (1949)

We’re back again with another 2021 Blu-ray debut, the 1949 film musical My Dream Is Yours, starring Jack Carson, Doris Day and Lee Bowman!

Note: As I had originally hinted last week, my plan was to have a review for the recent Blu-ray release of Ziegfeld Follies to post today (after having delayed that a week). I’m been struggling with writer’s block on that one, and between that and my opinion of My Dream Is Yours (originally planned as an entry in next month’s musical blogathon that I’m hosting), I decided to switch the publishing dates for these two (so hopefully my review of Ziegfeld Follies will actually be done finally for next month).

Coming Up Shorts! with… Shivering Shakespeare (1930)

(available on Blu-ray as part of The Little Rascals: The ClassicFlix Restorations, Volume 1 (1929-1930) from ClassicFlix)

(Length: 20 minutes, 26 seconds)

The kids all take part in a production of Quo Vadis for the Golden Age Dramatic League. This one was a lot of fun!! A lot of the humor was in the kids forgetting the dialogue for the play (and, all things considered, I can’t blame them)! Things go wrong, especially with some older kids throwing stuff at them throughout the performance. Of course, the slow-motion pie fight that ends this short makes for a wonderful and hilarious ending! This one is considered one of the classics in this early bunch (of the talkies), and I can’t disagree with that!

Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Want To Be An Actor (1949)

(available as an extra on the My Dream Is Yours Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 10 minutes, 56 seconds)

Joe McDoakes (George O’Hanlon) is an out-of-work actor, who keeps trying to make it big. This one is a decent short, with a few good gags here and there. Some of the humor is a bit forced, which is the biggest problem. There are some good moments, though. Frank Nelson as a theatrical agent is a hoot (although, to be fair, all he has to do is speak, and I’m in stitches)! Fred Clark also gets a brief part as a producer that Joe’s trying to read for, and essentially pays more attention to the card game he is playing than to Joe. Like I said, there are a few good moments, but this is an at best average Joe McDoakes short (at least, from those I’ve seen so far, anyway).

Coming Up Shorts! with… The Grass Is Always Greener (1950)

(available as an extra on the My Dream Is Yours Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 21 minutes, 24 seconds)

A group of ranch-hands are all grousing about their working conditions, and thinking strongly about quitting. Then a stranger named Windy (Chill Wills) arrives, and helps them realize just how good they have things there. I found this one quite entertaining, with a good moral to the story, as well. I’ll admit, it didn’t quite go the direction I expected it to (mainly, I thought, the way things worked when he came in, that Chill Wills’ Windy would turn out to be an angel or something), but that certainly didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this one. It’s a very heartwarming short, and a good reminder of just how nice things can be sometimes when you look at it the right way. One I definitely would like to revisit again and again!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Ham In A Role (1949)

(available as an extra on the My Dream Is Yours Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 48 seconds)

A dog wants to give up the slapstick comedy he’s been doing and be a Shakespearean actor. Of course, trying to rehearse at home, he finds himself dealing with the two Goofy Gophers! While not one that I’ve seen frequently, I will still admit to enjoying this cartoon! In general, I like the two gophers with their manners and their antics as they take on their various antagonists, and the Shakespearean dog makes things just as hilarious! Certainly worth seeing every now and then!

And Now For The Main Feature…

The House Of Beauty, owned by Felix Hofer (S. Z. Sakall), is sponsoring the radio program “Hour Of Enchantment,” featuring popular singer Gary Mitchell (Lee Bowman). It’s just about time for Gary to renew his contract with Hofer, but he decides to turn it down, much to the chagrin of his agent, Doug Blake (Jack Carson). Doug tries to change his mind, but Gary instead invites Doug to join him as his secretary (which Doug refuses). Doug’s boss at the agency, Thomas Hutchins (Adolphe Menjou), urges him to make any concessions in order to get Gary to sign, but Doug refuses, believing that he can go to New York and find somebody else. His boss doesn’t want somebody else, so Doug decides to quit his job and go into business for himself. Now without an expense account, Doug borrows money from his new partner (and Hutchins’ secretary) Vivian Martin (Eve Arden) so that he can go to New York. He tries listening to various singers throughout the city, but doesn’t find anybody he likes. Finally, he comes to a bar, where the bartender tries to push his niece, who works at a jukebox service. The bartender’s niece, Martha Gibson (Doris Day), sings herself (instead of playing a record like she is supposed to do), and is fired by her boss. However, Doug likes what he heard, and decides to bring her back to L.A. (although she has to leave her young son, Freddie, behind with her uncle). Doug has Martha audition for Hofer, who likes her, but not her jazzy style of music. Of course, while she auditions, she also meets Gary Mitchell, and the two take a liking to each other. Since her audition for Hofer didn’t go as well as hoped, Doug has her move in with Vivian to help keep costs down. He tries to get Martha in front of anybody else who could give her a chance, but everyone turns her down. When she sees how much Doug seems to owe everybody, she decides to get a job in a nightclub working for Fred Grimes (Sheldon Leonard), but that job doesn’t last long. When Doug sees how down she is, he sends for her son Freddie, the sight of whom cheers her up quite a bit. When Doug overhears her singing Freddie to sleep with a lullaby, he realizes that he’s been trying to promote her with the wrong singing style, and decides to try again. However, his efforts to get Hofer to hear her don’t go well. Her big chance comes, though, when Gary Mitchell is too drunk to go on the “Hour Of Enchantment” radio program, and Doug barely manages to convince Hofer to give her a chance. But will this chance work out? And how will Gary react?

When making her film debut in Romance On The High Seas, Doris Day impressed director Michael Curtiz with her natural ability as an actress. Before finishing that film, he made plans for what would be her second film, My Dream Is Yours (which would reunite her with her Romance co-stars Jack Carson and S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall). Curtiz decided on a story that was essentially a remake of the earlier 1934 Warner Brothers film Twenty Million Sweethearts, adding in some ideas taken from Doris Day’s own life and career up to that point in time. The film also added in a dream sequence combining live-action and animation, featuring Bugs Bunny (a sequence that the director had to fight to keep as is, considering the studio wanted it FULLY animated).

I will admit that I enjoyed this movie! I thought that Doris Day’s performance improved from Romance to this film (although I thought she was pretty good in that film, too). I thought Jack Carson was also pretty good and funny, although in the comedy department, Eve Arden certainly steals her scenes as the put upon partner who has to keep financing the whole deal. The rest of the cast does well for me, too (especially S. Z. Sakall, who is always fun to watch). I like the movie overall. The biggest disappointment for me here is the music (hence, why I decided against using this review as an entry in my musical blogathon next month). Most of the music I personally find to be quite forgettable, and I really don’t like the title tune, which is made worse considering it’s sung multiple times throughout the film (as I’ve indicated before, I don’t mind hearing a song I like a bunch of times in the same movie, but, when I don’t like it, it just feels like the song is being rammed down your throat, and makes it even harder to like). While the song itself isn’t necessarily great, I will admit to liking the song “Freddie, Get Ready” with Bugs’ appearance (as well as a quick cameo from Tweety Bird, too). Like I said, I like the cast, I like the comedy, and I like the story. The music’s not the best, but it’s not enough for me to keep from recommending this one. I’d certainly suggest seeing it if you get the chance!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The Blu-ray makes use of a new HD transfer taken from an interpositive (IP) that had been made at some point recently from the original three-strip camera negative. Even if it’s not from the original negative, this transfer still looks gorgeous, showing off the color pretty well! It looks like it should, especially with all the dust and dirt cleaned up. It’s certainly good enough for me to recommend without hesitation!

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 7/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Romance On The High Seas (1948) – Jack Carson – Phffft (1954)

Romance On The High Seas (1948)Doris DayYoung Man With A Horn (1950)

Roxie Hart (1942) – Adolphe Menjou

At The Circus (1939) – Eve Arden – Tea For Two (1950)

Romance On The High Seas (1948) – S. Z. “Cuddles” Sakall – In The Good Old Summertime (1949)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… The Pajama Game (1957)

Apparently, I’m going to just keep plugging along with Doris Day’s filmography this year, as we’ve got another one of her films! This time, it’s her 1957 musical The Pajama Game, also starring John Raitt. So let’s get through another short first, and then head on down to the stage to hear from our Host and Narrator!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Droopy’s Double Trouble (1951)

(Available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Tex Avery Screwball Classics Volume 2 from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

Droopy and his twin brother Drippy are tasked with taking care of a house (and keeping out strangers). Of course, Spike the dog (with an Irish accent, no less!) has to join in on the fun (as the “stranger” that they have to keep out). In general, the fun of this cartoon is in watching Spike deal with the constantly switching Droopy/Drippy and how they react to his presence. I’ve been watching this cartoon for a long time, and I can’t deny that it still holds the same charm (and humor!) after all this time. Still one worth revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

(Host): I figured it out!

(Narrator): You figured it out?

(Host): …

(Narrator): Well, did you?

(Host): … No.

(Narrator): Good. I was worried you were about to start in with a (poorly done) musical number for my return. (Aside to audience) And when I say “poorly done,” I mean him, not the movie. (Normal voice) The story for The Pajama Game comes from the novel 7 1/2 Cents by Richard Bissell, which was turned into the hit Broadway musical The Pajama Game…

(Host): Never mind that. Let’s get on with the story!

(Narrator): Fine. Have at it.

(Host): To start off with, the workers at the Sleeptite Pajama Factory are demanding a raise of 7 1/2 cents from their boss, Myron Hasler (Ralph Dunn), but he refuses to budge! He hires a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin, as played by Frank Sinatra –

(Narrator): WAIT A MINUTE!!! I’m sorry folks, but he’s working with the wrong information. The original plan for this movie was to keep the Broadway cast more or less intact, but it was required by the producers to have a big movie star as one of the leads. They had hoped to have Frank Sinatra as the male lead, with plans for Janis Paige to reprise her role from the Broadway show. Supposedly, Frank turned the role down (or was unavailable), and so they got Doris Day as the female lead, dropping Janis Paige and bringing in John Raitt. Whew. Now, let’s back to things with the RIGHT information.

(Host): Alright. He hires a new superintendent, Sid Sorokin AS PLAYED BY JOHN RAITT (glares at the Narrator).

(Narrator): Hurry Up!

(Host): (Singing) Can’t waste time, can’t waste time…”

(Narrator): (Covers up Host’s mouth and addresses the audience) Sorry, folks. That one’s on me. I should have known better with him. (Pulls hand off Host’s mouth) Going to behave now?

(Host): Sure. What choice do I have? Now, where was I? Oh, yes. While trying to help fix some machinery, Sid ends up shoving a lazy employee out of the way. Deciding to fake an injury, the employee runs off to tell the grievance committee from the union. The leader of that grievance committee turns out to be Catherine “Babe” Williams (Doris Day), whom Sid immediately takes a shine to. Babe’s co-workers also sense that Babe feels the same way, but she tells them that she’s (singing) “Not at all in love”

(Narrator): (Covers up Host’s mouth again) I thought we covered this.

(Host): (Mumbling through Narrator’s hand) OK. (Narrator pulls hand away). Well, Sid tries to ask her out, but she turns him down, worried about how she is a worker, and he is management. But, when the company picnic comes around, he’s persistent enough that they start going out anyway. Things go well for a time. However, Myron Hasler’s refusal to compromise with the union about the 7 1/2 cent raise results in the workers trying to slow things down. When Sid forces everyone back to work at normal speed, Babe decides to sabotage the machinery to slow things down. When she openly admits to it, Sid has no choice but to fire her. Later, he tries to make it up to her, but she refuses to see him. Sid tries to reason with Mr. Hasler, but he refuses to budge. So, Sid decides to try looking at the books. However, they are kept under lock and key, and Mr. Hasler’s secretary, Gladys Hotchkiss (Carol Haney), has the key. So, he opts to take her out (but openly admits beforehand that he wants the key). She suggests going to a place called (tango music starts) “Hernando’s Hideaway! Olé!” (Music stops as trapdoor opens up underneath the Host. He looks down, looks back up to address audience.) Darn it. I pressed my luck too far. (Falls down through trapdoor, which closes immediately after.)

(Narrator): Well, he’s gone, for a moment. Back to the story, Sid gets Gladys drunk, but then he sees Babe come in. While he tries to hide from Babe, Gladys decides to give him the key. Babe sees the two of them, and comes over to warn them that Gladys’ jealous boyfriend (and factory foreman) Vernon “Hinesie” Hines (Eddie Foy, Jr.) knows about them, and is out looking for them. Sid tries to explain, but she leaves immediately. After trying to make sure that Gladys has a ride home, Sid goes off to look at the books for the factory. Will he be able to find something that allows the union and Mr. Hasler to compromise, or will the workers go on strike?

(Narrator walks offstage as the Host walks back on)

(Host): I see he finished the story during the brief moment I was away. So, let’s down to what I think of this movie. I will readily admit, this was a movie that, for some reason, I had no initial interest in (and I’ve never seen it performed on stage, either). The biggest reason I saw this movie was the presence of leading lady Doris Day, combined with the fact that it is a musical. And, much to my surprise, it ended up being a movie that I enjoyed! The music by Richard Adler and Jerry Ross turned out to be quite fun and memorable (and I was taken aback to hear the song “Hey There,” which I’ve heard a version of on an oldies radio station that I’ve listened to for a number of years). I will admit to having a number of the songs stuck in my head, and, as much as I now like them, that’s not a bad problem to have! I do admit that I find actor John Raitt to be one of the weak points of the film, as his performance doesn’t quite work for me (it’s not completely terrible, but it’s still rather weak compared to the rest of the cast). Doris Day is, as always, in fine voice and does well with her character (even if she was a newbie to the show compared to most of the original Broadway cast brought in for the movie). I’m not quite as fond of the dancing, but you’re also talking to somebody who prefers the likes of Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly and some of the other earlier dancers (and the choreography that they were working with). Still, this one was a movie that I enjoyed, and I would certainly recommend it highly!

This movie is available on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Archive Collection. The new Blu-ray uses a 4K Scan of the original negative. It’s another one that was originally done in the problematic WarnerColor process (much like Mister Roberts), and the restoration crew made plans to use other elements in case the original negative wasn’t up to snuff. However, it turned out to be in better shape than they thought, and the new transfer looks wonderful! The detail is there, the color is there, and the restoration team has my greatest admiration for all the work they continue to do with Warner’s holdings (so yes, give the Blu-ray a try)!

(Narrator): (walks back onstage wearing a pair of Sleeptite pajamas and carrying, over several trips, a microphone, some sound equipment, a music player and a portable chair)

(Host): What’s all this?

(Narrator): I figured that you’re bound and determined to start singing and dancing, so I grabbed some equipment. Just don’t expect this to happen that often.

(Host): (Grinning broadly) you mean this is my (Narrator nods and starts up the music) “Once-a-year day!” (Sound fades away as invisible soundproof walls descend around the stage, while the Host continues singing and dancing without noticing)

(The Narrator sits down in chair and sets up a sign, with the words only visible to the audience. The sign says “What? You didn’t expect me to let you suffer as well, did you?”)

(The glass breaks from all the singing and dancing around)

(Narrator): Oh, well. As the old saying goes, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” (Gets up and starts singing and dancing with the Host)

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)Doris DayBilly Rose’s Jumbo (1962)

Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942) – Eddie Foy, Jr.

Original Vs. Remake: Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) Vs. On Moonlight Bay (1951)

Maybe it’s just me, but this month seems like a good month for finding movies that are similar to others that I’ve reviewed previously! So, with that in mind, we’re back for another round of “Original Vs. Remake!” This time, we’re focusing on the two classic musicals Meet Me In St. Louis (1944) and On Moonlight Bay (1951)! As tends to be my practice, I will borrow the plot descriptions from my original reviews.

Meet Me In St. Louis: The story of the movie centers on the Smith family. Youngest daughters “Tootie” (Margaret O’Brien) and Agnes (Joan Carroll) are generally up to some mischief, especially on Halloween. Older daughters Esther (Judy Garland) and Rose (Lucille Bremer) are both eagerly looking forward to the upcoming St. Louis World’s Fair, while also trying to gain the attention of the men they are attracted to. Their father, Alonzo “Lon” Smith (Leon Ames), is offered a promotion with his law office that would require the family to move to New York, which he takes them up on, with plans to leave after Christmas.

On Moonlight Bay: It’s 1917, and the Winfield family has just moved into a new home. Most of them are unhappy with the move, as they miss their old friends and neighbors as well as their old house. However, head of the family George Winfield (Leon Ames) likes the new home, with its location closer to the bank he works at, and hopes that his older daughter, Marjorie (Doris Day), will meet some young men. Marjorie is a bit of a tomboy, but she attempts to be more feminine when she meets and takes a liking to her nextdoor neighbor, William “Bill” Sherman (Gordon MacRae). College man Bill, who is home for the summer, develops an interest in Marjorie as well, but his views on life (partially affected by the war raging in Europe) cause strife with Marjorie’s father. As a result, George tries to promote a romance between Marjorie and music teacher Hubert Wakely (Jack Smith), much to Marjorie’s annoyance. Meanwhile, younger son Wesley (Billy Gray) has trouble at school with his teacher, Mary Stevens (Ellen Corby). His tall tales (partially influenced by a movie he saw) get him out of trouble temporarily, but cause problems for his family.

While neither of these movies share the same source material, one can’t help but notice a number of similarities between them. One of the most obvious is the casting of Leon Ames in both films as the father figure. Both movies also feature a very forthright maid, who gets dragged into some of the family’s shenanigans. The younger child(ren) tend to be very mischievous in both instances, as they frequently get themselves into trouble. Even going beyond the stories themselves, we find that they both make use of mostly period music, some of which is handled by one of the respective studios’ bigger female singing stars, who portrays an older sister. We even find that both films take place throughout the year, pausing around Christmastime (with the actresses stopping to sing a holiday tune).

But, it’s hard to deny that these movies certainly do things a bit differently, too. As the father in both films, Leon Ames’ characters do not do things quite the same way. In On Moonlight Bay (OMB), he really interferes in his daughter’s love life, by both rejecting the guy she likes and trying to push somebody else on her that he finds more “acceptable.” In Meet Me In St. Louis (MMIST), he really doesn’t interfere (he threatens to once, but never actually follows through on it). Of course, the number of children varies between the two films, with only two in OMB and five in MMIST. Also, the older daughters in MMIST are quite feminine in nature, whereas Doris Day’s Marjorie in OMB is more of a tomboy (at least, until she tries to be a bit more feminine for her boyfriend). The overall situation and timeframe allows for some differences, as MMIST takes place (mostly) in 1903, with the family mainly looking forward to the upcoming World’s Fair in St. Louis, while the prospect of the first World War looms over OMB (with Gordon MacRae’s Bill Sherman eventually joining the armed forces).

Ultimately, when you get right down to it, I would take Meet Me In St. Louis over On Moonlight Bay. Judy Garland is, to me, the far better actress and singer. The music itself in MMIST is far better and far more memorable (especially for the Christmas segments). Just the way it is filmed seems better, with the way director Vincente Minelli did things (especially with Judy on camera). Now, all that doesn’t necessarily mean that On Moonlight Bay doesn’t have its advantages, either. I do think I prefer Mary Wickes to Marjorie Main in the maid’s role (but I would say that has more to do with the idea that I prefer Marjorie Main when she is a bit more loud and outspoken, and she seems tame in comparison in MMIST). And we also get to spend more time with the characters from On Moonlight Bay, since that film did receive a sequel (By The Light Of The Silvery Moon) that was able to bring back most of the cast of the first film. Regardless, it’s a fun experience with either film, and I certainly would recommend both as good films to just sit back and relax while watching!

Meet Me In St. Louis

Film Length: 1 hour, 53 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

On Moonlight Bay

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

The Winner (in my opinion): Meet Me In St. Louis

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2021) with… On Moonlight Bay (1951)

We may be past the Doris Day “Star Of The Month” blogathon this year (back in January), but I’m not through with her yet for the year, as I’ve got another one of her films to look at! It’s her 1951 musical On Moonlight Bay, also starring Gordon MacRae! But first, we have a few theatrical shorts to start us off!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Let’s Sing A Song About The Moonlight (1948)

(available as an extra on the On Moonlight Bay Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 9 minutes, 24 seconds)

This short contains four different songs about the moon. They include “By The Light Of The Silvery Moon,” “On Moonlight Bay,” In The Evening By The Moonlight” and “Shine On Harvest Moon.” It’s another entry in the “Memories From Melody Lane” series of shorts from Warner Brothers. It gives quick histories of the songs, and it also includes the lyrics as a singalong. There’s some fun to be had here (especially if you enjoy the music).

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Hound For Trouble (1951)

(available as an extra on the On Moonlight Bay Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 9 seconds)

Kicked off a boat in Italy, Charlie Dog turns to an Italian pizzeria owner, hoping to be his dog. A bit of a fun cartoon, as Charlie tries different ways to get in good with the pizzeria owner (and fails). Granted, this cartoon isn’t exactly politically correct, with the fake Italian being spoken and the stereotypes of Italians, but it’s not too terrible. Of course, one of the best gags is the one that ends the cartoon! This one was quite enjoyable, and one worth revisiting!

And Now For The Main Feature…

It’s 1917, and the Winfield family has just moved into a new home. Most of them are unhappy with the move, as they miss their old friends and neighbors as well as their old house. However, head of the family George Winfield (Leon Ames) likes the new home, with its location closer to the bank he works at, and hopes that his older daughter, Marjorie (Doris Day), will meet some young men. Marjorie is a bit of a tomboy, but she attempts to be more feminine when she meets and takes a liking to her nextdoor neighbor, William “Bill” Sherman (Gordon MacRae). College man Bill, who is home for the summer, develops an interest in Marjorie as well, but his views on life (partially affected by the war raging in Europe) cause strife with Marjorie’s father. As a result, George tries to promote a romance between Marjorie and music teacher Hubert Wakely (Jack Smith), much to Marjorie’s annoyance. Meanwhile, younger son Wesley (Billy Gray) has trouble at school with his teacher, Mary Stevens (Ellen Corby). His tall tales (partially influenced by a movie he saw) get him out of trouble temporarily, but cause problems for his family.

It’s been said that, when planning for what become On Moonlight Bay, Jack Warner (the head of Warner Brothers Studios) looked through a copy of all the music that Warner Brothers owned and picked a song (by randomly stabbing it with a toothpick) for the title tune. He then had his writers, Jack Rose and Melville Shavelson, write a story around it. They ended up adapting (very loosely) some of the Penrod stories by Booth Tarkington (which had already been brought to the big screen a number of times before), with the focus shifted to the character’s older sister to put the spotlight on the studio’s popular actress and singer Doris Day. The film proved to be popular with audiences (enough so that a sequel, By The Light Of The Silvery Moon, was quickly put into production). For Doris Day, the film helped to cement her status as America’s Virgin Sweetheart (a status she wasn’t particularly thrilled by). Still, she considered the movie to be one of her favorites that she did.

I myself am coming off my second time seeing this movie. As I’ve said previously, I enjoy films from the early part of Doris Day’s career at Warner Brothers, and this one is no exception! The period music is certainly fun (not overtly memorable, but it’s still enjoyable, just the same), with Doris Day and Gordon MacRae doing well with the tunes. The story itself is nothing to write home about. Where the movie does shine, however, is in its comedy, especially with the family dynamics. As Wesley, Billy Gray manages to get into a number of humorous situations, including when the character, forgetting his school assignment to write a letter to somebody, decides to “borrow” his sister’s love letter to her boyfriend (without even bothering to read it first), only to be forced to read it in front of his class (much to his embarrassment). The fun continues as he decides to get revenge by trying to come between his sister and her other “boyfriend” (you know, the one her father approves of), only to realize that she is happy with his interference. And I can’t forget actress Mary Wickes, who plays their maid Stella, with the film’s running joke being her trying to carry dishes and stuff through doors, only for somebody else coming through causing her to drop everything. Plain and simple, this is a very entertaining movie, and one I would have no trouble recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection featuring a new transfer from a 4K scan of the original Technicolor negatives. In short, this movie looks terrific, cleaned up the right way and with the colors as vivid as they should be! As usual, Warner Archive has maintained their high quality standards with this release, making it the best way to see this wonderful movie!

Film Length: 1 hour, 35 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Lullaby Of Broadway (1951)Doris DayCalamity Jane (1953)

Tea For Two (1950) – Gordon MacRae

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

“Star Of The Month (January 2021)” Featuring Doris Day in… Billy Rose’s Jumbo (1962)

January is quickly coming to a close, and with it my feature on Doris Day as the Star Of The Month! But, I’ve got one last film of hers to get through for the month, and that’s the 1962 musical Billy Rose’s Jumbo, also starring Stephen Boyd, Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye! But first, we’ve got a few theatrical shorts to get through!

Coming Up Shorts! with… For Better Or Nurse (1945)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 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: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

Popeye and Bluto try to injure themselves to get into the hospital, where Olive works as a nurse. This one was also a lot of fun, with more variety than usual. Yes, Popeye and Bluto are still at it, but this time, they’re not trying as hard to fight each other. Instead, they’re trying to find ways to get themselves injured (and failing hilariously every time)! And a rare instance of somebody other than Popeye eating his spinach (with him forcing it down Bluto’s throat). The only real drawback is the rather obvious difference in Popeye’s voice, as he is voiced by Harry Welch here, who is not as good as Jack Mercer (or even Mae Questal from the previous short). Still, a lot of fun and worth seeing for a few good laughs!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Jerry And Jumbo (1953)

(available as an extra on the Billy Rose’s Jumbo Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 5 seconds)

A baby elephant rolls off a train, and ends up helping Jerry the mouse outwit the cat, Tom. It was fun seeing this Tom & Jerry cartoon again, with Jerry painting the baby elephant to look like a big mouse (and seeing Tom’s reaction is still priceless after all this time). Of course, throw in the elephant’s sucking power with his trunk (seriously, how powerful was that?), and Tom doesn’t stand a chance. A lot of fun, and a lot of laughs again with this one!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Yours Sincerely (1933)

(available as an extra on the Billy Rose’s Jumbo Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 19 minutes, 35 seconds)

The owner of a resort tries to get one of his daughters married off to a millionaire. This short was a part of the “Broadway Brevities” series, in which a Broadway show is presented in an abbreviated form (as opposed to a whole movie). This one was based on the show Spring Is Here, which had actually been given a full film treatment a few years before (but was apparently lacking most of the show’s score). It’s an interesting program, although, for me, the music isn’t that memorable, and, since that is most of the dialogue here, that makes the short itself harder to sit through. Probably better for those who are bigger fans of songwriters Rodgers and Hart than I am normally.

And Now For The Main Feature…

The Wonder Circus is beloved by audiences. However, the circus has many problems behind-the-scenes. Most of them are financial, caused by circus owner and ringmaster Pop Wonder’s (Jimmy Durante) penchant for taking all the money from the cash box and gambling it away in local crap games. As a result, he can’t pay the creditors, never mind most of his performers. So, a lot of his performers and crew tend not to stick around. Among those who do stay, however, are his daughter, Kitty (Doris Day), and his fiancee of fourteen years, Lulu (Martha Raye). They soon meet by Sam Rawlins (Stephen Boyd), who is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades. He joins the Wonder circus when he fills in for another performer that left to join the John Noble circus. They all grow to like him (Kitty, in particular), but what they don’t know is that he is the son of rival circus owner John Noble (Dean Jagger), who is using him to pay their bills behind their backs, so that he can take over their circus (and get possession of star attraction Jumbo the elephant, whom Pop Wonder refuses to sell). Sam develops feelings for Kitty as well, but tries to ignore those feelings. That changes one night when a storm wrecks the tent during a show, and he has to help save Kitty and a few other performers. Now that he’s admitted to his feelings for Kitty, can he help save the circus, or will John Noble get everything he wants?

In 1935, showman Billy Rose put on the Broadway show Jumbo. He made use of a lot of talent, both behind-the-scenes and onstage for this show. While it proved somewhat popular with audiences, the costs were too high for it to be a success. However, MGM bought the film rights in the early 1940s, with plans to make a big musical, which would also include Jimmy Durante (who had starred in the Broadway show). However, the plans fell through at that time. They were willing to revisit the idea in the early fifties, but nothing came of that, either. Finally, in the early sixties, Doris Day and her husband Martin Melcher decided to try making a musical at MGM, and picked Jumbo for the idea. They tried to assemble a lot of big talent both on- and off-camera. In spite of all their efforts (and Doris Day’s box office appeal at the time), the film flopped, said by some to be the result of it being an old-fashioned type of musical when musicals like West Side Story were changing things up.

Now, I’m obviously quite far removed from that changing landscape, and, as such, I actually like this film. I enjoy some of the music by Rodgers and Hart, including “Over And Over Again,” “Circus On Parade” and particularly “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” (which always gets stuck in my head every time I watch this movie). The scenery and color is a lot of fun to see, and I enjoy the performances of most of the cast. Jimmy Durante and Martha Raye are quite funny throughout the movie, both together and apart. Doris Day is in fine voice like always, and I enjoy watching her performance, too. Now, is the movie perfect? No. Actor Stephen Boyd is, quite frankly, the weak point in the cast, as he just seems completely out of place in this musical, both as a singer (he was dubbed), and as a dancer. Remove him, and a lot of things look better. Also, for the plot, the movie does seem to be a little too long, with the final song “Sawdust, Spangles And Dreams” really dragging things on too long. Still, I like this film, and enjoy seeing it every now and then. So, yes, I would recommend it, as I think it is better than its original reputation would indicate!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection.

And with that ends the month of January, and my celebration of Doris Day! Tune in tomorrow as we start the celebration of Clark Gable as the star for the month of February!

Film Length: 2 hours, 7 minutes

My Rating: 8/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

The Pajama Game (1957)Doris DayThe Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Ben-Hur (1959) – Stephen Boyd

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) – Jimmy Durante

Keep ‘Em Flying (1941) – Martha Raye

“Star Of The Month (January 2021)” Featuring Doris Day in… Love Me Or Leave Me (1955)

I’m back again for another entry in my Star Of The Month for January, and this time it’s Doris Day’s 1955 MGM musical Love Me Or Leave Me, also starring James Cagney! But first, we have a few theatrical shorts to get through!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Shape Ahoy (1945)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 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, 51 seconds)

Popeye and Bluto have come to a deserted island to get away from the ladies, but when a shipwrecked Olive comes ashore, their friendship and ideals go out the window! This one was bit more fun, even though it was still “Popeye Vs. Bluto.” Here, we have the two acting as friends throughout most of the short, although they obviously start competing for Olive’s affections increasingly (but are more or less stuck with each other to end the cartoon). Voice actress Mae Questel is pulling double-duty here, as she voices Olive Oyl (like usual), but also takes on the voice of Popeye! Up until this last viewing, I hadn’t really known that, but, upon learning that, I could definitely hear the difference. She’s not Jack Mercer, but she does well enough for me in a pinch!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Modern Cinderella (1932)

(available as an extra on the Love Me Or Leave Me Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 17 minutes, 24 seconds)

Ruth Etting plays Anita Ragusa, the daughter of a costume tailor. Her father has her deliver a dress to the hostess of a costume party, who doesn’t care for it. When Anita puts on the dress to model it, she is asked to sing at the party. It’s a fun little musical short, with Ruth Etting singing a few songs (admittedly all forgettable). There is one dancing duo that was fun to watch (not sure who they were). While not a great short, this one was fun to see.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Roseland (1930)

(available as an extra on the Love Me Or Leave Me Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 12 minutes, 11 seconds)

Helen Leslie (Ruth Etting), a dance hall girl, hopes to enter a singing contest being held on the radio. It’s a simple short, with a simple love story thrown in, too. No doubt due to the length, we only get Ruth Etting singing two songs here, but she handles them quite well and I enjoyed hearing her sing the Irving Berlin song “Let Me Sing And I’m Happy”. While I much prefer the other Ruth Etting short included on the Love Me Or Leave Me Blu-ray, this one was fun to watch as well!

Coming Up Shorts! with… A Salute To The Theatres (1955)

(available as an extra on the Love Me Or Leave Me Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 17 minutes, 9 seconds)

This short, also known as 1955 Motion Picture Theatre Celebration, features George Murphy as host. It acts as a promo for some of the various MGM films that were being made and released in 1955. Stars such as Esther Williams, Jane Powell, Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse make appearances here to help promote some of their films. Included are quick trailers for films such as Jupiter’s Darling, Bedeviled, The Glass Slipper, Interrupted Melody, Hit The Deck, The King’s Thief, Love Me Or Leave Me, Moonfleet, The Prodigal and It’s Always Fair Weather. It’s interesting mainly from the perspective of seeing how some of these movies were promoted back at this time.

And Now For The Main Feature…

Our story starts in the city of Chicago during the Roaring Twenties. Laundry owner and mobster Martin “The Gimp” Snyder (James Cagney) comes to visit the owner of a dance club to convince him to pay his dues. While he is there, taxi dancer Ruth Etting (Doris Day) gets into a fight with a customer who got too fresh, and is quickly fired. Martin learns that she has show business aspirations, and offers to get her a job onstage. She is suspicious of his motives (and she has a right to be), but he leaves the offer open for her, just the same. She takes up the offer, only to become a chorus dancer when she really wants to be a singer. She quickly makes a friend in the form of piano player Johnny Alderman (Cameron Mitchell), who offers to help her out himself by putting together arrangements and such. Martin hopes to take her to Miami, but she refuses and manipulates him into helping her become a singer (and gets Martin to pay Johnny to help her out). Through this, Johnny hears her talent firsthand, and he lets her know that she is good. Martin isn’t there to listen, but Ruth starts pestering him about getting her a chance to actually sing as a star of the show. It takes a little convincing (and getting the show’s star to stay away one night), but she is given the chance. Martin tries to stack the deck with some of his friends, but they all realize that she has a talent as a singer, and she becomes a sensation. Martin still has designs on her, but she is able to sidestep them and make it seem like it is his decision. Soon, an agent, Bernard Loomis (Robert Keith) comes to see her, offering her a chance to perform in New York City. However, Martin turns down the offer (much to her initial dismay), and then works to get her her own radio show. Johnny is brought in to be the conductor for the orchestra on her show. He tries to warn her to end things with Martin, but she doesn’t listen. Working with Loomis, Martin manages to secure a spot for her in the Ziegfeld Follies. This time, however, Johnny is not willing to go along, having an offer elsewhere, and he has no trouble in telling Martin off. While in New York City, Martin is further frustrated by the fact that everybody working on the Ziegfeld Follies show has no respect for him, as he tries to bully his way through everything like before. After Ruth’s first performance, he gets into a fight backstage and is thrown out. He then threatens to pull Ruth out of the show, which makes her mad, as being in the Follies is what she had been working towards. During the argument, all of Martin’s pent-up frustrations at her previous manipulations and her refusal to stand by him comes to a head, and he rapes her. Out of a sense of obligation to him, Ruth marries him, and he continues to manage her career through many nightclub appearances. At this point, though, she is going through the motions, and resorting to drinking a bit more. Martin is thrilled when Hollywood comes a-calling, and he is able to make a deal, but she doesn’t really show much enthusiasm for the news. It is only when she hears from Johnny Alderman, who had gone to Hollywood and would now be working with her on her upcoming film, that she brightens up a little. Martin quickly discovers Johnny’s presence himself when he meets with the producer, and he later talks Johnny down in private. Ruth won’t hear of it, and questions what Martin himself has actually accomplished. While taken aback at first, Martin sells his laundry business in Chicago and buys a nightclub, with the intention of having it remodeled. Meanwhile, Martin also gets jealous, as he is suspicious of a possible relationship between Ruth and Johnny. His suspicions result in friction between himself and Ruth, which eventually lead her to ask for a divorce. With all this mess, can things be resolved between the two, or will Martin’s jealousies lead to tragedy?

Love Me Or Leave Me was based on the real-life person Ruth Etting, her ex-husband Martin Snyder, and Myrl Alderman (whose name was changed to Johnny for the movie), and the film was in the planning stages at MGM as early as 1953. Casting proved difficult, as some of the people originally asked turned it down, and others were hopeful to get some of the big parts. But, when it came down to it, it was James Cagney who suggested casting Doris Day to the film’s producer, Joe Pasternak. She was just ending her contract with Warner Brothers after seven years, and was looking for a role that was far different than the lighter roles that she had been doing there. And, of course, she got it with this film (and it apparently shocked many of her fans at the time, too, that she did the role of a lewd woman who smoked, drank, and wore scanty costumes). In spite of her fans’ opposition, the film proved to be a hit, and both Doris Day and James Cagney considered it among their best films.

As I’ve been watching through Doris Day’s filmography in order this time (or, at least, the films I have on disc), I do see some of what the original audiences saw, as the movie is a shock after seeing her earlier stuff. That being said, I do find that this is one of her best performances! She does great playing a woman determined to make it to the top, and who is good at manipulating someone to get there. However, her manipulations can only get her so far before she truly gets into trouble, such as when she was raped and then married Cagney’s Martin Snyder. That was rough to see (although apparently tame compared to what they actually filmed before the censors stepped in). And Cagney’s Oscar-nominated performance is also one of his best (even if he is still playing a gangster)! The score is fun, although I can definitely say that I always enjoy her version of the Irving Berlin song “Shakin’ The Blues Away” (and considering how much I like the film Easter Parade, which also used that song, that’s saying something)! While this movie was most likely not completely accurate (although where it veers off, I would be hard-pressed to tell, since I don’t know much about Ruth Etting), it’s still a wonderful film from the 1950s, and it’s one I have no trouble recommending!

This movie is available on Blu-ray (certainly the best way to see it, in my opinion!) and DVD from Warner Archive Collection.

Film Length: 2 hours, 2 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Young At Heart (1954)Doris DayThe Pajama Game (1957)

White Heat (1949)James CagneyMister Roberts (1955)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

“Star Of The Month (January 2021)” Featuring Doris Day in… Young At Heart (1954)

As I continue on in celebrating actress and singer Doris Day as my Star Of The Month, I will now be looking at her 1954 film Young At Heart, which also stars Frank Sinatra. But, before we get to the movie, we have a few theatrical shorts to get through!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Tops In The Big Top (1945)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 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, 26 seconds)

Circus ringmaster Bluto tries to sabotage star attraction Popeye to get the attentions of Popeye’s assistant Olive. At best, a decent Popeye cartoon, with the usual stuff going on. This one is a lot more fun to see the visuals, with a lot of nice color (especially with this short restored). An improvement over the previous cartoon, but still debatable about its actual worth in seeing more than once.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pink Ice (1965)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of The Pink Panther Cartoon Collection: Volume 1 (1964-1966) from Kino Lorber)

(Length: 6 minutes, 17 seconds)

The Panther is operating a diamond mine, but a pair of rival miners steal his diamonds. One of the rare few Pink Panther cartoons in which the character actually talks. Whether you like that or not, it’s still a fun cartoon, with the two rival miners trying to set traps to stop him from taking back his diamonds, and then the traps work against them. Every now and then, this one can be fun to watch!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Music professor Gregory Tuttle (Robert Keith) lives with his three musically inclined daughters and his sister, Jessie (Ethel Barrymore). His oldest daughter, Fran (Dorothy Malone), has just gotten engaged to Robert Neary (Alan Hale Jr.). The plumber Ernest Nichols (Lonny Chapman) is interested in middle daughter Amy (Elisabeth Fraser), but she is kind of indifferent about his affections. Youngest daughter Laurie (Doris Day) is single, and makes a pact with sister Amy that they will either have a double wedding, or stay spinsters together for the rest of their lives. Things change up when Laurie meets composer Alex Burke (Gig Young), the son of a friend of their father. He manages to charm his way into boarding at their house while he works on the score for a Broadway musical. He catches the eyes of all three daughters, but he finds himself falling for Laurie in particular. Eventually, things go well enough on his show that Alex recruits his friend Barney Sloan (Frank Sinatra), an arranger, to help him work on the music. When Laurie meets Barney, she finds him to be quite cynical, as he believes that the “fates” (or “they,” as he refers to them) have it out for him. Laurie is unwilling to let him get away with that attitude, and tries to help him past it by pushing him to finish writing a song he had been working on. Right around her father’s birthday celebration, Alex asks Laurie to marry him, which she accepts, much to the dismay of Barney and her sister Amy. When Barney points out to her how much her sister Amy liked Alex right before the wedding, she decides to elope with Barney to New York City. In all the commotion from the family learning about her eloping, Ernest takes charge in trying to let the wedding guests know, which changes Amy’s opinion about him (for the better). In New York City, Barney and Laurie struggle through together. In spite of all their troubles, Laurie has indeed come to fall in love with him, but the cynic in Barney refuses to believe that she prefers him over Alex. When they manage to return to the Tuttle home for Christmas, they also find a successful Alex there, and Barney’s doubts come to a head.

Young At Heart was based on the short story “Sister Act” by Fannie Hurst. Warner Brothers had already brought the story to the big screen in 1938 as the movie Four Daughters. In the mid-1950s, Frank Sinatra was in the midst of a big career comeback after winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for From Here To Eternity. The producers wanted him for the movie, but he would only do it on the condition that they change the original sad ending of the story and give his character a happy one (which they did). The movie itself remained without a title until Frank’s recording of the song Young At Heart became a big hit. So, they made that the title of the movie, and had him sing it over the opening and closing credits.

I will readily admit that I have mixed feelings about this movie. I do like it overall, with Doris Day and Frank Sinatra in particular giving good performances in this movie (and the rest of the cast is right up there with them). The story itself is fun (I will have to admit that I have not seen the earlier Four Daughters or any of its sequels yet, so I can’t really compare it to them). Some of the music is fun and enjoyable to listen to. That being said, I do feel the movie has several problems. One of the most glaring, to my mind, is the film’s ending. It just feels too rushed, and makes me wish that Sinatra hadn’t forced them to change it from the original ending (which is what I thought the movie was leading up to). Had they had a better transition at the end, I might have been okay with it. Another problem (and this is purely my taste in music and singers) is that very little of the music is exactly memorable here. I know that Frank sings the song “One For My Baby (And One More For The Road),” which was one of his big hits, but I just don’t like his version of the song (I much prefer listening to Fed Astaire’s version of it from The Sky’s The Limit, as anybody else singing it, other than any of my close friends, just feels like nails on a chalkboard to me). Also, in spite of the promotional material making a big deal of Doris Day and Frank Sinatra working together here, they really don’t sing together outside of part of the film’s final song (and it makes you wish they had had more songs to sing together in this one, or at least more films together). Still, it’s not a completely terrible film, and one I do enjoy seeing every now and then. So I would recommend giving it a try, if given the opportunity to see it.

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

Film Length: 1 hour, 58 minutes

My Rating: 6/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Calamity Jane (1953)Doris DayLove Me Or Leave Me (1955)

On The Town (1949)Frank SinatraGuys And Dolls (1955)

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“Star Of The Month (January 2021)” Featuring Doris Day in… Calamity Jane (1953)

For my next contribution for January’s Star Of The Month, we have Doris Day’s classic 1953 musical Calamity Jane, also starring Howard Keel! As usual, we have our requisite theatrical shorts to get through, and then, we’ll be ready for the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Pop-Pie A La Mode (1945)

(available on Blu-ray and DVD as part of Popeye The Sailor: The 1940s Volume 1 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, 53 seconds)

After being shipwrecked, Popeye makes it to an island that, as he later discovers, is inhabited by cannibals. This one is a bit harder to say much positive about. The cannibals are all rather blatantly racist stereotypes, with their blackface-type appearance, as well as their overall manner of behavior. That alone says it all about this cartoon. On the one hand, it should be preserved, as it has been, but at the same time, it certainly is a reminder of our past (and sadly, still present) issues, and should be avoided by parents with young and impressionable children. One of the weakest cartoons from this set for that reason.

Coming Up Shorts! with… So You Love Your Dog (1953)

(available as an extra on the Calamity Jane Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 10 minutes, 31 seconds)

Joe McDoake’s “faithful” dog Dusty continues to get him in trouble by turning on him, both during war and peace. The dog very strongly resembles Lassie, and their intelligence makes this one quite fun. Poor Joe. He thinks Dusty is quite trustworthy, while the dog is actually trying to do him harm. Overall, it’s a bit of fun, and one of the few of the Joe McDoakes series that I’ve seen so far that I enjoyed enough that I would watch it again.

Coming Up Shorts! with… Duck Dodgers In The 24 1/2 Century (1953)

(available as an extra on the Calamity Jane Blu-ray from Warner Home Video)

(Length: 7 minutes, 4 seconds)

Duck Dodgers (in the 24 1/2 Century!) tries to claim Planet X in the name of the earth, but Marvin the Martian has other plans. Yep, it’s that classic Daffy Duck (Dodgers in the 24 1/2 Century!) cartoon! What more needs to be said? It’s always fun to laugh at Daffy’s antics here, especially with Porky Pig as the more adept “Eager Young Space Cadet” working in Daffy’s shadow. Seriously, it’s hard not to enjoy this one whenever I get the chance to see it! It may not have been restored for the 2015 Calamity Jane Blu-ray release, but the fun still shines through just the same!

And Now For The Main Feature…

Ah, “Calamity” Jane Canary (Doris Day). Trouble and her just seem to go together. Upon her return from riding shotgun on “The Deadwood Stage,” she learns from a pair of prospectors that Second Lieutenant Danny Gilmartin (Philip Carey), a soldier that she has a crush on, was killed by a Sioux war party. Or captured. The two prospectors didn’t really have a chance to find out, as they only narrowly escaped from the Sioux themselves. So, off Calamity rides, in hopes of finding the truth. She is able to find the Sioux war party, and, to her joy, she finds Danny alive. She quickly chases off the small band of Sioux, and rescues Danny.

Back in Deadwood, more trouble is brewing, as Calamity’s friend and proprietor of the Golden Garter saloon (and theatre), Henry “Milly” Miller (Paul Harvey), has hired Francis Fryer to headline his show. The problem? Milly was expecting an actress, not an actor! So he has Francis Fryer (Dick Wesson) dress in drag and pretend to be a woman, an act that doesn’t last long. With all Milly’s patron’s complaining and threatening to leave, Calamity tries to do what she can by promising them Milly has already sent for a big actress. When questioned about who he sent for, she mentions the only actress she can think of: Adelaid Adams (who was big around town because of her picture, which comes with some packs of cigarettes). Francis knows Adelaid, and he privately tells Milly that she would never come to Deadwood. Undaunted, Calamity goes off to Chicago (or maybe I should say “Chicagee,” like her). She catches a show, but is unable to see Adelaid Adams (Gale Robbins) up close. Going backstage, she meets Adelaid’s maid, Katie Brown (Allyn McLerie), in Adelaid’s dressing room, and assumes her to be Adelaid. In between the real Adelaid leaving and her own desires to be onstage, Katie decides to go with Calamity to Deadwood. Once there, she tries to perform like Adelaid, but fails. It comes out that she’s not Adelaid, and, after arguing with the audience, Calamity suggests they give her a shot anyways, since they all have their own dreams that they came to Deadwood hoping to see fulfilled. In doing it her own way, Katie makes a big hit with the men in town.

Calamity offers to take Katie out to live together in her cabin, and after the initial disappointment about the messy state of the place, the two of them work together to make it a home. While they are at it, Katie also gives Calamity a makeover to help her look more like a woman. Further trouble comes about when Danny and Calamity’s friend “Wild Bill” Hickok (Howard Keel) both come a-calling for Katie, with both hoping to bring her to an upcoming dance. Katie knows about Calamity’s feelings towards Danny, and tries to suggest they all go together. After drawing straws, Bill is stuck taking Calamity. At the dance, they and everybody are all awestruck to see how beautiful Calamity looks in a dress. However, Danny still only has eyes for Katie, and Calamity storms off after seeing them kiss. The next day, Calamity tells Katie to get out of town, before Bill takes her aside to tell her off. The question remains, will Katie go, or will all the relationship troubles get sorted out?

Calamity Jane was very much Warner’s answer to the MGM musical Annie Get Your Gun. Originally, Jack Warner had tried to get the rights to the stage musical of Annie Get Your Gun, intending it for Doris Day. However, MGM outbid him. When Judy Garland, who had originally been cast in Annie Get Your Gun, pulled out, Doris once again had hopes of doing the movie, but Jack Warner refused to loan her out, with the part going to Betty Hutton. Instead, Doris Day was given the part of Calamity Jane, with the role becoming one of her best-known, and one of her favorites (admittedly, it’s been said that Calamity Jane was a project already in the works for her even before the possibility of being in Annie Get Your Gun).

I will say that Calamity Jane was, if I’m remembering correctly, my introduction to Doris Day. At the time, I was more familiar with Howard Keel (mostly from Seven Brides For Seven Brothers). In all the time since, though, I’ve enjoyed watching this movie, as well as seeking out some of her other film musicals. I enjoy the overall film, from the cast, to the music, and the story as well. I know the movie version of Calamity Jane was far different from the real-life person, but I do enjoy this cleaned-up film (far more than the more recent HBO TV series Deadwood, which I barely could last through an entire episode of). The music in this movie, written by Sammy Fain and Paul Francis Webster, is quite memorable. I enjoy the “Deadwood Stage,” get a kick out of “I Can Do Without You” (which seems strangely reminiscent of “Anything You Can Do” from Annie Get Your Gun), and enjoy her signature tune “Secret Love,” but the song that’s always stuck in my head after watching this movie is her duet with Howard Keel for “The Black Hills Of Dakota.” That one I always enjoy. Honestly, this movie is a lot of fun, and I would have no trouble whatsoever recommending this one!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Home Video, either individually or as part of a four film Musicals collection.

Film Length: 1 hour, 41 minutes

My Rating: 10/10

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

On Moonlight Bay (1951)Doris DayYoung At Heart (1954)

Lovely To Look At (1952) – Howard Keel – Kiss Me Kate (1953)

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

What’s Old Is A New Release Again (2020) with… Young Man With A Horn (1950)

For today’s movie, we’ve got one that’s pulling double-duty! Besides being a recent release on Blu-ray, it also features actress and singer Doris Day, our Star Of The Month! That movie is the 1950 film Young Man With A Horn, which also stars Kirk Douglas and Lauren Bacall! Of course, we have a few theatrical shorts included on that Blu-ray release to get through first, and then it’s on to the movie!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hillbilly Hare (1950)

(available as an extra on the Young Man With A Horn Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 25 seconds)

Bugs Bunny faces off against two hillbillies out to feud with him. A fun cartoon I’ve enjoyed seeing since childhood. While it starts out with the two hillbillies trying to shoot him, the real fun begins with the “square dance.” Never fails to get me to laughing hysterically with all the stuff that Bugs manages to get them to do!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Homeless Hare (1950)

(available as an extra on the Young Man With A Horn Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 7 minutes, 6 seconds)

When a construction worker destroys Bugs’ home, he vows revenge. Another type of Bugs cartoon in which he is wronged, and decides to fight back. You just know that construction worker won’t know what hit him. Of course, I was surprised to see him get one good shot in on Bugs partway through, but at least that allows for some variety. Still worth a few good laughs!

Coming Up Shorts! with… Hurdy-Gurdy Hare (1950)

(available as an extra on the Young Man With A Horn Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection)

(Length: 6 minutes, 58 seconds)

Bugs buys a hurdy-gurdy and a monkey, hoping to make big money. But when he fires the monkey for not turning over the money, the monkey turns to a big gorilla to get back at Bugs. This one takes a moment to really get into the spirit of the thing, but, once it gets going, it’s a lot of fun! While the gags may not be the most original, it’s still fun to root for Bugs to win out (and enjoy a few good laughs along the way)!

And Now For The Main Feature…

As a young boy, little Rick Martin (Orley Lindgren) loses both his parents and is sent to live with his sister. He mostly keeps to himself, but one day he walks by a local mission. Mesmerized by the music, he listens and, after the service, teaches himself how to play the piano. He learns it quickly, but also feels a strong compulsion to play the trumpet. Unable to buy one, he starts working in a bowling alley to earn enough. One time, while on a break, he hears some jazz music from the club next door, and he decides to listen from outside the door. One time, when he is just listening to the band play when the club is closed, he accidentally makes his presence known. The lead trumpet player, Art Hazzard (Juano Hernandez), invites him in to listen, and is impressed when Rick knows what he’s talking about. So, Art helps him buy a trumpet, and teaches him how to play it. As he grows up, Rick (now played as an adult by Kirk Douglas) becomes quite talented. He ends up joining an orchestra lead by Jack Chandler (Walter Reed). While part of that orchestra, he meets and befriends piano player Smoke Willoughby (Hoagy Carmichael) and the orchestra’s singer, Jo Jordan (Doris Day). Rick likes to improvise with his music, but Chandler only wants his orchestra to play the music as written. Rick tries to control himself, but one night, during a break, he convinces Smoke and a few other musicians to join him in a jam session. Rick is promptly fired, and Smoke goes with him. After a while, the two decide to go their separate ways, and Rick makes his way to New York City. While there, he finds his old friend and mentor Art Hazzard playing at a club, and he decides to join him. Jo, who has also been doing very well, brings around orchestra leader Phil Morrison (Jerome Cowan), who gives Rick a job. So, for a while, Rick plays with Phil’s orchestra (doing it Phil’s way), and then leaves afterwards to join Art at the other club (where he can play his own way). One time, Jo brings along a friend of hers, Amy North (Lauren Bacall). Rick starts to fall for Amy (even though she warns him that she may be incapable of love), and they soon get married. However, they start to drift apart almost immediately, and Rick’s other relationships start to suffer as he tries to keep his marriage together. Art Hazzard meets him in a bar and tries to intervene. Rick is frustrated with everything and lashes out at Art, even though he doesn’t really mean it. However, in leaving the bar, Art is hit by a car. When Rick hears about the accident later, he tries to go see Art, but is too late, as Art is already dead by that time. Things come to a head with Amy, and they decide to get a divorce. Rick really starts to drink a lot, and finds himself struggling to play his trumpet well. He goes so far off the skids as to be picked up by a taxi driver and taken to rehab for his alcoholism. However, he has also come down with pneumonia, which has left him in bad shape. Can he recover, both from his illness and his alcoholism, or will this be it for Rick?

Young Man With A Horn is based on the 1938 fictional novel of the same name by Dorothy Baker. Her story was said to be inspired by the music of jazz cornetist Bix Beiderbecke. Cast member Hoagy Carmichael actually knew Bix Beiderbecke, and thus lends an air of authenticity to the movie. It’s been said that Kirk Douglas worked with Larry Sullivan, a studio musician at Warner Brothers, to make his trumpet playing look realistic, and Harry James dubbed his trumpet playing.

It’s probably no surprise that Doris Day’s presence in this movie is the main reason I wanted to see it (although the other two big stars in this movie certainly didn’t hurt). I enjoyed the film quite a bit. While it was Doris Day’s fourth film overall (and I’ve so far seen two of the earlier three), it’s interesting to see her in her first dramatic role. Obviously, it wasn’t a huge stretch for her to play a band singer (since she had been one), but I do feel she does well in the part, as we see her character come to care for Kirk’s Rick Martin, and try to help him out. As always, she is in fine voice for the various songs she does sing, and that works fine for me. The score overall is fun to listen to, with a few familiar songs, including one that “foreshadows,” if you will, her next film. Granted, she doesn’t sing the song “Tea For Two,” as it’s part of a montage of music being played by Kirk’s Rick Martin, but it’s fun just the same. And Kirk himself does well throughout the movie. I was entranced by his performance as we watched his ups and downs, both personally and professionally. Overall, a very enjoyable movie. The only part I wasn’t fond of was the ending. Now, I do enjoy (and prefer) happy endings in most of the movies I watch, but this one feels unearned. If what I’ve read on Imdb is true, then apparently this ending was forced on the film by Jack Warner, while director Michael Curtiz and Kirk Douglas wanted it a bit more downbeat, which would have been more accurate to what Bix Beiderbecke went through. To be fair, it’s not as bad as the forced ending on another one of Doris Day’s films (and you’ll find out which one later this month), and didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the movie. So, I would still definitely recommend this one without any reservations!

This movie is available on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection. Their Blu-ray makes use of a new remaster from a 4K scan of nitrate fine grain film elements (since the original camera negative is gone), and, boy, does this movie look (and SOUND) great! Seriously, this is indeed the way to enjoy this wonderful film!

Film Length: 1 hour, 52 minutes

My Rating: 9/10

As an Amazon Affiliate, this site gets a small percentage for every purchase made upon using one of the Amazon links, even if it’s not the movie I linked to (and it’s at no extra cost to you). If you like what I’m doing with the blog, please consider using them so that I can continue to do more!

List Of Actor/Actress Filmographies/Collections

Out Of The Past (1947) – Kirk Douglas – Two Weeks In Another Town (1962)

Dark Passage (1947) – Lauren Bacall – Designing Woman (1957)

My Dream Is Yours (1949)Doris DayTea For Two (1950)