Musical Monday: I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of eight years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

ill see you in my dreamsThis week’s musical:
I’ll See You in My Dreams” (1951)–Musical #180

Warner Brothers

Michael Curtiz

Doris Day, Danny Thomas, Frank Lovejoy, Patrice Wymore, James Gleason, Mary Wickes, Jim Backus, Hans Conreid (uncredited)

A biographical film about lyricist Gus Khan (Thomas) who wrote several popular songs such as “It Had To Be You,” “Pretty Baby,” “San Francisco,” “The Carioca” and “Tootise” just to name a few. The film Khan as he meets his composing partner Grace (Day) who he eventually marries.
Grace is a song plugger and Gus wanted her help publishing songs. She gave him advice to write a love song:
“Do you know why you write a popular song? Boys and girls don’t know how to say I love you, so you help them with 32 bars of music.”
The film shows the songwriter’s ups and downs in his career from getting started and having his songs in the Ziegfeld Follies to losing everything in the 1929 stock market crash and moving to Hollywood and rebuilding his career. The whole way, his wife is there helping him make the next move in his career. The film starts in 1908 and ends in the 1930s.

Gus (Thomas) missed the birth of his child because he was writing "It Had to Be You." Day wrote this scene made her emotional because of her life experiences.

Gus (Thomas) missed the birth of his child because he was writing “It Had to Be You.” Day wrote this scene made her emotional because of her life experiences.

-When Danny Thomas sings to Doris Day at her maternity bedside in the film, Day got very emotional thinking about how her first husband, Al Jordan was not present when her son Terry was born, she wrote in her autobiography, Doris Day: Her Own Story.
“In the way Danny played the scene, there was a sense of his remorse in having not been with me when the baby came (in the movie. His character was writing a song and lost track of time.),” she wrote. “When Danny started his song, I couldn’t help but cry, for what came to mind was the birth of my own baby, how Al Jorden had not been with me, and how alone and unfulfilled I felt.”

-Grace Kahn, Gus’s wife, was the technical adverser for the film, according to TThe Casablanca Man: The Cinema of Michael Curtiz by James C Robertson.

-Gordon MacRea was director Michael Curtiz’s first choice to play Gus Kahn, according to Robertson’s book.

The real Gus Kahn (left) with composer Arthur Johnson in 1935 at MGM.

The real Gus Kahn (left) with composer Arthur Johnson in 1935 at MGM.

-Grace LeBoy Kahn, who Doris Day portrayed, was still alive when the film was made. Gus Kahn, played by Danny Thomas, died in 1941. The two were married in 1916 until his death. Grace died in 1983.

-“I’ll See You in My Dreams” was Warner Brother’s second top grossing film for 1952 and was Curtiz’s last financial success for the studio, according to Robertson’s book.

-The album soundtrack from this film reached number one on the Billboard charts.



Notable Songs:
-“Gee, I Wish That I Had a Girl” sung by Doris Day
-“My Buddy” sung by Doris Day
-“Pretty Baby” sung by Danny Thomas
-“She’s Nobody’s Sweetheart Now” sung by Doris Day
-“The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else) sung by Doris Day
-“It Had to Be You” sung by Danny Thomas
-“Makin’ Whoopee” sung by Doris Day and Danny Thomas
-“Ain’t We Got Fun” played on a record but sung as a duet by Day and Thomas on the album


The record my Mom and I nearly wore out.

The record my Mom and I nearly wore out.

I knew all the songs before I saw this movie.
When Mom was in middle school, her father (my grandfather) had a 78 record of the “I’ll See You in My Dreams” soundtrack. He was going to throw it away, so she asked to keep when she saw Doris Day on the album cover. When I began getting interested in Doris Day when I was 13, my mom pulled out the record and I listened to it constantly.
When I first saw this movie back in 2005, Mom and I both knew all the words to the songs Kahn made popular because of that 78 but neither of us had ever seen the movie before.
When Mom and I rewatched this movie on Sunday, we both softly sang along to all of his hit tunes.
Clearly this movie has a special place in my heart.
Sentimentality aside, I love the cast and the music. Mary Wickes is always hilarious and Day and Thomas are wonderful.
Though it is questionable about how accurate biographical films are, this one is still a lot of fun with an excellent score to accompany a fairly touching story.

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3 thoughts on “Musical Monday: I’ll See You in My Dreams (1951)

  1. Aw, Doris. That’s sad about her husband missing her baby’s birth. This is one of the few Doris Day movies I haven’t seen, but reading your review makes me want to get out my DVD and remedy that soon.


  2. What a lovely story about your reason for having a special place in your heart for this movie. I saw this a long time ago, and would like to see it again. Love the songs, Doris, and Danny Thomas!


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