Musical Monday-Academy Award Winners: Mother Wore Tights (1947)

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.

This week’s musical:
Mother Wore Tights– Musical #215

mother wore tights

20th Century Fox

Walter Lang

Betty Grable, Dan Dailey, Mona Freeman, Connie Marshall, Sara Algood, William Frawley, Sig Ruman, Lee Patrick, Robert Arthur, Vanessa Brown, Kathryn Grimes (uncredited), Mae Marsh (uncredited), Kathleen Lockhart (uncredited)
Narrator: Ann Baxter

Narrated from the point of view of a grown daughter, the story follows Myrtle McKinley (Grable) who graduates from high school and accidentally finds herself in vaudeville; shirking her original plans of business college. In vaudeville, she meets and falls in love with fellow performer, Frank Burt (Dailey). The two eventually get married, have children and adjust to life on the road with their children.

-Betty Grable was pregnant while filming “Mother Wore Tights.”

-Based on the book “Mother Wore Tights” by Miriam Young, which was a memoir about growing up in a vaudeville family.

-Betty Grable has said this was her favorite film.

Betty Grable and Dan Dailey in one of their first films.

Betty Grable and Dan Dailey in one of their first films.

-“Mother Wore Tights” was the first of four films that teamed Grable and Daily. The others included “When My Baby Smiles at Me” (1948), “My Blue Heavens” (1950) and “Call Me Mister” (1951).

-The song “(Rolling Down Bowling Green) On a Little Two-Seat Tandem” was cut from the film.

-Fred Astaire or James Cagney had been considered for the male lead, according to Hollywood Musicals Year by Year by Stanley Green

-This was Betty Grable’s most successful film, according to Green’s book.

-Mona Freeman was dubbed by Imogene Lynn.

Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture: Alfred Newman
-Best Cinematography, Color: Harry Jackson
-Best Music, Original Song: Josef Myrow (music) and Mack Gordon (lyrics) for the song “You Do”.

Alfred Newman with Donald Crisp and his Academy Award for "Mother Wore Tights."

Alfred Newman with Donald Crisp and his Academy Award for “Mother Wore Tights.”

-Betty Grable and Dan Dailey’s screen chemistry

Notable Songs:
-“Burlington Bertie from Bow” performed by Dan Dailey
-“You Do” performed by both Dan Dailey and Betty Grable
-“This Is My Favorite City” performed by Dan Dailey and Betty Grable
-“Kokomo, Indiana” performed by Dan Dailey and Betty Grable

My review:
There is usually something special about a Betty Grable film and “Mother Wore Tights” is no exception.

Grable and Dailey in one of their numbers.

Grable and Dailey in one of their numbers.

For starters, “Mother” co-stars Grable with my favorite of her leading men: Dan Dailey. While John Payne, Cesar Romero and Don Ameche are all terrific, Dan Dailey is the first who seems to match Grable’s energy of selling a song. Their dances and numbers are captivating to watch.

“Mother Wore Tights” is also a sweet nostalgia piece that will bring a smile to your face. The story is based on the memoirs of a woman who grew up in vaudeville family.

The film begins with Dailey and Grable in elderly makeup and is a retrospective of Grable getting into vaudeville, the two meeting, marrying and having children, who are played by Mona Freeman and Connie Marshall. Trying to place your finger on the voice narrating the film? That’s actress Ann Baxter, telling the story through the point-of-view of one of the daughters all grown up.

Their vaudeville story is sprinkled with lively musical numbers and colorful costumes designed by Orry-Kelly. The score won composer Alfred Newman an Academy Award.

Grable, Freeman, Dailey and Marshall in "Mother Wore Tights."

Grable, Freeman, Dailey and Marshall in “Mother Wore Tights.”

As an added bonus: Betty Grable was pregnant while shooting the film. It’s fun to watch as she jumps between being slender and slightly fuller due to pregnancy since scenes were filmed out of sequence. It’s also entertaining to see how they cleverly hid her growing stomach: large ostrich feather fans and banjos.

“Mother Wore Tights” was one of Betty Grable’s personal favorites, and it’s one of my favorite films of her’s as well. Don’t miss this one.

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4 thoughts on “Musical Monday-Academy Award Winners: Mother Wore Tights (1947)

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