Christmas Musical Monday: By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)

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:
By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953)– Musical #174

Warner Brothers

David Butler

Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Leon Ames, Rosemary DeCamp, Billy Gray, Mary Wickes, Russell Arms, Maria Palmer, Walter ‘PeeWee’ Flannery, Merv Griffin (uncredited)

A sequel to On Moonlight Bay (1951), the story picks up in 1918 when Bill (MacRae) returns from World War I. Marjorie (Day) is anxious to discuss their wedding plans, as he promised when he left, but Bill doesn’t want to rush into wedlock. This causes a rift in their relationship. Marjorie’s brother Wesley (Gray) is still causing trouble in this film.

-The film is the sequel to On Moonlight Bay (1951)
-The fifth pairing of Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. The two starred in five films together.
-Loosely based on Booth Tarkington’s Penrod story
-Leon Ames was dubbed by Ray “Bud” Linn

Gordon MacRae returns home from World War I and Doris Day is ready to get married.

-Mary Wickes giving the introduction
-Thanksgiving sequence
-Christmas sequence

Notable Songs:
-“By the Light of the Silvery Moon” performed by Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Leon Ames and
Rosemary DeCamp
-“Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee” performed by Doris Day, Gordon MacRae and Russell Arms
-“My Home Town Is a One Horse Town” performed by Gordon MacRae
-“Ain’t We Got Fun” performed by Doris Day and Gordon MacRae
-“Just One Girl” performed by Gordon MacRae

My review:
When it comes to some film sequels, it can be rare that the story flows from the first or that the actors play the same characters. The Gidget series is a good example: All three films had different actresses playing the title role of Gidget.

But in “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” -sequel to “On Moonlight Bay“-the lead and supporting characters are all the same and we pick up where the last film ended. In “On Moonlight Bay,” Bill, played by Gordon MacRae, goes off to fight in World War I, and “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” picks up with Bill returning home from the war. Margie is still a tomboy and is fixing cars at the beginning, so the writers didn’t omit that since it was a focus in the first film.

While I prefer the story of “On Moonlight Bay” more, I still really love “By the Light of the Silvery Moon.” It is just as colorful, cozy and sweet as the first film. And one complaint I had in the first film was that the antics of the younger brother seemed to take over the film, but in the sequel, it doesn’t seem so bad. The only part I don’t like is the King Chanticleer number, performed by Doris Day.

“By the Light of the Silvery Moon” doesn’t span a full year like the first film and mainly focuses on the fall and winter. Thanksgiving is near the start of the film and the film ends with Christmas. This is a bit longer than the first film too.

The film ends with a Christmas-y ice skating scene.

There are some silly plotlines like the children thinking their father was cheating on their mother with a French actress. Also Doris Day’s hair is really bleached compared to the 1951 movie.

As I said last week, I love Day and MacRae as a screen team so much. In these films, Gordon MacRae looks so sweet, fresh and young so I hate knowing that his personal life wasn’t always so sunny. His career dropped off after 1956.

By the Light of the Silvery Moon ends with a Christmasy scene when Bill meets the family at a skating pond and surprises Margie, and the two finally decide to marry after bickering about tit throughout the whole movie.

While not as fun as the first, “By the Light of the Silvery Moon” is a sweet, colorful movie.

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