Musical Monday: Bundle of Joy (1956)

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:
Bundle of Joy (1956) – Musical #158

Studio:
RKO Radio Pictures

Director:
Norman Taurog

Starring:
Debbie Reynolds, Eddie Fisher, Adolphe Menjou, Tommy Noonan, Nita Talbot, Una Merkel, Mary Treen, Melville Cooper, Bill Goodwin, Edward Brophy, Donald Gray, David Gray, Howard McNear

Plot:
After being fired from a department store, Polly Parish (Reynolds) discovers a baby (Gray, Gray) on the doorstep of an orphanage. No one will believe Polly that it’s not her baby and is forced to take responsibility for the baby. The orphanage gets Polly’s job back when they talk to the department store owner’s son, David Merlin (Fisher). David’s father and owner of the store (Menjou) takes an interest in the baby.

Trivia:
– Remake of “Bachelor Mother” (1939) starring Ginger Rogers and David Niven
– The baby was played by twins, Donald Gray and David Gray
– Eddie Fisher’s first feature film and the only film he made with then-wife Debbie Reynolds
– Debbie Reynolds was pregnant with Carrie Fisher while filming the movie.
– Producer George Jessel originally intended to remake “Bachelor Mother” in 1954 with Betty Hutton.
– The film co-starred real-life husband and wife, Debbie Reynolds and Eddie Fisher who were married from 1955 to 1959.

Debbie Reynolds with either Donald Gray and David Gray in “Bundle of Joy”

Notable Songs:
– “Lullaby in Blue” performed by Debbie Reynolds
– “Worry About Tomorrow” performed by Eddie Fisher and later Debbie Reynolds and Nita Talbot

Eddie Fisher, Debbie Reynolds and either Donald Gray and David Gray in “Bundle of Joy”

My review:
“Bundle of Joy” is one of those film phenomenon known as a “musical remake.” It’s a musical retelling of “Bachelor Mother” (1939), and both films were made at RKO Radio Pictures.

While I prefer “Bachelor Mother” (1939), “Bundle of Joy” (1956) is pretty good. In fact, of the musical remakes, I’ve watched recently, “Bundle of Joy” is better than most musical remakes.

“Bundle of Joy” is very colorful and I like the Christmas holiday theme of the film. Debbie Reynolds is her usual pert self and wears some lovely clothes by Howard Shoup.

But the problem with this film is Eddie Fisher. For starters, I don’t get the appeal but he also simply can’t act. If Reynolds had any other leading man, the film would have been better. However, Reynolds and Fisher were cast to capitalize off of their “America’s Sweetheart” marriage, even though Reynolds wrote in her autobiography, things were already starting to crumble. It’s an interesting note that Reynolds is playing a single girl who finds a baby, and she was pregnant in real life with Carrie Fisher (even though you can’t tell).

The songs in “Bundle of Joy” are pleasant enough, but fairly forgettable. And even though Debbie Reynolds had already proved herself as a singer in films, Eddie Fisher (unfortunately) sings the majority of the songs. Of the six songs, Debbie Reynolds got to sing twice, and Eddie Fisher sang in all six. I hate that type of unbalance in musicals.

One bright spot in “Bundle of Joy” is Una Merkel as the landlord, because it’s always great to see Una.

While “Bundle of Joy” is fine, it is not as good as “Bachelor Mother.” Much of it is line-for-line to “Bachelor Mother,” but there are a few differences. It’s an interesting novelty that pairs Reynolds and Fisher in their only film together, but I could have done without Fisher.

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