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 600. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.
This week’s musical:
Because You’re Mine (1952) – Musical No. 604
Director: Alexander Hall
Mario Lanza, Doretta Morrow, James Whitmore, Bobby Van, Rita Corday (billed as Paula Corday), Dean Miller, Jeff Donnell, Spring Byington, Don Porter, Eduard Franz, Dabs Greer (uncredited)
Renaldo Rossano (Lanza) is a famous opera singer who is drafted into the Army. His sergeant, Batterson (Whitmore) turns out to be a big fan of Rossano and gives him preferential treatment. Batterson also introduces Rossano to his sister Bridget (Morrow), hoping that Rossano can give her a break. Rossano helps out, hoping it will get him out of the Army and back on stage, but then he falls in love with Bridget.
• Doretta Morrow’s only first and feature film role. She was in a total eight TV and film projects, but the other seven were TV shows and made-for-TV movies. Morrow was better known for her roles on Broadway.
• Peggy Bonini dubbed Rita Corday’s singing voice.
• Mario Lanza’s lowest grossing film at this point in his career, and also produced his last hit song, “Because You’re Mine.”
• Rita Corday is billed as Paula Corday
• Bobby Van’s second film and first credited role.
• Actor Jonathan Cott provided the narration at the beginning of film.
• Working title was “The Big Cast”
• Produced by Joe Pasternak
• The Technicolor
• Bobby Van dancing
• “The Lord’s Prayer” performed by Mario Lanza
• “The Song the Angels Sing” performed by Mario Lanza
• “Because You’re Mine” performed by Mario Lanza and Doretta Morrow
• “Be My Love” performed by Doretta Morrow
In 1949, Mario Lanza’s film career started off with great promise. With a broad, affable smile, and booming tenor singing voice, Lanza won over his audiences in “That Midnight Kiss.”
But by 1952, Lanza’s luck was changing. His next picture was to be “The Student Prince,” but he was dismissed but his singing voice was used for the leading actor. His contract was dropped by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and he didn’t make another film until four years later – “Serenade” (1956).
“Because You’re Mine” was the last of Lanza’s quality films while at the top of his game. It also provided his final million-selling hit song, the title song “Because You’re Mine.”
“Because You’re Mine” is an entertaining comedy musical with a fun cast. Mario Lanza plays a drafted opera singer (almost like Elvis being drafted years later!), James Whitmore plays his opera-loving sergeant, Jeff Donnell plays Whitmore’s girlfriend, and Doretta Morrow plays Whitmore’s sister who has ambitions of an opera career.
If you haven’t heard of Doretta Morrow, there’s a good reason. This was her only feature film and she has seven TV credits. Morrow was better known for her Broadway roles, such as Tuptim in the original Broadway run of “The King and I” and Marsinah in the original Broadway run of “Kismet.”
Morrow has a lovely opera voice and sings “Be My Love,” a song performed by Kathryn Grayson in the MGM musical “The Toast of New Orleans” (1950) with Mario Lanza.
For me, James Whitmore’s character is the real highlight of the film. When he first sees Lanza and asks for his autograph and reveals himself as an opera fan, it is a funny and sweet moment. Spring Byington also has a small role, that seems to waste her talents.
This film isn’t bad but not extraordinary for Mario Lanza. Like his career, his characters seemed to change from an almost Gene Kelly-like likable fellow to self-assured characters who are confident to a fault. Lanza’s character isn’t the most likable, though you do cheer for him.
“Because You’re Mine” is an interesting MGM musical because it’s the beginning of the end for Lanza’s career. While it’s not the best known musical, it’s still one worth catching.