Musical Monday: The Student Prince (1954)

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:
The Student Prince – Musical #467

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director: Richard Thorpe

Starring:
Ann Blyth, Edmund Purdom, John Ericson, Louis Calhern, Edmund Gwenn, S.Z. Sakall, Betta St. John, John Williams, Evelyn Varden, Richard Anderson, John Hoyt, John Qualen, Mario Lanza (singing voice)

Plot:
Prince Karl Franz (Purdom) is set to marry Princess Johanna (St. John) to help his kingdom financially. When the princess finds Prince Karl to be stuffy and unfeeling, he is sent by the King (Calhern) to Heidelberg to study and also learn how to be a human being. While at the university, Prince Karl falls in love with a barmaid, Kathy (Blyth), he has to choose between love and duty.

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Musical Monday: “The Helen Morgan Story” (1957)

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.

Tthe-helen-morgan-story-movie-poster-1957-1020431163his week’s musical:
The Helen Morgan Story” –Musical #481

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Michael Curtiz

Starring:
Ann Blyth, Paul Newman, Richard Carlson, Ed Platt, Gene Evans, Alan King, Cara Williams, Virginia Vincent, Juanita Moore, Leonid Kinskey
As themselves: Rudy Vallee, Walter Winchell, Jimmy McHugh

Plot:
Biographical musical film on the life of singer Helen Morgan. The film starts with Morgan (Blyth) starting out her career dancing at a carnival show that is managed by Larry Maddux (Newman).
Morgan becomes famous, going from nightclub singer to Broadway star. Along the way, her alcoholism and on and off relationship with Maddux torment her.
Morgan hits rock bottom, broke and drunk. The movie ends with Morgan healthy and being honored by celebrities and Walter Winchell.

Trivia:

Ann Blyth and Paul Newman in a publicity still for "The Helen Morgan Story"

Ann Blyth and Paul Newman in a publicity still for “The Helen Morgan Story”

-Ann Blyth had a lovely singing voice but was dubbed by singer Gogi Grant.
In an interview, TCM Primetime Host Robert Osborne asked Ann Blyth why she was dubbed.
Blyth told Osborne she figured Warner Brothers wanted a different sound so chose Grant. When Blyth was researching the role, she listened to a record of the real Helen Morgan and her voice was actually more soprano and not very strong. But Grant was popular at the the time, and she figured the producers thought that would help promote the movie.
The critics felt Blyth’s voice would have worked better in the film.

 

-“The Helen Morgan Story” was Ann Blyth’s last theatrical film.
In an interview with Robert Osborne, she said the parts just weren’t there anymore. She later was offered the lead in “The Three Faces Of Eve” which Joanne Woodward won an Academy Award for.

-Peggy Lee, Susan Hayward, Jennifer Jones, Judy Garland, Patti Page and Doris Day were all considered for the lead.

-Doris Day turned down the role of Helen Morgan, because she thought the hard drinking character would hurt her career. Day had similar concerns before she portrayed Ruth Etting in “Love Me or Leave Me” (1955), according to her autobiography.

-The same year, five months before the film was released, Polly Bergen portrayed “Helen Morgan” on television on “Playhouse 90.” Bergen won an Emmy for Best Lead Performance by an Actress.

Notable Songs:
All of the songs are performed by Gogi Grant and are well known, including:
-“Can’t Help Loving that Man of Mine” from “Show Boat”
-“Bill” from “Show Boat”
-“The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else”
-“Someone to Watch Over Me”
-“Somebody Loves Me”
-“You Do Something to Me”
-“Why Was I Born?”

For comparison of Helen Morgan and Gogi Grant’s voices, both singing “Why Was I Born?” –

Helen Morgan:

Gogi Grant who dubbed Ann Blyth: 

My Review:

The real Helen Morgan

The real Helen Morgan

Fifty-seven years later, I’m upset that Ann Blyth was dubbed by Gogi Grant.
Blyth said she thought Warner was looking for a different sound, but Blyth would have sang the songs well.

Also, the real Helen Morgan’s voice matched Blyth’s voice more than the belting, Judy Garland-Like Grant’s voice.
Obviously as the story of Helen Morgan’s life is a bit fabricated.

Morgan was married three times, which wasn’t shown in the film. She also died of liver failure due to alcoholism in 1941, yet the film unsurprisingly painted a happy ending.

The Helen Morgan Story” isn’t a great movie, but it isn’t bad either. It is simply a run-of-the-mill sad, torch singer biopic that was characteristic of the 1950s. This time it was just Ann Blyth in the lead role, rather than Susan Hayward.

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“I have nothing but wonderful memories of Joan”-Mildred Pierce and Ann Blyth

A packed house at the Egyptian Theater rose to their feet, cheering like Freddie Mercury was entering the building.
But the applause was for a petite, doll-like and lovely actress: Ann Blyth.
Blyth introduced Mildred Pierce (1945), a film that she plays Joan Crawford’s spoiled daughter, Veda.
Robert Osborne interviewed her, pointing out that it was lucky Blyth wasn’t typecasted as bad girls after this film. In fact, her roles were usually sweet after this.
He also pointed out that she tried to dispel negative Joan Crawford rumors.
“I have nothing but wonderful memories of Joan,” Blyth said.
Blyth also told about attractive men she worked with such as Tyrone Power who had beautiful brown eyes.
When she went on to MGM to be in musicals she said “It was a heavenly experience and I had the opportunity to sing beautiful music.”
She quit acting because she didn’t like the direction films were going in but later found that was a mistake because she had been considered for “The Three Faces of Eve.”
She also said she still sees friends such as Jane Powell, Jane Withers and Joan Leslie at least three times a year.
The best part of Mildred Pierce was when the whole audience cheered when Joan Crawford slapped Ann Blyth.

Saturday morning I saw:
-Bugs Bunny Cartoons for his 75th birthday: Leonard Maltin introduced the cartoons saying how Warner Brothers cartoons were the first to have the characters talk at the screen. I’ll admit I had a bit of a moment while watching, thinking about my childhood. Classical music and old actors were also introduced to me by classic cartoons.

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-A Lady Vanishes (1938): Introduced by Leonard Maltin and 98 year old Saboteur actor, Norman Lloyd. He gave up a tennis game to speak. He said A Lady Vanishes and 39 Steps were the last two English films Hitchcock made and were both perfection.
“I tell film students, don’t go to film school. Just watch 39 Steps,” said Lloyd.

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Desert Song (1943) starring Dennis Morgan. Robert Osborne introduced the film so I sat in the front like a nerd so I could get a close picture. Osborne said this movie hadn’t been seen in 50 years because of copyright problems. As a musical fan and Dennis Morgan lover, I have always wanted to see this movie. I have also seen the 1953 remake with Kathryn Grayson and Gordon MacRea so I was comparing the two as I watched it. The 9143 version was colorful and beautiful, but I enjoyed the leading lady and plot better in the 1953 version. Osborne stayed and watched the film as well because he said this was the film he was most looking forward to. After the film I waited outside and got a photo with him.

-Island of Lost Souls (1932) starring Lelia Hyams, Richard Arlen and Charles Laughton. I went to the midnight showing of this film. I’d seen it before last summer but it was awesome to watch this freaky film so late at night. I think several of the viewers fell asleep. Running around and watching movies all day is very tiring!

Apologies in advanced for any typos. I’m using WordPress on my phone which is slightly cumbersome.

Now its the last day and I’m waiting to go in to Come September. Follow me @HollywoodComet or @StarJPickens.