Musical Monday: Shine on Harvest Moon (1944)

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:
Shine on Harvest Moon (1944) – Musical #131

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Ann Sheridan, Dennis Morgan, Jack Carson, Irene Manning, S.Z. Sakall, Marie Wilson, Robert Shayne

Plot:
Set in the early 1900s, this fictional biographical film follows vaudeville and Broadway stars Nora Bayes (Sheridan) and Jack Norworth (Morgan). As the couple rises to the top, they are blackballed by an old show business enemy who buys all theater chains.

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Review: The Very Thought of You (1944)

World War II films are my favorite genre. This doesn’t just include films about battle—I love looking at life on the home front, the Army Nurse Corps, and how actors were involved in the war effort in real life.

Then there are the World War II romance films, which often can involve a quick love affair that leads to marriage. A girl and a soldier meet while he’s on leave, and they marry, hardly knowing each other. They often marry so they will have someone to write home to or the girl falls in love with the uniform (we see this in Best Years of Our Lives).

One of the best in this genre is “The Very Thought of You” (1944). Directed by Delmer Daves and starring Dennis Morgan and Eleanor Parker, “The Very Thought of You” looks at whirlwind wartime marriages, and the disapproval a girl might meet from her family. War era films often show families happily welcoming soldiers into their homes and feeding them sandwiches and milk. But not in “The Very Thought of You”—we see the opposite.

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Musical Monday: The Desert Song (1943)

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:
The Desert Song (1943) – Musical #500

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Robert Florey

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Irene Manning, Bruce Cabot, Faye Emerson, Lynne Overman, Gene Lockhart, Jack La Rue

Plot:
A group of desert bandits, lead by Paul Hudson (Morgan), work against Nazis in Morrocco who want to build a railroad for the Axis.

Dennis Morgan and Irene Manning in “Desert Song” (1943)

Trivia:
-Prior to it’s 2014 DVD release, this film was difficult to see due to a copyright issue with one of the songs in the film.
-This is one of several film versions of “Desert Song.” The first was in 1929 starring John Boles and Carlotta King, and another in 1953 starring Gordon MacRae and Kathryn Grayson. Since this was filmed during World War II, the Nazi aspect would be added.
-The remake had been planned since 1936, according to The Star-Spangled Screen: The American World War II Film by Bernard F. Dick
-New songs added to the film were “Fifi’s Song,” “Gay Parisienne,” and “Long Live the Night.”

Highlights:
-Dennis Morgan
-The Technicolor cinematography

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Musical Monday: Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (1951)

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.

paintingThis week’s musical:
Painting the Clouds with Sunshine (1951)– Musical #409

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Virginia Mayo, Gene Nelson, Lucille Norman, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, Virginia Gibson, Tom Conway, Wallace Ford

Plot:
Vince (Morgan) has a gambling problem and his girlfriend Abby (Norman) has had enough and leaves for Las Vegas with her two singing partners, Carol (Mayo) and June (Gibson). The three are in search for millionaires, but one follows him there: millionaire dancer Ted Lansing (Nelson). However, Ted’s family isn’t keen on him marrying a performer.

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Musical Monday: My Wild Irish Rose (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:
“My Wild Irish Rose” –Musical #309

picture

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Arlene Dahl, Andrea King, Alan Hale, George Tobias, George O’Brien, Sara Allgood, Ben Blue, William Frawley

Plot:
Fictional, biographical film on Irish singer Chauncey Olcott (Morgan); chronicling his rise to fame and connections with performer Lillian Russell (King) and William Scanlan (Frawley). As he climbs the ladder to fame, Olcott meets and falls in love with Rose Donovan (Dahl), who’s father (Hale) does not want her to be involved with Olcott.

Trivia:

Dennis Morgan as Chauncey Olcott and Andrea King as Lillian Russell in "My Wild Irish Rose" (1947).

Dennis Morgan as Chauncey Olcott and Andrea King as Lillian Russell in “My Wild Irish Rose” (1947).

-Chauncey Olcott was an performer, songwriter and actor who’s career spanned from 1894 until 1920. Born in New York, Olcott’s family was of Irish decent, so most of his songs had Irish themes to them. He was born in 1858 and died in 1932. According to critic Dorothy Parker, Lillian Russell and Olcott were friends and she helped his career.
-Alexis Smith was considered for the role of Lillian Russell, which went to Andrea King. Virginia Bruce was also set for the role, according to “The Women of Warner Brothers” by Daniel Bubbeo.
-Andrea King was dubbed in her role as Lillian Russell, according to Bubbeo’s book.
-“My costumes were the most beautiful I had ever seen and my jewelry was real. I had two armed guards with me at all times,” King said in Bubbeo’s book.
-Arlene Dahl’s first credited role.
-Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.
-The film was based from a 1939 story written by Olcott’s widow, Rita, called “Song in His Heart,” according to Bubbeo’s book.
-One of Warner Brother’s top films of 1948.

Highlights:
-Any time Dennis Morgan sings in any film is a highlight.

Dennis Morgan performs in "My Wild Irish Rose" (1947).

Dennis Morgan performs in “My Wild Irish Rose” (1947).

Notable Songs:
-Hush-a-Bye, Wee Rose of Killarney performed by Dennis Morgan
-My Wild Irish Rose performed by Dennis Morgan
-When Irish Eyes Are Smiling performed by Dennis Morgan
-Let Me Dream Some More performed by Dennis Morgan and Andrea King
-Mother Machree performed by Dennis Morgan

My Review:
chaunceyAs Comet Over Hollywood has discussed countless times before, many Hollywood biographical films, particularly those of the musical nature, are embellished and provide very little actual fact.
“My Wild Irish Rose” is no exception. The real Chauncey Olcott may look more like William Frawley than Dennis Morgan.
However, it’s a fun, colorful and entertaining film filled with notable Irish songs; all performed in Dennis Morgan’s velvety voice. While Morgan sings, George O’Brien and Ben Blue bring some comedy to the film.
Other familiar and likable Warner Brothers faces appear in this lush, Technicolor film including Alan Hale, Andrea King and George Tobias.
What I like about “My Wild Irish Rose,” is that Dennis Morgan truly gets center stage without having to share screen time, songs and leading ladies with Jack Carson. This seems to be a rare musical gem in Morgan’s career where he is the only singing lead, so we hear multiple Irish classic tunes performed by Mr. Morgan.
If you are a Dennis Morgan fan, love Irish music or simply want a nice film for St. Patrick’s Day, check out “My Wild Irish Rose.”

 

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Musical Monday: “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948)

It’s no secret that the Hollywood Comet loves musicals.
In 2010, I revealed I had seen 400 movie musicals over the course of 10 years. Now that number is over 500. To celebrate and share this musical love, here is my weekly feature about musicals.

One-Sunday-Afternoon-1948This week’s musical:
“One Sunday Afternoon” –Musical #494

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Raoul Walsh

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Don DeFore, Dorothy Malone, Janis Paige, Ben Blue, Oscar O’Shea, Alan Hale Jr.

Plot:
Set in the late 1800s, every man in town has their eye on beautiful Virginia Brush (Paige), including small town dentist Biff Grimes (Morgan) and his best friend Hugo Barnstead (DeFore).
The two are invited by Viriginia on a double date with her suffragette nurse friend Amy (Malone).Though Amy is sweet and pretty, Biff is unhappy that he is “stuck” with Amy.
Hugo wins over and Virgina and the two marry, and Biff ends up marrying Amy.
A few years later, Hugo and Virginia return to town, and Hugo gets Biff involved in his business. Hugo double-crosses Biff, who has to go to jail. When he gets out, Biff hopes to get revenge on Hugo.

Trivia:
-Version of earlier films “One Sunday Afternoon” (1933) starring Gary Cooper and Fay Wray and “The Strawberry Blonde” (1941) with James Cagney, Olivia DeHavilland and Rita Hayworth.
-All three films are based on the play “One Sunday Afternoon,” which opened in 1933 at the Little Theater in New York and ran more than 300 performances.
-Director Raoul Walsh originally wanted to cast Dane Clark as Biff (Morgan’s role), Eleanor Parker as Virginia (Paige’s role) and Donna Reed as Amy (Malone’s role), according to the book “Raoul Walsh: The True Adventures of Hollywood’s Legendary Director” by Marilyn Ann Moss.
-Walsh also wanted to cast Virginia Mayo as Virginia, but Warner cast Paige instead, angering Walsh, according to Moss’s book.
-Doris Day tested for the role of Amy, according to Moss’s book.
-Dorothy Malone is dubbed by Marion Morgan.

Hugo and Biff go on a bikeride with Virginia and Amy in "One Sunday Afternoon" (1948).

Hugo and Biff go on a bikeride with Virginia and Amy in “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948).

Notable Songs:
-One Sunday Afternoon performed by Dennis Morgan

My Review:
For better or worse, I can now say I have seen every film version of “One Sunday Afternoon” (okay, except for a 1959 TV special starring Janet Blair and David Wayne.)
Of the 1933 version starring Gary Cooper, the 1941 version starring James Cagney and this one- I would rank “One Sunday Afternoon” (1948) as the least enjoyable of the three films.
“The Strawberry Blonde” (1941) would be my favorite. It has it all: an excellent cast including Cagney, Jack Carson, Rita Hayworth and Olivia de Havilland; charm; humor and the end even includes a sing-a-long of “The Band Plays On.”
“The Strawberry Blonde” was one of Warner Brother’s top hits of 1941 and director Raoul Walsh considered it one of his favorite films.
When Walsh was assigned the musical remake of his favorite film, he was uncertain, according to Marilyn Ann Moss’s book on Walsh.
Walsh felt Warner Brothers was getting a reputation for remakes and Warner continued cutting costs on the 1948 film, with is probably partially why top actresses like Virginia Mayo and Eleanor Parker were not cast, according to Moss’s book.

Publicity photo of Dorothy Malone and Dennis Morgan for "One Sunday Afternoon."

Publicity photo of Dorothy Malone and Dennis Morgan for “One Sunday Afternoon.”

Though filming went smoothly, it wasn’t the same happy experience for Walsh as he had with Cagney, Hayworth, Carson and De Havilland, Moss wrote.
For me, it’s another case of the impossible task of trying to improve on perfection. With such a fun story, the 1948 version of “One Sunday Afternoon” is lackluster compared to the other two. I feel the cast and the addition of forgettable music contributed to this being a dud.
Dennis Morgan, who I love, couldn’t even save this film with his smooth singing voice and good looks as leading man Biff Grimes.
Don DeFore is fine as the heel Hugo Barnstead, but it would have been fun to see Dennis Morgan with his frequent co-star Jack Carson. Carson would have been reprising his role from “The Strawberry Blonde.”
I like Janis Paige as an actress, and she had the right amount of sex appeal and sass for the role of Virginia, but I felt like something was lacking.
Dorothy Malone (still a brunette) seemed like the only person trying to develop her character and was sweet and adorable (this was before she became a Hollywood sex pot) but just wasn’t quite as appealing as Olivia De Havilland in the role.
Walking away from the film, I couldn’t tell you anything about any of the songs, because they were that forgettable. Dennis Morgan sang an Irish song, which shouldn’t be surprising for anyone who has watched several Morgan films.
I don’t mean to be so negative about the musical remake of “One Sunday Afternoon.”
When I rewatched this film, I was positive I had seen it before. But then remembered I stopped it half way two times prior to viewing over the years because I thought it was so dumb.
Maybe if I saw this version before the other two, it would have ranked higher in my book. I also feel with stronger leading ladies previously mentioned in the trivia such as Donna Reed, Eleanor Parker or Virgina Mayo could have been a much better film.
However, it just doesn’t cut the mustard for me in the way of entertainment.

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Musical Monday: “The Time, the Place and the Girl” (1946)

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:

“The Time, The Place, The Girl” – Musical #490

picture

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
Dennis Morgan, Martha Vickers, Jack Carson, Janis Paige, S.Z. “Cuddles” Sakall, Alan Hale, Donald Woods, Florence Bates, Angela Greene
Themselves: Carmen Cavallaro, dancer brothers Frank and Harry Condos

Plot:
Steven Ross (Morgan) and Jeff Howard (Carson) are trying to open a night club in New York.
However, problems arise when they realize their club is next door to classical conductor Ladislaus Cassel (Sakall) and his opera singing granddaughter Vicki (Vickers). Vicki’s stuffy manager Martin Drew (Woods) works to shut the club down with the help of Vicki’s equally proper grandmother (Bates), under the premise that the noise would bother the home’s high-brow performers.
Tired of being controlled by Martin-who also sets her bedtime and won’t let her go out, Vicki slips away form home and meets Ross and Howard. Becoming friends with them, she helps to keep their club open and finds a backer for their show.

Dennis Morgan shows S.Z. Sakall and Martha Vickers how to play swing on the flute.

Dennis Morgan shows S.Z. Sakall and Martha Vickers how to play swing on the flute.

Trivia:
-Martha Vickers was dubbed by Sally Sweetland.
-Nominated for Best Music, Original Score for the song “A Gal in Calico” written by Arthur Schwartz and Leo Robin.

Awards/Nominations:
-Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Song for “A Gal in Calico” by Arthur Schwartz and Leo Robin

Highlights:
-Girls dressed as cows in the “A Gal in Calico” number. I just thought it was amusing. 
-Pianist Carmen Cavallaro appearing in the film. 

Notable Songs:
-“A Gal in Calico” sung by Jack Carson and Dennis Morgan
-“Through a Thousand Nights” sung by Dennis Morgan and performed by Carmen Cavallero
-“A Rainy Night in Rio” performed by Jack Carson, Dennis Morgan, Janis Paige, Martha Vickers (Sally Sweetland)
-“Oh, But I Do” sung by Dennis Morgan

My Review:
There is nothing remarkable about “The Time, The Place and the Girl,” but it’s fun.
I think the most notable thing about the film are it’s two leading men: Dennis Morgan and Jack Carson. The two actors starred in several films together. These days, I think they are often overlooked as a comedic duo.
Their film appearances together include: Wings for the Eagle (1942), The Hard Way (1943), Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), Shine on Harvest Moon (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944), Two Guys from Milwaukee (1946), One More Tomorrow (1946),Always Together (1947), Two Guys from Texas (1948) and It’s a Great Feeling (1949)
It’s also fun to see Janis Paige as a young Warner starlet. I feel that in the 1940s, she took over the goofy sexpot roles that Jane Wyman previously played for Warner Brothers.
S.Z. Sakall is always funny and adorable with his accent and mispronunciations (this time he calls Philadelphia “PhillyDilly”), and Florence Bates is good in nearly every film she plays.
Maybe what was slightly lacking for me was the leading lady. Martha Vickers was certainly lovely to look at, but not overly memorable for me. It seemed like she was stepping in to a Joan-Leslie-Like role but didn’t have the sweetness and shine that Leslie had.
One low point is when Jack Carson sings in black face. The theatrical makeup is always off-putting and (obviously) dated but not a stranger to any pre-1960 musical.
Overall, the film is colorful and has some great music. Maybe it would have raised in the ranks slightly for me if there was another leading lady.

Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Martha Vickers and Dennis Morgan during the "Rainy Night in Rio" number.

Jack Carson, Janis Paige, Martha Vickers and Dennis Morgan during the “Rainy Night in Rio” number.

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