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

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
David Butler

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

Plot:
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.

Trivia:
-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.

Highlights:
-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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Christmas Musical Monday: On Moonlight Bay (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.

This week’s musical:
On Moonlight Bay (1951) – Musical #118

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Roy Del Ruth

Starring:
Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Leon Ames, Rosemary DeCamp, Billy Gray, Mary Wickes, Jack Smith, Ellen Corby

Plot:
Starting in 1916, the film looks at a year in the life of the Winfield family. The films starts when the family moves to a new neighborhood hoping to refine their tomboy daughter Marjorie (Day). Marjorie falls in love with college student William Sherman (MacRae), whose has college ideas have him saying he doesn’t believe in marriage and that banks are parasites. These ideas don’t please her parents (Ames and DeCamp), so Marjorie dates several other young men, but she is preoccupied with thoughts of William. The film is filled with antics of her younger brother (Gray).

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Musical Monday: The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady (1950)

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.


The_Daughter_of_Rosie_O'Grady_FilmPosterThis week’s musical:

“The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” – Musical #387

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
David Butler

Starring:
June Haver, Gordon MacRae, S.Z Sakall, Gene Nelson, Debbie Reynolds, Marcia Mae Jones, Jane Darwell, James Barton, Sean McClory, Virginia Lee

Plot:
Set right at the end of the Spanish-American War in 1898, overly protective father Dennis O’Grady (Barton) doesn’t want his three daughters (Haver, Reynolds, Jones) to be in show business. The vaudeville lifestyle is what caused his wife, Rosie O’Grady, to pass away. He also is wary of his daughters dating, though one is secretly married.
But Patricia (Haver)-the daughter of Rosie O’Grady- disobeys and walks through the theater district and meets Tony Pastor (Gordon). Tony takes a fancy to Patricia, and she starts a career in vaudeville and a romance with Tony.

Trivia:
-Debbie Reynold’s first speaking film. Previously she was in “June Bride” (1948) but did not have any lines.
-Gordon MacRae’s character plays Tony Pastor, who in real life was vaudeville performer and he owned a theater. He was known as the “Father of Vaudeville.” Though MacRae’s character shares a name with Pastor, there doesn’t seem to be any other similarity.

The O'Grady daughters: June Haver, Marcia Mae Jones, Debbie Reynolds

The O’Grady daughters: June Haver, Marcia Mae Jones, Debbie Reynolds

Highlights:
-Gene Nelson dancing. Nelson is one of the most underrated tap dancers of the Golden Era.
-Christmas is included in the movie. Christmas scenes always make me happy.
-Debbie Reynolds first time speaking on screen.

 

 

 

Notable Songs:
-“My Own True Love and I” sung by June Haver and James Barton
-“Winter” sung by June Haver
-“Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” sung by Gordon MacRae

june haverMy Review:
“Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” is visually beautiful in Technicolor and chock full of Warner contract players.
However, it does not seem to be in any way connected with the 1943 20th Century Fox film “Sweet Rosie O’Grady” starring Betty Grable. No, it doesn’t appear that June Haver is supposed to be Grable’s daughter.
While the film is pleasant, something falls short.
I think it’s possibly because I feel like some of the talents are wasted.
Gene Nelson, who plays dancer Doug Martin in the film, is probably one of the most underrated dancers of the Golden Era. But that superlative isn’t obvious in this movie.
He has one solo dance and a few partner dances with Miss Haver, and while his footwork is fancy, it wasn’t enough to show off his true talent.
Golden voiced Gordon MacRae also doesn’t sing enough songs in this film.
When June Haver started in Hollywood, she was dubbed the “Pocket Betty Grable” and pitted as a rival to the star with the Million Dollar Legs. But when I see Haver in films, something is lacking that is in every Grable film for me.
She is pleasant, pretty, dances well and I like her well enough, but I can’t put my finger on what is missing.
I think the most notable thing about this film is 18-year-old Debbie Reynolds in her first speaking film role. She already had the energy and wit she was later known for.
I also love seeing former child actress Marcia Mae Jones as a lovely adult. You may know her as the snobby rich girl in “The Little Princess” (1939) who Shirley Temple dumps ashes on.
Actor James Barton was also a former vaudeville star. At the end he performs a comedic ice skating routine-but not wearing skates. One has to wonder if that was an old routine from his days on stage.
“Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” is pleasant. I wouldn’t say avoid it, but I also wouldn’t say to go out of your way to watch it.

Check out the Comet Over Hollywood Facebook page, follow on Twitter at @HollywoodComet or e-mail at cometoverhollywood@gmail.com