Musical Monday: Grounds for Marriage (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.

Grounds_for_Marriage_posterThis week’s musical:
“Grounds for Marriage” –Musical #371

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Robert Z. Leonard

Starring:
Van Johnson, Kathryn Grayson, Paula Raymond, Barry Sullivan, Reginald Anderson, Lewis Stone, Richard Anderson, Theresa Harris

Plot:
When Ina Massine (Grayson) returns to New York from Europe, she tries to win back her husband Lincoln “Linc” Bartlett (Johnson) after being divorced for three years. Linc is now engaged to Agnes Young (Raymond). On the day of her New York stage comeback singing “La Boheme,” Ina has a sore throat and then suddenly looses her voice. Doctors determine that the loss of voice is psychological from the shock of Linc’s engagement. Linc then tries to throw Ina into a new romance and appoints his brother Chris (Sullivan) to do the task.

Trivia:
-The movie originally was supposed to star Robert Walker and June Allyson. After Allyson was no longer in the film, it was going to star Walker and Kathryn Grayson, according to a Hedda Hopper brief from July 28, 1949. Van Johnson replaced Walker.
-“That’s the only picture I really loved making,” Grayson said in a Jan. 7, 1951 interview with Hedda Hopper. “I’ve been in films since 1940, but I’ll confess that I have never been particularly interested in a film career until recently.”
-During the “Carmen” dream sequence, Van Johnson is dubbed by Gilbert Russell for the character Don Jose and Stephen Kemalyan for the character Escamillo.

Van Johnson and Kathryn Grayson dressed for the "Carmen" dream sequence in "Grounds for Marriage."

Van Johnson and Kathryn Grayson dressed for the “Carmen” dream sequence in “Grounds for Marriage.”

Notable Songs:
– “Carmen” performed by Kathryn Grayson and Van Johnson
-“La Boheme” performed by Kathryn Grayson
– “Tiger Rag” played by the Firehouse Five Plus Two

Highlights:
-Van Johnson playing the bird sound in the doctor’s symphony
-The “Carmen” dream sequence, which acts out the film’s predicament. Johnson is hilariously dubbed in an operatic voice. Johnson said in a Feb. 13, 1951 article in the Times Daily that he had never seen the opera.
-Van Johnson gives a speech on the common cold to the women’s club and says it’s mainly psychological or due to stress. Air is blowing on the back of Johnson’s neck and by the end of the speech, he has developed a bad cold.

My Review:
This is not your usual Kathryn Grayson musical, chock full with operatic performances in Technicolor. In fact, Grayson probably has four or five numbers because most of the movie she can’t speak or sing due to loss of voice.
Van Johnson, as always, is also a lot of fun; excelling in comedic moments and is likable (but I’m biased because he was my first film love).
I always love to see Paula Raymond in films, and I hated that she didn’t have more screen time in “Grounds for Marriage.” (Spoiler) I also would have almost preferred for Raymond to end up with Van Johnson.
It certainly isn’t the best film Grayson or Johnson made, but it is a fun and cute movie. Some of the gags can be tiring, but “Grounds for Marriage” is a nice piece of escapism.

Kathryn Grayson, Van Johnson, Paula Raymond and Barry Sullivan in a publicity photo for "Grounds for Marriage."

Kathryn Grayson, Van Johnson, Paula Raymond and Barry Sullivan in a publicity photo for “Grounds for Marriage.”

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Musical Monday: “Two Sisters from Boston” (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.

two sistersThis week’s musical:
Two Sisters From Boston” –Musical #85

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Henry Koster

Starring:
June Allyson, Kathryn Grayson, Jimmy Durante, Peter Lawford, Lauritz Melchoir, Ben Blue, Barbara Billingsley (uncredited)

Plot:
Abigail (Grayson) writes to her sister Martha (Allyson) and her other stuffy relatives in Boston that she is a successful opera singer in New York. In reality, she is working in a burlesque show.

Trivia:

-After June Allyson and Peter Lawford starred in this film, MGM publicity was tried to play them up as a couple. This was a common practice and the same attempt was made with her co-star Van Johnson. Allyson wrote in her autobiography that though she and Lawford had a good time together, it was never anything serious. The two later starred in “Little Women” (1949) together.
-Lauritz Melchoir’s second film, his first being “The Thrill of Romance” (1945). Born in Denmark, Melchoir was a Wagnerian tenor and debuted in 1924 in London. He debuted with the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 1926.  Melchoir made five Hollywood films from 1944 to 1953. In the 1940s, MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer signed singers and musicians like Melchoir and pianist Jose Iturbi to give the studio class and culture.
-Sammy Fain and Ralph Freed (brother of Arthur Freed) wrote the songs “Autumn Twilight,” “Indian Holiday,” “Lanterns in the Sky,” “More Than Ever” and “Seattle.”

Notable Songs:
-After the Show sung by June Allyson
-When Romance Passes by sung by Kathryn Grayson
-Performances by Lauritz Melchoir
-Down by the Ocean sung by Kathryn Grayson and Jimmy Durante

Highlights: 
-When proper June Allyson sings takes Kathryn Grayson’s place at the burlesque show, having to undress before an audience.
-Kathryn Grayson unconventionally gets in an opera in the chorus. Lauritz Melchoir is the lead. Much to his chagrin, Grayson keeps singing notes to get attention.

My Review:
This is a cute movie, but I don’t feel it exhibits the full appeal of June Allyson and Kathryn Grayson. June Allyson’s character is a simpering proper girl, ashamed of her sister’s profession in New York.
Kathryn Grayson’s character is a bit more likable but is still a bit uppity (the roles she usually seems to be typecast in).
When I originally saw this film 12 years ago, I was watching it for June Allyson, and I was a bit disappointed in her character then.
Jimmy Durante is the real treat in this film. It’s also interesting to see Metropolitan Opera star Lauritz Melchoir in films, giving a frame of reference of who was famous in the operatic world during this time.
However…despite any character flaws…this is still a fun and enjoyable movie. There are several funny parts and at the end of the day, the movie is down right cute.

Lauritz Melchoir, Kathryn Grayson, Jimmy Durante and June Allyson in "Two Sisters From Boston."

Lauritz Melchoir, Kathryn Grayson, Jimmy Durante and June Allyson in “Two Sisters From Boston.”

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

 

Musical Monday: Seven Sweethearts (1942)

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:
Seven Sweethearts” (1942) –Musical #62

seven sweethearts

Studio:
MGM

Director:
Frank Borzage

Starring:
Kathryn Grayson, Van Heflin, Marsha Hunt, S.Z. Sakall, Cecilia Parker, Donald Meek, Louise Beavers

Plot:
News reporter Henry Taggart (Heflin) goes to Little Delft, Michigan to cover the Tulip Festival. While there, he stays at the quaint House of the Seven Tulips inn, run by Mr. Van Maaster (Sakall). Maaster’s seven daughters-all who have boy names-help run the inn. Spoiled Regina (Hunt) tries to woo Henry but he falls for Billie (Grayson). The only problem is old-fashioned Mr. Maaster won’t let his younger daughters marry before Regina marries.

Trivia:
-This film is a family affair: Kathryn Grayson’s brother Michael Butler and sister Frances Raeburn are in the film. Grayson had a larger career than her siblings.
-Ann Rutherford was originally supposed to be in the film but she had measles. She was replaced by Peggy Moran.
-A film adaptation of a Hungarian play called “Seven Sisters.” The film appeared on Broadway in 1911.
-Producer Joe Pasternak’s first film at MGM.
-Remake of the 1915 film “The Seven Sisters”

Highlights:
-Van Heflin attempting to dance a traditional dance during the Tulip Festival.

Van Heflin and Kathryn Grayson in "Seven Sweethearts"

Van Heflin and Kathryn Grayson in “Seven Sweethearts”

Notable Songs:
There aren’t any songs that really stand out or leave you humming after the movie. However, you have the opportunity to hear Grayson since several songs such as “Tulip Time” and Mozart’s “Cradle Song.”

My Review:
This song is fun and adorable. Though she’s a brat, Marsha Hunt looks adorable, and I swoon every time Van Heflin smiles. This is only Kathryn Grayson’s fourth film, so you get to see her as she is still blossoming into stardom MGM. “Seven Sweethearts” isn’t one of MGM’s huge, glittering musicals, and usually goes under the radar. However, it’s adorable and a lot of fun.

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Star Collector

 

Anita Page in the 1920’s. At one point she had more fan mail than Greta Garbo.

Not only am I old-fashioned in my movie tastes, but I am also pretty passe as a movie fan.

I write fan mail.

You may be thinking, “Who does that anymore?” A surprising amount do continue to write to stars like Debbie Reynolds, Tony Curtis and Elizabeth Taylor. No one writes the stars of today, though, like Angelina Jolie, Orlando Bloom or Jennifer Aniston. Why is this? Because they won’t answer…that is if you can even find an address to write to.

I get my fan mail addresses from an autograph database called StarTiger.com. On the website you can search virtually any movie star, singer or sports player. Each star has their own profile page. On this page there is a list of addresses that you can contact them.

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