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:
“Do You Love Me” –Musical #511
Twentieth Century Fox
Maureen O’Hara, Dick Hyams, Harry James, Reginard Gardiner, Richard Gaines, Lex Barker (uncredited)
Cameo: Betty Grable appears uncredited as James’ fan in a taxi cab.
Conservative Katherine Hilliard (O’Hara) is dean of a stuffy music school, following in her father’s footsteps, and is allergic to popular music. She is engaged to her similarly stuffy colleague Ralph (Gaines). Katherine takes a trip to New York to plan with her composer colleague Herbert Benham (Gardiner) about the upcoming spring music festival. On her way to New York, Katherine meets trumpet player Barry Clayton (James) who insults her by saying she is too stuffy to appreciate popular music. After relaying this to Herbert, he encourages her to loosen up and have fun. Katherine takes her advice, catching the attention of Barry and crooner Jimmy Hale (Haymes).
-Maureen O’Hara called this “The worst picture I ever made,” in her autobiography “Tis Herself.”
-Produced by George Jessel
-Betty Grable, who was married to Harry James at the time, makes a cameo as a fan of his.
-Fashion show shopping montage of outfits.
-Betty Grable’s cameo at the end of the film.
-“St. Louis Blues” performed by Harry James and his band
-“Do You Love Me” performed by Dick Haymes
-“Moonlight Propoganda” performed by Dick Haymes
Though I know Maureen O’Hara said this was the worst film of her career, but I had a great time watching this film.
The plot isn’t substantial and fairly predictable. It is the usual but fun 1930s or 1940s plot of a conservative teacher coming from a stuffy college and eventually letting her hair down and having fun. It may not be O’Hara’s best performance, but it is fun and has some great music if you like big band.
For me the two biggest highlights:
1. Seeing O’Hara and her glorious film wardrobe in Technicolor. I’m a sucker for film fashion and movie makerovers and I enjoyed seeing her transformation from teacher to glamour girl. This film also features a highlight for any lover of vintage clothing: a scene where the main actress goes shopping at an upscale store and multiple gowns are modeled for her.
2. Hearing bandleader and trumpeter Harry James perform. It’s a highlight to see big band leaders of the time in classic films. It gives you a good feel of what was popular and music at that time, and you also get to see these performers talking and in person rather than just hearing them on a recording.
The biggest highlight was a cameo by Betty Grable at the end as a fan of Harry James. Betty Grable was one of Fox’s top stars and she and James were married at the time. It was a witty and adorable comedic moment. The brief scene is similar to any joke in a contemporary film or TV show that tied in a pop culture or current event reference.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention Reginald Gardiner’s role in this as O’Hara’s colleague and friend. Gardiner is the one who encourages O’Hara’s character to literally let down her hair and have fun for once. Whether he is playing a snob, a cad or the humorous best friend, Gardiner’s characters are always a delight.
“Do You Love Me?” was down right fun with some geniune laugh out loud moments. If you have the opportunity to see this film and are looking for a colorful way to brighten your day, I encourage you to do so.
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