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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Musical Monday: Interrupted Melody (1955)

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:
Interrupted Melody (1955)– Musical #343

Studio:
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Director:
Curtis Bernhardt

Starring:
Eleanor Parker, Glenn Ford, Roger Moore, Cecil Kellaway, Ann Codee

Plot:
Biographical film on Australian opera singer Marjorie Lawrence, whose rising fame comes to a halt when she becamesf ill with polio. Paralyzed from the waist down, Marjorie isn’t sure if she will ever be able to perform or have the will to.

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Musical Monday: Stars and Stripes Forever (1952)

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:
Stars & Stripes Forever (1952)– Musical #466

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Henry Koster

Starring:
Clifton Webb, Robert Wagner, Debra Paget, Ruth Hussey, Finlay Currie, Roy Roberts, George Chakiris (uncredited)
Narrator: Max Showalter

Plot:
Biographical film on composer and conductor John Philip Sousa (Webb), known primarily for American military and patriotic marches.

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Musical Monday: The Perils of Pauline (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:
The Perils Of Pauline (1947) – Musical #127

Studio:
Paramount Pictures

Director:
George Marshall

Starring:
Betty Hutton, John Lund, Billy De Wolfe, William Demarest, Constance Collier, Frank Faylen

Plot:
Biographical film about actress Pearl White, who rose to fame during the silent film era in serial where she is constantly in danger.

Trivia:
-The height of the real Pearl White’s career was from 1910 to 1924. She died at age 49 in 1938 in France.
-Actors who performed in real Peril’s of Pauline films were featured in this movie such as; Paul Panzer who was in The Perils of Pauline (1914); Creighton Hale who was in The Exploits of Elaine (1914); William Farnum who played in Riders of the Purple Sage (1918).
-Edith Head designed the costumes for the films. Head copied costumes for Pearl White’s films for historical accuracy, according to Edith Head: The Fifty-Year Career of Hollywood’s Greatest Costume Designer by Jay Jorgensen
-Louis J. Gasnier, who directed The Perils of Pauline (1914), was a technical advisor on this film.

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Musical Monday-Academy Award Winners Edition: With a Song in My Heart: The Jane Froman Story (1952)

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.

Each of our February Musical Mondays will be Academy Award winning films, taking part in the 31 Days of Oscar event

With-a-Song-in-My-Heart-PosterThis week’s musical:
With a Song in My Heart – The Jane Froman Story” (1952)– Musical #534

Studio:
20th Century Fox

Director:
Walter Lang

Starring:
Susan Hayward, Rory Calhoun, David Wayne, Thelma Ritter, Robert Wagner, Una Merkel, Max Showalter, Lyle Talbot

Plot:
Biographical film of singer Jane Froman (Hayward). The film chronicles Froman’s rising star as a popular singer in the 1930s and 1940s through a life changing event: a 1943 plane crash during a USO tour. The film looks at how Froman overcame lifelong disability to continue her career and also inspire the soldiers overseas during World War II.

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Musical Monday: The Fabulous Dorseys (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:
“The Fabulous Dorseys” –Musical #314

fabulous dorsesys

Studio:
United Artists

Director:
Alfred E. Green

Starring:
As themselves: Tommy Dorsey, Jimmy Dorsey
Also starring: Janet Blair, William Lundigan, Sara Allgood, Arthur Shields, Buz Buckley, Bobby Warde
Cameo appearances: Paul Whiteman, Charlie Barnet, Henry Busse, Bob Eberly, Helen O’Connell and Art Tatum.

Plot:
Starting in their youth in 1916, the film is a fictionalized biopic of bandleader brothers Jimmy and Tommy Dorsey who reached the height of their fame in the 1940s. The film depicts the brother’s differences and tumultuous relationship that lead to them splitting into their own separate bands.

Trivia:
-The film is based off of a Saturday Evening Post article called “The Battling Brothers Dorsey.”
-When the film was released in February 1947, their hometown in Pennsylvania designated the week “Dorsey Week.”
-The film failed critically and commercially and the brothers made no profit from the film, according to “Tommy Dorsey: Livin’ in a Great Big Way : a Biography” by Peter J. Levinson.

Tommy Dorsey playing the trombone and Jimmy Dorsey playing the saxophone.

Tommy Dorsey playing the trombone and Jimmy Dorsey playing the saxophone.

Highlights:
-Seeing the Dorsey brothers on screen together.

Notable Songs:
-Marie
-Tangerine
-Green Eyes performed by Bob Eberly and Helen O’Connell
-The Object of My Affection performed by Janet Blair
-Turquoise performed by Art Tatum

My Review:
This is one of the few biographical films I can think of that actually stars the people who it is about. While this film is mostly fictional, the fact that the film stars its subject matters is very interesting, and it’s notable to see the Dorsey brothers together on film.
Trombone playing Tommy Dorsey and saxophone playing Jimmy Dorsey were two of the top big band leaders of the 1930s and 1940s, though Tommy was probably more famous than his brother. Both brothers were featured as musicians in several films of the 1940s and 1950s, but Tommy popped up more often, particularly in MGM films such as “Ship Ahoy,” “DuBarry was a Lady” and “Thrill of Romance” and the Goldwyn film “A Song is Born” with Danny Kaye.
The film shows the Dorsey brothers growing up in humble upbringings and their father encouraging their musicianship, it seems that much is at least true. The film also shows the two brothers performing together in a band known as “the Dorsey Brothers” but frequently fighting, that much is also true.
The Dorsey brothers were extremely competitive, and though Tommy was more successful, he was jealous of his brother, according to the book “Tommy Dorsey: Livin’ in a Great Big Way : a Biography” by Peter J. Levinson.
The brothers formed their band in 1930 and split in 1935. Before their split, they tried to stay together by one brother directing the band for the first half of the performance and then switching, according to Levinson’s book. The two eventually formed again in 1953 to perform together, but both died only a few years later: Tommy in 1956 at age 51 and Jimmy in 1957 at age 53. Their mother (who is played by Sara Algood in the film), outlived her two musician sons, passing away in 1968 at the age of 93.
As actors, Tommy is much more natural and human on screen while Jimmy Dorsey seems a bit more like a 1930s Warner Brothers character actor.
The film almost concentrates too much on the two brothers fighting, which gets tedious. After the first two or three fights in the film, I think the audience gets the idea that they didn’t get along.
Janet Blair is in the film as a childhood friend who performed as their girl singer in the film and falls in love with a piano player. I’m sure that much is fictional and was added into the film so there was a romance somewhere in the plot line.
While the actual plotline is questionable, this film gives a brief glimpse into the lives of two brothers who had a longstanding feud and also gives you the opportunity to hear excellent music and musical cameos of some of the most popular performers of that time.

Publicity photo of Jimmy Dorsey, Janet Blair and Tommy Dorsey for "The Fabulous Dorseys" (1947).

Publicity photo of Jimmy Dorsey, Janet Blair and Tommy Dorsey for “The Fabulous Dorseys” (1947).

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Musical Monday: I’ll See You in My Dreams (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.

ill see you in my dreamsThis week’s musical:
I’ll See You in My Dreams” (1951)–Musical #180

Studio:
Warner Brothers

Director:
Michael Curtiz

Starring:
Doris Day, Danny Thomas, Frank Lovejoy, Patrice Wymore, James Gleason, Mary Wickes, Jim Backus, Hans Conreid (uncredited)

Plot:
A biographical film about lyricist Gus Khan (Thomas) who wrote several popular songs such as “It Had To Be You,” “Pretty Baby,” “San Francisco,” “The Carioca” and “Tootise” just to name a few. The film Khan as he meets his composing partner Grace (Day) who he eventually marries.
Grace is a song plugger and Gus wanted her help publishing songs. She gave him advice to write a love song:
“Do you know why you write a popular song? Boys and girls don’t know how to say I love you, so you help them with 32 bars of music.”
The film shows the songwriter’s ups and downs in his career from getting started and having his songs in the Ziegfeld Follies to losing everything in the 1929 stock market crash and moving to Hollywood and rebuilding his career. The whole way, his wife is there helping him make the next move in his career. The film starts in 1908 and ends in the 1930s.

Gus (Thomas) missed the birth of his child because he was writing "It Had to Be You." Day wrote this scene made her emotional because of her life experiences.

Gus (Thomas) missed the birth of his child because he was writing “It Had to Be You.” Day wrote this scene made her emotional because of her life experiences.

Trivia:
-When Danny Thomas sings to Doris Day at her maternity bedside in the film, Day got very emotional thinking about how her first husband, Al Jordan was not present when her son Terry was born, she wrote in her autobiography, Doris Day: Her Own Story.
“In the way Danny played the scene, there was a sense of his remorse in having not been with me when the baby came (in the movie. His character was writing a song and lost track of time.),” she wrote. “When Danny started his song, I couldn’t help but cry, for what came to mind was the birth of my own baby, how Al Jorden had not been with me, and how alone and unfulfilled I felt.”

-Grace Kahn, Gus’s wife, was the technical adverser for the film, according to TThe Casablanca Man: The Cinema of Michael Curtiz by James C Robertson.

-Gordon MacRea was director Michael Curtiz’s first choice to play Gus Kahn, according to Robertson’s book.

The real Gus Kahn (left) with composer Arthur Johnson in 1935 at MGM.

The real Gus Kahn (left) with composer Arthur Johnson in 1935 at MGM.

-Grace LeBoy Kahn, who Doris Day portrayed, was still alive when the film was made. Gus Kahn, played by Danny Thomas, died in 1941. The two were married in 1916 until his death. Grace died in 1983.

-“I’ll See You in My Dreams” was Warner Brother’s second top grossing film for 1952 and was Curtiz’s last financial success for the studio, according to Robertson’s book.

-The album soundtrack from this film reached number one on the Billboard charts.

 

 

Notable Songs:
-“Gee, I Wish That I Had a Girl” sung by Doris Day
-“My Buddy” sung by Doris Day
-“Pretty Baby” sung by Danny Thomas
-“She’s Nobody’s Sweetheart Now” sung by Doris Day
-“The One I Love (Belongs to Somebody Else) sung by Doris Day
-“It Had to Be You” sung by Danny Thomas
-“Makin’ Whoopee” sung by Doris Day and Danny Thomas
-“Ain’t We Got Fun” played on a record but sung as a duet by Day and Thomas on the album

Review:

The record my Mom and I nearly wore out.

The record my Mom and I nearly wore out.

I knew all the songs before I saw this movie.
When Mom was in middle school, her father (my grandfather) had a 78 record of the “I’ll See You in My Dreams” soundtrack. He was going to throw it away, so she asked to keep when she saw Doris Day on the album cover. When I began getting interested in Doris Day when I was 13, my mom pulled out the record and I listened to it constantly.
When I first saw this movie back in 2005, Mom and I both knew all the words to the songs Kahn made popular because of that 78 but neither of us had ever seen the movie before.
When Mom and I rewatched this movie on Sunday, we both softly sang along to all of his hit tunes.
Clearly this movie has a special place in my heart.
Sentimentality aside, I love the cast and the music. Mary Wickes is always hilarious and Day and Thomas are wonderful.
Though it is questionable about how accurate biographical films are, this one is still a lot of fun with an excellent score to accompany a fairly touching story.

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