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:
“Belle of the Yukon” (1944)– Musical #471
William A. Seiter
Randolph Scott, Gypsy Rose Lee, Dinah Shore, Charles Winneger, William Marshall, Bob Burns, Guinn ‘Big Boy’ Williams, Florence Bates
Set during the Canadian Gold Rush, John Calhoun (Scott) is a saloon owner but has a past as a con artist. His old girlfriend Belle De Valle (Lee) comes into town to perform at his saloon and hopes that Calhoun plans to stay honest. The saloon manager Pop Candless (Winneger) has a pretty daughter, Lettie (Shore), who is in love with piano player Steve Attenbury (Marshall). But Pop is concerned about Steve’s past.
-Gypsy Rose Lee was pregnant during the filming of this movie with Otto Preminger’s child, Erik Lee Preminger (Kirkland–who she was going through a divorce with at the time), according to Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee By Noralee Frankel. Erik said in the book that Lee had an affair with Preminger for the sole purpose of conceiving a child (him). When she was three months pregnant, she made excuses why she couldn’t take publicity stills and kept her pregnancy quiet so she wouldn’t have bad publicity that would ruin her film career, according to Frankel’s book.
-Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song for “Sleigh Ride in July” by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke.
-Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture by Arthur Lange.
-Gypsy Rose Lee in the film.
-“Like Someone in Love” performed by Dinah Shore
-“Sleigh Ride in July” performed by Dinah Shore
This movie is plain nonsense but a ton of fun.
What’s most appealing to me about “Belle of the Yukon” (1944) is the cast. Have you ever found a more random but delightful group of actors thrown together? Dinah Shore, Gypsy Rose Lee and Randolph Scott couldn’t be more different but they make it work. And you even get to watch the three in Technicolor.
Scott is comfortable in the film, because by this time, he was primarily in westerns. Dinah Shore sings a few ballads and looks cute in the period gowns and her long wig.
But obviously the real sensation is seeing the famed burlesque queen on screen, Gypsy Rose Lee. This is one of 13 film credits she made between 1937 and 1969.
And then there is Charles Winninger, who you never can go wrong with as the bumbling but sweet father.
The plot is goofy, the songs are just okay but you must catch “Belle of the Yukon” for a slice of simple, happy entertainment.