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:
“My Wild Irish Rose” –Musical #309
Dennis Morgan, Arlene Dahl, Andrea King, Alan Hale, George Tobias, George O’Brien, Sara Allgood, Ben Blue, William Frawley
Fictional, biographical film on Irish singer Chauncey Olcott (Morgan); chronicling his rise to fame and connections with performer Lillian Russell (King) and William Scanlan (Frawley). As he climbs the ladder to fame, Olcott meets and falls in love with Rose Donovan (Dahl), who’s father (Hale) does not want her to be involved with Olcott.
-Chauncey Olcott was an performer, songwriter and actor who’s career spanned from 1894 until 1920. Born in New York, Olcott’s family was of Irish decent, so most of his songs had Irish themes to them. He was born in 1858 and died in 1932. According to critic Dorothy Parker, Lillian Russell and Olcott were friends and she helped his career.
-Alexis Smith was considered for the role of Lillian Russell, which went to Andrea King. Virginia Bruce was also set for the role, according to “The Women of Warner Brothers” by Daniel Bubbeo.
-Andrea King was dubbed in her role as Lillian Russell, according to Bubbeo’s book.
-“My costumes were the most beautiful I had ever seen and my jewelry was real. I had two armed guards with me at all times,” King said in Bubbeo’s book.
-Arlene Dahl’s first credited role.
-Ray Heindorf and Max Steiner were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Scoring of a Musical Picture.
-The film was based from a 1939 story written by Olcott’s widow, Rita, called “Song in His Heart,” according to Bubbeo’s book.
-One of Warner Brother’s top films of 1948.
-Any time Dennis Morgan sings in any film is a highlight.
-Hush-a-Bye, Wee Rose of Killarney performed by Dennis Morgan
-My Wild Irish Rose performed by Dennis Morgan
-When Irish Eyes Are Smiling performed by Dennis Morgan
-Let Me Dream Some More performed by Dennis Morgan and Andrea King
-Mother Machree performed by Dennis Morgan
As Comet Over Hollywood has discussed countless times before, many Hollywood biographical films, particularly those of the musical nature, are embellished and provide very little actual fact.
“My Wild Irish Rose” is no exception. The real Chauncey Olcott may look more like William Frawley than Dennis Morgan.
However, it’s a fun, colorful and entertaining film filled with notable Irish songs; all performed in Dennis Morgan’s velvety voice. While Morgan sings, George O’Brien and Ben Blue bring some comedy to the film.
Other familiar and likable Warner Brothers faces appear in this lush, Technicolor film including Alan Hale, Andrea King and George Tobias.
What I like about “My Wild Irish Rose,” is that Dennis Morgan truly gets center stage without having to share screen time, songs and leading ladies with Jack Carson. This seems to be a rare musical gem in Morgan’s career where he is the only singing lead, so we hear multiple Irish classic tunes performed by Mr. Morgan.
If you are a Dennis Morgan fan, love Irish music or simply want a nice film for St. Patrick’s Day, check out “My Wild Irish Rose.”