Thursday, June 17, 2010

Lullaby of Broadway

I know of no better way to start out on this adventure than with a Doris Day film, and this is one of her most delightful.  So let's get one thing straight right away: I am a Doris Day fan.  I love Doris Day.  She is my favorite.  My absolute favorite.  If you hang with me through my future posts, I guarantee that you will see this enthusiasm coming through on a regular basis.

For our honeymoon my husband and I traveled to Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, where Doris Day resides with her beloved pets.  We lodged in the Cypress Inn, co-owned by Doris and home to a good deal of memorabilia from her days in Hollywood.

It was a beautiful time in a beautiful place, and when you've grown up admiring Doris Day, there's no better place to be.

And if you're not familiar with America's Sweetheart, Lullaby of Broadway is a good place to jump in.

Made in 1951, Lullaby was a Warner Brothers Technicolor spectacular, and a beautiful one at that.  Starring Gene Nelson alongside Doris Day, with S.Z. Sakall, Billy De Wolfe, Gladys George, and Florence Bates, this film is like a ride on a cloud. It's just that smooth, fluffy, and relaxing.

The Plot:
Silly and oh so fun.  Melinda Howard (Day) is a small-time theatrical performer who has been living overseas.  She is returning to the States to see her mother, Jessica Howard (George), when she meets dancing star Tom Farnham (Nelson) on the boat.  Melinda believes that her mother is a successful Broadway star, the toast-of-the-town, like she was in the old days.  She is unaware that Jessica has fallen onto bad times, hit the bottle, and is now performing at third-rate joints in-between drinks.  This is because Jessica has falsified her correspondence to Melinda, using the address of the finest house in town as her mailing address  because she is in cahoots with the down-and-out acting pair Lefty and Gloria (De Wolfe and Triola) who work there as the butler and maid.  Melinda arrives at the home expecting to be welcomed with open arms by her mother.  Lefty and Gloria hide her in the servant quarters, where she takes up residence unbeknownst to the owners, Mr. and Mrs. Adolph Hubbell (Sakall and Bates).  When Melinda and Adolph collide late that night as Melinda explores the house, Mr. Hubbell is brought into Lefty's confidence and mixed up in the scheme of trying to hide from Melinda her mother's condition and hide Melinda from Mrs. Hubbell.

What follows is zany, if predictable, with Melinda breaking out into show business and landing the leading role in a musical opposite Tom Farnham, with whom she has fallen in love.  Mixed up in the action are allegations of an affair between Melinda and Mr. Hubbell, the comical antics of Lefty and Gloria, and a sweet reunion between Melinda and her mother.  

Two words: music and dancing.  Doris is dancing straight out of the gate, with a top hat and tails version of "Just One of Those Things."  From there the songs keep coming and don't stop 'till end credits:

  • "You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me"
  • "Somebody Loves Me"
  • "I Love the Way You Say Goodnight"
  • "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone"
  • "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town"
  • "Zing! Went the Strings of My Heart"
  • "You're Dependable"
  • "We'd Like to Go on a Trip"
  • and of course, "Lullaby of Broadway"
But the dancing is really what sets this film apart.  It is one of the few in which Doris got to exhibit her truly, especially fantastic dancing talent.  For a sample, try this clip of her twitching toes with the enormously skilled Gene Nelson.  The dancing is out of this world.  And those are some great voices, too!

Another huge plus is the supporting cast.  Sakall added a gloriously delightful kick to everything he appeared in, and his mannerisms will have you laughing as he seeks refuge from his battleax wife, the ever-reliable Florence Bates.  Billy De Wolfe also puts in another great performance as a scheming shirker and wins favor through his tender care of Jessica throughout her time of trouble.  Anne Triola is fun as Gloria as well.

"Such a great movie," my husband said.  He doesn't know he's being quoted, so I'll tell you what else he said.  "I haven't seen a Doris Day movie I didn't like. Or a Cuddles [Sakall] movie."  Check this one out and you'll quickly understand why.  



Anonymous said...

Absolutely delightful! I cannot wait to watch it again. Thank you so much for creating this blog :)

jillybean said...

Love this one too....completely agree with David...Cuddles always makes any movie even better. "Romance on the High Seas" is another Doris Day in this vein that I adore.

anialek36 said...

I love Doris Day, I love her songs and movies❤Doris is my goddess, an angel❤ Fantastic blog!!! Feel free to yourself:) Greetings from Polish:)

Priscilla said...

Thank you anialek36! Welcome to my blog. It is so nice to meet another Doris Day lover, from so far away! God bless.

nanekivan said...

You are so right about "Lullaby of Broadway". Doris Day is my absolute favorite to, and as hard as it is for me to choose a Doris Day favorite, this might be it. I love all the dancing she gets to do in this one, and I LOVE Gene Nelson as her love interest. Thanks for this blog - it's just great!

Patricia G said...

Thank you for creating this blog. I love Doris Day, her singing, dancing and acting. Lullaby of Broadway is a great movie, but Pillow Talk is my favorite.


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