Image via WikipediaWell folks, tonight we officially kick off the first of twelve days of Christmas films with On Moonlight Bay, starring Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. The rhymes in that sentence are irresistible.
Four words. I love this movie. This is a good movie. It is fun, it is clean (thank goodness for old films), and it is spectacularly cute. And I'll tell you why.
First, Doris Day's chemistry with the leading man is memorable. This was the third film Doris made with Gordon Macrae, and it was such a hit that Warner Bros. immediately started the wheels turning on its sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Day and MacRae made a great couple, not only for their stunning good looks, but also by the amazing quality of their voices. As we know, Doris Day was one of the greatest actresses to ever open her mouth on film; mixed with MacRae's majestic baritone, the sound is nearly too good to tolerate.
Second, the cast is an all-around A Team effort. Leon Ames (we'll see him again next week in Meet Me in St. Louis), Rosemary DeCamp, Billy Gray, Ellen Corboy, and the unforgettable Mary Wickes round out the cast of characters like a match made in heaven. Few child actors were as capable as Billy Gray, and the calibre of Ames, DeCamp, and Corboy was matched by few projects. Actually, given the build-up to production, it is a surprise to me that Warner Bros. would make such a cast investment in Moonlight Bay. I suspect that with gaining the rights to make these films out of the Penrod stories, the studio was interested in trying to replicate a little of the success Meet Me in St. Louis had enjoyed. If you are familiar with both movies, you will see the similarities between them.
Third, the story itself is sugary and frivolous, but it manages to work in sincere moments of joy, heartache, lesson-making, and sentiment. We see summer, fall, winter, and spring in a home where a girl grows from a tomboy to a feminine woman, while her family takes on changes of small and great significance (a new home, new neighbors, a world war) and remains remarkably the same.
Fourthly, this movie is not about Christmas, but it features some lovely Christmas moments. We get to hear two lovely Christmas songs: "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," and "Merry Christmas All." There are lights, and snow, and angel's wings, and all of the jolly things we associate with Christmas. And Doris Day is there throughout.
What more could you need?