Young Phillip Ainsworth, (Bobby Breen), an orphan of the US Civil War, has been lovingly raised by Toinette, (Louise Beavers) a former slave. Toinette has big plans for the boy. She has saved her money to send him to a private school. But when the local priest, Father Josef, (Henry O'Neill) finds Phillip's family living in New York, the boy is sent north to live with people who refuse to accept him as their own. His only friend is the butler, Barrett, (Charles Butterworth). But his curmodgeon of a grandmother, (May Robson) is finally broken down by the boy's charm and good manners, and all ends happily. Along the way Breen has ample opportunity to show off his voice by singing several songs, including the title song three times. Written by
See Rainbow on the River and rediscover Bobby Breen
I found this obscure musical from the '30s under the "Louisiana" section in my local East Baton Rouge Parish Library under the title It Happened in New Orleans. What a wonderful discovery of a young juvenile singer named Bobby Breen from a time when most of America was enchanted by Shirley Temple! He plays a New Orleans boy raised by former slave Louise "Imitation of Life" Beavers after his parents died in the Civil War. Besides her, Breen also has Matthew "Stymie" Beard as a friend. Then he finds out about his Yankee relatives and moves to New York. Only the butler can relate to him there. Wonderful songs from the 19th century dominate the film with the then-new title song sung at least three times. Wonderful support from May Robson, Charles Butterworth, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson as a superstitious doctor, and the Hall Johnson Choir. Nice humorous touches throughout. Worthy of rediscovery for old-time movie fans.
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