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
This is one of the earliest movies that Canadian child singer Bobby Breen made during the last years of the Great Depression. The plot and setting for "Rainbow on the River" is very interesting, especially for that time. Breen's soprano to tenor voice in this film reminds one of the recordings of the great boys choirs. The songs in this film are superb, and the cast is excellent.
With his short-lived acting career, Breen later did the nightclub circuit. He made some guest appearances on TV and hosted a TV show. He eventually moved to Florida where he opened his own talent business.
Even among movie buffs, the name of Bobby Breen is hardly known today. He made only nine films in the late 1930s. But these films give a look at a young singer who, for a time, had a voice that could captivate audiences. And, his acting was quite good as well.
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