Rainbow on the River (1936) Poster

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stealing the heavenly blues...
ptb-83 August 2004
This gorgeous famiy film was a smash success in Australia and I assume everywhere else in first release. My late mother Patricia keenly remembered seeing it at out local 1500 seat Marina Theatre in Rosebery at a session so packed she had to sit on the steps upstairs. I had the 78rpm record for years (still have, actually) and it is astonishing what a great voice Bobby Breen had. His series of Musicals really should be re packaged and dvd released as they are excellent, and I am astonished to find came from Principal Pictures (Chandu, anyone?) who I thought had folded into Republic in 1935. This film like all the others was released by RKO on a world wide plan so I guess all were a kid series to their Astaire Rogers musical series concurrent.
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See Rainbow on the River and rediscover Bobby Breen
tavm22 March 2007
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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A wonderful film and cast
signnstamp2 September 2003
This is my favorite Bobby Breen film! The music is wonderful and Bobby's voice is incredible for a boy of 9. The story tugs at your heart but leaves you feeling good inside and humming it's tunes at the end! And, Bobby's backed by a wonderful cast including Louise Beavers, May Robson, Henry O'Neill, Charles Butterworth, Stymie (Our Gang) Beard, and Alan Mowbray. But it's the pure voice and enthusiastic performance of Bobby Breen that makes this movie a classic that everyone should see. This is the kind of film we need today. A film made to entertain the entire family and one that reaches it's goal!
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It was the BEST movie I've seen in a long time.
Italianromeo25 May 2004
I think they should bring back movies like this again.

I loved it. It's a GREAT!!!!!!!!! movie for kids today to start watching . It will leave you feeling up and happy.

Not like some of the movies today.

WE NEED MORE OF THESE MOVIES!!! I loved this movie! :-)

The movies years ago made you feel happy. The musicals were better than the trash they put out today. I hope the movie CO. Start looking into these musicals again.
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Good musical and plot for 1930s child singer
SimonJack18 January 2016
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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Sappy musical soap opera with a top-notch supporting cast.
mark.waltz30 December 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Southern war orphan Bobby Breen has been raised by his late parent's former slave (Louise Beavers) ever since the end of the Civil War. A local priest finds out that Breen's paternal grandmother (May Robson) lives in New York City and sends Breen to live with the irascible woman and her greedy nephew (Alan Mowbray) and his wife and daughter. What would later be more dramatic in a variety of plays by Tennessee Williams and novels by Horton Foote ends up as a saccharine film that in lesser hands could cause cancer. Beavers shines as the surrogate mother so loving it becomes tear-inducing to watch her heart break as Breen is taken away from her. Like she did in the original "Imitation of Life", Beavers gives a performance so filled with grace and dignity that you can't help but adore her. Robson's crankiness is obviously a facade to save off her greedy relatives, and she adds a lot of humour into what could have been a one dimensional part. Charles Butterworth is amusing as Robson's butler, while Mowbray, Betina Hume and Marilyn Knowlden are appropriately cold-hearted.

Breen sings a variety of familiar tunes including a beautiful "Ave Maria" and a rousing "Camp town Races". He is less cloying here than he was in later films. Fortunately, with this cast and some nice songs, it makes the stereotypical portrayal of the supposedly happy black characters difficult to digest. Beavers manages to rise above her character's observation about the well-to-do Southerners being better than any rich Northerner, as shown in a scene at the beginning where veteran character actor Clarence Wilson buys chicken from her pal.

Re-Titled prints misspell May Robson's name. One sad note regarding Beaver's billing is her name is listed seventh underneath all of the white actors. She definitely deserved at least third. And yes, that is "The Little Rascal's" Stymie as Breen's pal who is named after a variety of American heroes like Washington and Lincoln.
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