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Sunny (1941)

Passed  -  Musical  -  30 May 1941 (USA)
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The beautiful Anna Neagle stars as a circus performer who falls in love with a rich car dealer's son, against her family's wishes. Features some spirited dance numbers with Ray Bolger.



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Title: Sunny (1941)

Sunny (1941) on IMDb 5.5/10

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. See more awards »


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Director: Herbert Wilcox
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Credited cast:
Anna Neagle ...
Sunny O'Sullivan
Bunny Billings
John Carroll ...
Larry Warren
Henry Bates
Grace Hartman ...
Juliet Runnymede
Paul Hartman ...
Frieda Inescort ...
Elizabeth Warren
Helen Westley ...
Aunt Barbara
Benny Rubin ...
Maj. Montgomery Sloan
Muggins Davies ...
Richard Lane ...
Martha Tilton ...
Torben Meyer ...
Jean (head waiter)
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Ernestine Clark ...


The beautiful Anna Neagle stars as a circus performer who falls in love with a rich car dealer's son, against her family's wishes. Features some spirited dance numbers with Ray Bolger.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

based on play




Passed | See all certifications »




Release Date:

30 May 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Mardi gras  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Sunny opened at the New Amsterdam Theatre (New York City) on September 22, 1925 and ran for 517 performances. See more »


Version of Sunny (1930) See more »


Written by Maurice Ravel
Danced as 'The Mohache' by Grace Hartman and Paul Hartman
See more »

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User Reviews

Ah, the memories...Anna Neagle and, especially, Paul and Grace Hartman
19 June 2008 | by (San Antonio, Texas) – See all my reviews

Anna Neagle, one of Britain's greatest stage and screen stars, who enjoyed huge success from the early Thirties on, had the misfortune to come to America for RKO in 1939. She had the wisdom to make the visit brief. She and her producer-director husband, Herbert Wilcox, returned home in 1941. Back in Britain she proceeded to have even greater success in film after film, play after play. Sunny, a generally tedious musical she made in Hollywood in 1941, gives some clues as to just how good she was. Neagle was a first-rate dancer who probably, like Rita Hayworth, could have held her own with Fred Astaire. As a singer, she was completely at ease. As an actress, she could handle comedy or drama with equal aplomb. She had a personality that came across as natural and even humorous. Like so many huge stars of the Thirties and Forties, she probably would be considered dated now, especially by those American viewers whose grandparents never really made a connection with her. Considering the number of gracious films she made after WWII, all huge hits with titles like Spring in Park Lane, Maytime in Mayfair and The Courtneys of Curzon Street (and all co-starring Michael Wilding, surely one of the most bloodless of leading men), I enjoyed seeing her do her stuff here, even though most of Sunny is a slow slog.

She plays Sunny O'Sullivan, the star of a small, upscale circus run by Bunny Billings (Ray Bolger). In New Orleans during Mardi Gras she meets by accident Larry Warren (John Carroll), handsome scion of the wealthy Warrens of Waverly Hall. They fall in love, but Sunny has to deal with the conflicts between his snooty family and her down-to-earth circus pals (which includes a trained seal). A crisis erupts just before her wedding, she flees, but then all is made well. Yawn.

Hanging on this sagging clothesline of a plot, which was adapted from the Oscar Hammerstein II, Otto Harbach and Jerome Kern stage musical, are the songs and the presentations of the songs. "Who" is a standard and "Sunny" is well known by the aging. There are two or three others that aren't much to speak of, so we find ourselves listening to a variety of versions of "Who" and "Sunny." Not bad, but the movie gives them to us uneasily...romantic ballad, swing, tap routine for Bolger and, most unnerving, operetta duet. Nothing quite jells.

One of the main failings of Sunny is the ponderous screenplay. It's not clever, it's seldom amusing, it goes on too long, and it gives us way too much of Edward Everett Horton as the Warren family lawyer. The other major failing is the lack of spark between Neagle and John Carroll. He doesn't give her much to make fire with. Carroll, with a plump chin, a Clark Gable mustache and a lock of oiled hair artfully curled down over his forehead, may be handsome, but he has all the uncommitted charm of an extra for bridge. Watching him warble a duet with Neagle is squirmingly artificial. Give him credit, though. He looks as if he's not embarrassed for a moment.

Sunny does have one big plus. It gives us a chance to see Paul and Grace Hartman do a couple of their fine dance routines. They made it big in vaudeville and on Broadway in revues and musicals. They never did well in movies. They spoofed all sorts of dances in their comedy routines. She was the smart one; he, the dim one. They made a few appearances in the early Fifties on the Ed Sullivan Show. Somewhere, I suppose, the memory of their act remains on kinescope. Grace Hartman died of cancer in 1955. Paul Hartman soldiered on in bit parts and a few running appearances in Mayberry RFD and the Andy Griffith Show. He died in 1973. We need to remember unique artists like the Hartmans.

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