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I have seen this movie over 20 times. Every time it moved in me the deepest feelings about family, friendship, solidarity, truth, happiness and the joy of music. The husband who is a musical composer and is in prison, has lost all hope about joining his family again. He directs the orchestra in prison which is playing his composition "alwasy in my heart" at the time his wife visits him. He tells her to go ahead and marry again. Next day he finds out he has been given an "indult" and is free. He decides to pass by his town just to see his children and then leave. His children did not know he was alive (his wife had said that to them attending his request) so they meet him as a stranger who likes music and plays "always in my heart" to an audience where his daughter is present together with a group of harmonica players. Things happened in that visit. Manuel
Walter Huston, Kay Francis and Gloria Warren star in "Always in My
Heart," a 1942 film featuring Sidney Blackmer, Frankie Thomas and Una
O'Connor. Francis plays "Mudge," a woman whose ex-husband (Huston) is
in prison. She is getting ready to marry again, this time to a wealthy
man, Philip (Blackmer). Her daughter Vicky (Warren) doesn't care for
him, but her son (Marty (Thomas) likes his money. Mudge goes to see her
former husband, a talented musician, in prison to tell him that if
there's any chance of a pardon, she'll wait for him; he lies and says
there's no chance, although he already has one (he was innocently
involved in a shady business deal; a fight broke out, and a man died).
He wants her to remarry and the kids to be taken care of. The children
have been told he's dead. When he's released, he goes into their home
town to get a look at the kids and ends up staying in "Fish Town," an
Italian community, where he works and plays his music. It's through
music that he bonds with Vicky, who wants to be a singer. Meanwhile, he
watches his son, who is dating a street smart woman who's a little
older than he is and becomes concerned.
This is a very sweet film with some enjoyable music and operatic singing by Warren. With the success of Deanna Durbin, the studios apparently all scrambled for their own version. Warren had a well-trained, small coloratura voice that had a very high sound to it (everything she sang sounded as if it started about an octave higher than anyone else's music), the kind of voice very popular back in the days of the French soprano, Lily Pons. She was dark and pretty with a certain appeal, but the voice didn't have the versatility of Durbin's, nor was she as charismatic. Huston, of course, does a beautiful job as her father. Francis looks fantastic and gives a lovely performance. Warner Brothers was just about to dump her. Una O'Connor is very funny as the housekeeper, and while some may have found her annoying, I thought Patti Hale, who played O'Connor's granddaughter, was adorable.
If you're a Kay Francis fan, a Walter Huston fan, or an opera fan, you should enjoy "Always in my Heart."
I watched this on cable TV, and was delighted with the characters and their bonds of love. The love and understanding of "Munch" for "Mac" made it an uplifting story of how love transcends the years and rough times. I thoroughly enjoyed the contrast of Borrah Minevitch and His Harmonica Rascals with the otherwise serious elements of the movie. It reminded me of the contrast between John Denver and Placido Domingo singing "Perhaps Love", two beautifully competent musicians of different genres and cultures coming together to make beautiful music! It made the movie interesting, and I enjoyed the humor and music of Borrah and those harmonicas! If I could find it, I'd purchase the DVD for myself and one for my mother, who also loved it!
Walter Huston and Kay Francis starred in this 1942 film.
Ms. Francis plays a middle class woman with 2 children, who supposedly is widowed. Wealthy Sidney Blackmer wishes to marry her.
It turns out that she is not widowed. She divorced her husband after he was sent to prison for killing a man. Both children have been told that their father is dead.
As Huston is about to be pardoned, Francis arrives at the prison to tell him that she is remarrying. Thinking only of her happiness and security for their children, Huston does not tell Francis of the pardon but instead encourages the marriage.
Huston, upon release, settles in a fishing area around San Francisco. Of course, he meets his children but says nothing.
Naturally, the children find out what they are and the film ends where he saves his son from a drunk and daughter, when she goes out in a storm in a boat.
There are some musical interludes in this as the daughter is training to be an opera singer. Huston does a little singing and there are several sequences where groups of fishermen turn to their harmonicas.
Despite the Warners fanfare and Warners leading lady Kay Francis, it has influences of other studios. There's the multi-ethnic-music-making a la MGM; the also Metro-like mixing of highbrow and lowbrow music; the attempt to launch Gloria Warren as the studio's answer to Universal's Deanna Durbin (she's not bad, but she's not Deanna); "funny" musicians led by Borah Minevitch, sort of like RKO's Kay Kyser, or Spike Jones; and a melodramatic premise that would embarrass anybody. The small-California-town ambiance, with everybody nice to everybody, and smiling mailmen and ice cream men and such, is so dated it seems to belong to another planet. The plot, with Kay Francis planning to marry rich but unlikable Sidney Blackmer, then finding out that her convict husband Walter Huston is still alive and paroled, is absolutely ridiculous. And yet, and yet. Huston, one of the three or four best actors American movies ever had, underplays everything so beautifully that you're hooked. Watch him watch his unsuspecting kids who don't know he's their dad, or singing the appealing title song in that high, heart-tugging voice of his to his daughter, I got teary. The director pitches the emotions too high and cuts too rapidly (at times it approaches MTV pacing), and the ethnic stereotypes are grating--lots of "ot'sa fine" Italians, and just guess which harmonica player in Minevitch's band swings it hot. Not a good movie, and yet, thanks to Huston, and, to a lesser extent, the ladylike Francis (who sure knew how to wear a hat), I couldn't stop watching.
This must have been a play at one time. What an interesting romantic story about a family torn apart, because of bad/unlucky circumstances. I like all of Kay Francis' movies. I am learning more about Walter Houston. What a good looking and great actor. The story ends the way it should. It is a good romance without all the "love making"....A very talented singer is Gloria Warren. I am sorry I didn't know about her sooner. Frankie Thomas is so good looking and an impressive actor. I will have to find out more about him. As expected, Sidney Blackmer has always been good and I look forward to his movies. Thank you for listening. Florence Forrester-Stockton , Reno, Nevada
Always In My Heart was taken from the play Fly Away Home which ran for
204 performances in 1935. In the original Broadway cast, Thomas
Mitchell was the star in the role that Walter Huston played on screen.
And a 15 year old Montgomery Clift made his stage debut in the role of
During the interim before it reached the screen the film that became known as Always In My Heart was adapted for the wartime present. It also became a musical of sorts with one original song written for it, You're Always In My Heart and some classical and standard pop songs filling out the score. Because it was a musical the emphasis went away from the son and father to the daughter and father with Gloria Warren who Jack Warner was obviously building up to be his answer to Universal's Deanna Durbin. Warren sang pretty, but never quite made it as a second Durbin.
Walter Huston is the father of Frankie Thomas and Gloria Warren who was in jail for about 15 years and was pardoned. During that time he divorced their mother Kay Francis at his insistence. He figured he was going to be in jail for life as that was the sentence meted out to him for a homicide of a business partner who doubledealed him. The kids were told he died and Francis is now ready to marry the stuffy, but rich Sidney Blackmer.
Stopping by the house and not meeting Francis, Huston ingratiates himself with Warren when he tunes her piano and in that displays the musical knowledge and gift he's passed on to Warren. They develop a relationship of sorts as Huston decides to hang around see his kids for a few days before exiting their lives.
Thomas is getting his hormones in an uproar over the sexy Amida on this California coast town, but she's only using him to make her boy friend Anthony Caruso jealous. He's in need of some fatherly advice even if he doesn't know it's his father. As for Warren she likes singing with the poor fisher folk living on the wharves with their harmonica band led by Borrah Minevitch. Blackmer does not approve of her associating with the lower classes.
Towards the downside of her career, Kay Francis gradually transitioned into mother roles, if the film had been done at MGM, Greer Garson might have been cast. She and Huston do well together in their joint scenes.
The title song for Always In My Heart received an Academy Award nomination as the Best Song, the only nomination the film received. But this was the year of White Christmas and no other song was going to win the Oscar that year.
Certain things in the film tell me that the original play was a great deal more serious. The changes were made in keeping with wartime years as Gloria Warren the Harmonica Rascals led by Borrah Minevitch were aiming at both a USO show and a big radio contract. Of course Warren is also aiming to study seriously as well.
The changes leave Always In My Heart quite a hybrid film, not quite drama and not quite comedy. Still it's a pleasant enough film with the cast doing very well by their roles.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
There is enough "story" in the movie to fill a 60 minute feature but no
more. The rest is padding, most of it extended and largely pointless
musical numbers. Gloria Warren may indeed have had an unusually high
vocal range, but her voice is painfully thin and painfully annoying,
even allowing for the sound recording limitations of the period. She
sounds like a church soprano whose voice will not mesh with the others
in the choir. Her charisma matches her voice.
The ending of the movie is inevitable, and it is inevitable from the early prison scene between Kay Francis and Walter Huston. There is not even a mildly divergent sub-plot to move things along except for the perfunctory story concerning Frankie Thomas and his girlfriend. I kept expecting some unexpected plot points to develop around Sydney Blackmer, but none did.
However....Kay Francis and Walter Huston are very appealing and very charming. Their roles were hardly a stretch for either one of them, but they are worth watching. They make the whole thing, as tired and pointless as it is, watchable and even - almost - enjoyable. But not quite. I will watch anything with Kay Francis in it; no one else, ever, conveyed warmth and generosity as she did. This movie, sad to say given its limitations, is one of her better Warner Brothers films. She's terrific; her movies were not.
What a supple, burnished soprano for a twenty-or-whatever-year old, what range! - Do you tin-ears (sorry; I can't resist) realise she just held a HIGH F (that's UNGODLY high) for a long time at the end of "Una Voce Poca Fa?" - and that whole harmonica / soft shoe number just performed by the company was adorable, accomplished and fun. FUN! - No fighting Ninjas, no hugely amplified, droning electroid muzack. The movie's about half through (am watching it on TCM just now) and I think it's a gas. Well done, lovely Gloria Warren, Walter Huston and co. A human story, told with feeling and class. Who knew. --- Oh rats, that's all I want to say, and this dang IMDb thing won't accept this review unless I make it much more verbose. Ho hum. What shalt I say here: well, Una What's her-Face (Olivia de Havilland / Maid Marian's chaperone in 1939) just played a tiny comic scene TO PERFECTION: "Dinner is served in the breakfast nook" - hilarious accent; perfect, light timing. - Those Brits sure perfected comic chops. - OK, is that 10 lines now?? I hope so. - I shalt now re-submit this scholarly, authoritative tome. LET'S HEAR IT FOR WARNER BROTHERS!
A very touching story in which Kay Francis -- looking great -- is
(improbably) married to Walter Huston, who's in jail.
She's being courted by a rich man, but no one likes him (us included).
The husband gets out of jail and, also a musician, hangs out in "Fish Town," an Italian community on the docks.
It sounds corny but it works.
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