Chronicles the early life of gay nineties-era songwriter Paul Dresser as he outgrows his job as carnival entertainer and moves up into New York society, writing one hit song after another. ... See full summary »
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William A. Seiter
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Chronicles the early life of gay nineties-era songwriter Paul Dresser as he outgrows his job as carnival entertainer and moves up into New York society, writing one hit song after another. Despite his egotistical behavior, he manages to woo and win Sally Elliott, one of the more popular songstresses of the day. Written by
Doug Sederberg <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Darryl Zanuck loved doing these period musicals because the music of the time had by now passed into the public domain. For My Gal Sal, Zanuck didn't have any contemporary composers write anything original for the score on this one. Those original songs are what win Academy Awards as he would prove the following year with You'll Never Know.
My Gal Sal which along with On The Banks Of The Wabash was the most popular song that Paul Dresser ever wrote serves also as the title of this musical biography of Dresser. Paul originally named Dreiser was the oldest of nine children and the youngest was famed novelist Theodore Dreiser and Dreiser wrote a short essay in tribute to his older brother which was the basis for this film. Young Theodore only appears as a child at the beginning of the film.
But the title role is fictional musical comedy star Sally Elliott who is played by Rita Hayworth. She's got publisher John Sutton panting after her, but she's got this love/hate thing going on with Victor Mature as Dresser. The plot for Sutton must have seemed familiar, it's the same one that 20th Century Fox used in A Yank In The RAF where Sutton was in the same position as in this film only with Tyrone Power and Betty Grable.
If this were being made today we would get the real story which was that Paul Dresser was a man of large frame and large appetites. The 'Sal" he wrote this song for was in real life a bordello madame of a certain house that he favored and occasionally took aspiring novelist Theodore in for a quickie. He was also a man close to 300 pounds and the guy who could have played him for real at the time was on the 20th Century lot and that was Laird Cregar.
But Mature and Hayworth were just coming into their own and Zanuck got full use of them. Mature was his studio's property, but Rita was on loan from Columbia where Harry Cohn was starting to realize what a great find Hayworth was. Zanuck was developing his star with three films, this one, Blood And Sand and Tales Of Manhattan. They both looked real good and sang real good with dubbed voices.
A lot of period music, costuming, and sets is what My Gal Sal gets its best marks for. In fact the film won an Oscar for Best Art&Set Design. Rita looked and danced divinely even using someone else's voice as she always did.
It's not the best film of this type that Fox ever did, but if your taste does run into period musicals than you can't go wrong with My Gal Sal.
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