"Mike" goes to live with her pregnant older sister, Babs, who plays string bass in Iturbi's orchestra. And the orchestra is rapidly turning completely female, what with the draft. As the orchestra travels around the country, Babs' fellow orchestra members intercept and hide her War Office telegram, to protect the baby. Written by
The member of the band at the Army base who breaks up Jimmy Durante's performance of "Umbriago" by singing in front of the microphone is Eddie Jackson (ne Edward Jacobs), Durante's long time partner in the night-club team of Clayton, Jackson and Durante. The trio performed for years on vaudeville and at New York's Club Durant (sic) but it was the bottom-billed Jimmy who became the star. Lou Clayton, who gave up show business to manage his partner's career, made Jimmy a millionaire. See more »
This is sheer magic. Margaret O'Brien, aged seven, is the perfect pixie. Unlike Shirley Temple, who could be over-sweet, Margaret O'Brien as a child star was too honest and direct ever to be saccharine, and she never catered to an audience at the expense of her character. Although she could doubtless turn tears on for the camera like a true pro, she never compromised her integrity of genuine childlike innocence, the portrayal of which on the screen borders on the supernatural. Although I met her briefly once before, just to say hello to, I knew her for a few days when she was already a young woman. At that time she was wearing an excessive amount of makeup to try to appear 'grown up' and shed the childlike image which was costing her work as an adult. I saw her once with no makeup at all, and was astounded that even when grown up, underneath her disguise, she had exactly the same child's face. She was very shy and difficult to communicate with because of her apparent introversion. It was evident, however, that her ability to portray innocent adorable waifs on the screen was because it was all true deep inside. Matched here with the childlike June Allyson, the pair are real heart-breakers, and the business of Kleenex must have doubled when this film was released towards the end of the War, especially as there is a husband away fighting in the Pacific, which is a thread throughout the story. This film was directed by Henry Koster, best known for 'My Cousin Rachel' in 1952, who on occasion could tease the very best out of actresses. Larry Adler aged 30 is in the film, in a small speaking part, and plays Debussy's 'Clair de la Lune' beautifully. This is after all a film based round music and a symphony orchestra conducted by real-life conductor and pianist Jose Iturbi, who has a prominent part in the story and does very well. It is fascinating to watch his technique of conducting from the piano, where he leaps up and down with a jack-in-the-box. There are many absolutely hilarious moments in this delightful film, some brought about by Jimmy Durante, whose thick accent however becomes less comprehensible with every passing year that takes us further away from those New York days of Damon Runyon which produced him. (Ethnicity is no longer guaranteed to be funny like it was then, either.) This is one of those films where you will either cry because you are crying or cry because you are laughing, but either way, there is no escape. This film is pure delight, an absolute joy. It is guaranteed to cure any case of depression instantly.
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