6.7/10
209
15 user 2 critic

Centennial Summer (1946)

In 1876 Philadelphia, two sisters vie for the affections of a Frenchman who's come to town to prepare the French pavilion for the Centennial exposition.

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview:
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Julia Rogers
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Philippe Lascalles
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Edith Rogers
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Ben Phelps
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Jesse Rogers
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Zenia Lascalles
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Mrs. Rogers
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Susanna Rogers
Larry Stevens ...
Richard Lewis Esq
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Deborah
Buddy Swan ...
Dudley Rogers
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J.P. Snodgrass
Avon Long ...
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Storyline

In 1876 Philadelphia, two sisters vie for the affections of a Frenchman who's come to town to prepare the French pavilion for the Centennial exposition.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

History | Musical

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Details

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Release Date:

August 1946 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Tia de Paris  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Although big band singer Kay St-Germaine sang for Linda Darnell in both "Hangover Square" (1945) and "My Darling Clementine" (1946), she did not sing for Miss Darnell in this film as several sources wrongly assume. A classically-trained soprano sings for Miss Darnell this time. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Preminger: Anatomy of a Filmmaker (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

The Right Romance
(uncredited)
Music by Jerome Kern
Lyrics by Jack Yellen
Sung by Jeanne Crain (dubbed by Louanne Hogan)
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User Reviews

 
Glorious, enchanting, warm-hearted musical--Jerome Kern's last, haunting score.
5 August 2002 | by (New York City, USA) – See all my reviews

If remembered at all, "Centennial Summer" is generally dismissed as 20th-Century-Fox's failed attempt to copy "Meet Me in St. Louis."

I'd like to set the record straight, and urge Fox to release this neglected treasure on VHS, DVD, cable-TV, whatever, so today's movie-lovers can savor one of the most endearing, original, lovingly crafted musicals ever made.

This lavish Technicolored production is indeed a visual knockout, but what truly matters is so much more than its dazzling visuals. Set against the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, this exquisitely designed valentine to a bygone era focuses on a suburban middle-class family's troubles and turmoils, highlighted by Jerome Kern's final (and one of his finest) scores.

Jeanne Crain and Linda Darnell are the daughters of railroad/laborer aspiring/inventor Walter Brennan and his understanding wife, the lovely Dorothy Gish in one of her rare film appearances. Their humdrum lives are sparked by the arrival of a glamorous Parisian relative (the dazzling Constance Bennett)and a dashing young French man (Cornel Wilde) in charge of setting up his country's exhibition at the Centennial.

That's the plot, and it's a more-than-sufficient frame for a charming, low-keyed, often surprisingly moving dramatization of a family in crisis. Ms. Crain & Ms. Darnell are heartbreakingly beautiful as the sibling rivals in romance; Otto Preminger's direction is subtle and refreshingly modest; and though none of Kern's songs became hits, the underrated score includes some of the loveliest ballads ever written--Listen closely to the melodic "The Right Romance," "In Love in Vain" and "All Through the Day." "Up with the Lark" is as captivating, tuneful, brilliantly photographed and sung a showstopper as one could wish for. And the rousing "Railroad Song," plus an unexpected diversion "Cinderella Sue" (performed by Avon Long and several black children, sans one iota of the racial condescension typical of films of its era) are two more rousing highlights.

The cast is uniformly superb (Ms. Crain's plaintive beauty and heartfelt sincerity set the screen aglow; William Eythe, a talented, appealing actor whose life and career were tragically short, adds a special poignancy as Ms. Darnell's spurned suitor), the production design exquisite, and the screenplay (based on a long-forgotten novel) will touch you in ways you wouldn't expect from a movie musical.

"Centennial Summer" deserves stature as one of the finest musicals of all time. That few people have even heard of it, much less seen it, is sad indeed. It deserves to be revived, re-evaluated and cherished for the work of art it most certainly is.


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