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In what turned out to be his first film since his discharge from the
Navy after World War II, Dan Dailey gets to co-star with Betty Grable
in the first of four films they did together. Lucky break for Dailey as
Grable was at the top of her pinup girl popularity.
Mother Wore Tights is based on a book my Miriam Young whose character is the youngest of the two sisters of this vaudeville family and played at her oldest in the film by Connie Marshall. The story is her family memoir and takes us back to Grable and Dailey as young high school graduate and young vaudevillian song and dance man.
It takes a while, but Grable manages to make the act a double on stage and in life. Grable's not terribly convincing as a teenager, she was a little long in the tooth, but really I don't think the audience cared.
Dan Dailey is always been a marvel to me, a fine dramatic actor as well as a great song and dance man. I did love those spiffy and goofy costumes he wore when in stage character.
Mother Wore Tights earned three Academy Award nominations, color cinematography, musical scoring, and for Best Song, You Do one of the original songs written by Josef Myrow and Mack Gordon. You can get bootleg recordings off the soundtrack of Mother Wore Tights and most of Grable's films as she never made too many trips to the recording studios as per Darryl Zanuck's edict to his musical stars.
Mother Wore Tights is a fine piece of nostalgic cinema, so typical of the color musicals 20th Century Fox did with their players. Very charming and exhibits the talents of its leads very well.
I saw this movie when it was "first run" in 1947. Betty Grable was at the height of her popularity and "Mother Wore Tights" helped her to remain as the highest paid woman of that year. The back-stage story, a cliché and, perhaps, quite trite in 2005, was fresh, especially because of the family element: two Vaudevilians raising their two daughters, one of whom provides the voice-over narration (done by Anne Baxter). Visually, the film is spectacularly Technicolorful. The songs and dancing are typical of the era and delightfully entertaining. While "You Do" was nominated for Best Song, I think that "Kokomo, Indiana" is a better candidate. This is one of the best of Betty Grable's films, and for the first time she has a male partner in Dan Dailey who is more than just a dancing extra. After almost fifty years, the film is still fun to watch. It's too bad that a similarly appealing film, the 1948 "When My Baby Smiles At Me" with Grable and Dailey, is not available.
This beautiful treatment of a show business family has become for me THE movie musical memory of my formative years. All cast members provide excellent performances, especially Dan Dailey and Betty Grable, with an unforgettable score that still resonates in my memory. Would love to purchase a copy of this classic for my home film library.
A rollicking, cheerful musical about a vaudeville family and their
A classic and must see. Ask TCM or AMC to bring this back. You'll be glad you did. It is guaranteed to bring smiles and thoughts of simpler, happier times. Happy New Year.
dan daily did such a good job of dancing and had the ability to make you feel the part. betty grable was her delightful self. loved the music. these were the days when movies were entertaining and you left the theater feeling good!!
Betty Grable and Dan Daily were an excellent team, and this was one of their best. The music, while old fashioned corn, is fantastic, and the storyline -- also corn-- is great musical material. A great family picture. Song standouts include a delightful TRA LA LA LA LA, and also a great tribute to KOKOMO, INDIANA. Granted, Betty was no Garland, and she never tried to be, and this picture utilized more of her than just her valuable legs and incandescent beauty. Dan Daily brought out the best in Betty Grqble, and their numbers are always a delight. For any Fox musical aficionado, this film is a necessity. Not a wrong note in the whole picture.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hard to believe this was Dan Dailey's first film appearance in 4 years,
and his first costarring role, after his pre-WWII serviceman film
career was wasted in bit parts, often in non-musicals. After failing to
sign veteran stars James Cagney or Fred Astaire in the role of Betty's
vaudeville partner, and later husband, Dailey was signed. It isn't hard
for audiences to tell that he and Betty were made for each other as a
musical comedy team. They were about the same age, both had begun
performing on stage as children, and both had the ideal vaudevillian
mix of singing, dancing, comedic and acting talent. When given a
chance, as in this film, Dailey exhibited an effortless sense of
comedic timing combined with an easy-going personality; a sort of guy
you would wish to chum with.
This first of 4 unions of Dan and Betty in a musical is probably the high water mark of Betty's career, and perhaps Dan's career as well. Present viewers will probably be surprised that this was the top grossing film for Fox in 1947 and the 4th most attended film for all studios, as well as Betty's reported favorite of her films. Although it has its pluses, apparently, it hasn't aged well, as only very recently has it become available as a made-on-demand DVD release. Or look for it on TV, as I did.). Like their later musical "My Blue Heaven", the screenplay departed from most musicals in that the melodrama mostly involved their children or attempt to acquire a child, rather than the usual fare of romantic and professional ups and downs. It's structured more like "Meet Me in St. Louis", except that it's the parents, rather than an offspring, who do most of the musical numbers. It's been pointed out that the inclusion of children was a more relevant topic during the post-war baby boom than during the war. With its largely informal family atmosphere, mostly vaudevillian -styled upbeat musical numbers, and inclusion of Dan, I'm not surprised Betty reports this as her favorite film she did. Dailey would later again costar in a musical(There's No Business Like Show Business) in which he played the eventual father of a vaudeville family. However, the grown children contributed much more to the musical numbers than in the present film, where Iris only sings some in the latter part.
The film is presented as a flashback by an occasionally narrating Mikie: their youngest daughter. Dan and Betty's characters are loosely based on the vaudeville team of Frank and Myrtle Burt. Initially, Dan does a solo comedic act to "Berlington Bertie From Bow", dressed like Fred and Judy in "A Couple of Swells" of "Easter Parade", released the next year. When Betty does her impersonation of this act at his birthday party, Dan is impressed enough to offer her to become his stage partner. But first, she joins a chorus of a stage show featuring Dan singing and dancing back and forth to a lively version of the Myrow-Gordon song "You Do". This tune served as the de facto theme song. Betty would later redo it as a slow romantic ballad, as would her older daughter Iris(Mona Freeman) in the finale.
Between these numbers, Dan and Betty do a series of brief song and dance numbers to "This Is My Favorite City". Later, both dress in Astaire-like tails and top hat as they dance across the stage while singing "We're a Couple of Broadway Brothers", followed by the catchy "Kokomo, Indiana". You will have noticed by now that Dan's dancing style is more like that of Ray Bolger than Astaire.
The next significant scene has the girls making a surprise visit to their parents late on Christmas eve. It's too late to buy a tree, so Dan finds one growing in a front yard, and cuts it down with his handyman knife!, then is chased by a policeman, in a comical scene. A little private show is put on, with a clown, and Senor Wences performing his famous puppet routine, making his hand up to become the face of his most familiar puppet: Johnny. This was before Wences became a household phenomenon, with his repeated performances on the Ed Sullivan TV show. Iris sings "Silent Night".
Next, they spend a month at an upscale Berkshire Highlands resort. Unfortunately, they find all the other wealthy guests a bore. Dan dubs this resort "Deadpan Alley". They try to animate the others with an informal "Tra-la-la-la-la", but with little effect. They almost leave prematurely, but Iris pleads she wants more time spent with a discovery: Bob. Also, some guests promise that they will respond to further entertainment attempts by the family. Thus, "Lily of the Valley" is sung and danced to. But, Iris is afraid she will never see Bob again, as he is starting at Harvard. So, it's decided to put the girls in a finishing school near Harvard. Later, on a train, the young people, especially Iris, sing "Swinging Down the Lane" and "Stumbling". But Iris doesn't want her parents to come to a house party, because she feels inferior in status and wealth to the other girls. Nonetheless, they come and perform a show featuring a combination of "There's Nothing like a Song", a reprise of "Kokomo, Indiana", and "Rolling Down Bowling Green": the main version of the latter having been cut. This is followed by Iris's rendition of "You Do", after a group sing of "Fare -Thee -Well, Alma Mater".
It's not Astaire nor Berlin, but if you like Dan and Betty, go for it! The last portion, that largely deals with Iris's maturing into a woman, is a bit tedious, but not as bad as some reviewers suggest.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yes, the subject may be vaudeville, but indeed, this is a film somewhat
ahead of its time as it details how the absence of parents on their
children has an effect on them. It is also the tale of a marriage, a
successful career, and an era we will certainly never see again. It is
also a lesson about how not to judge someone just because they are old;
They may indeed have a past much hotter than yours! "Mother, how could
you?" narrator Anne Baxter inquiries as she tells us about the life of
the sweet old lady crocheting who at one time could kick up her legs to
the delight of the tired businessmen in the audience. Mother is Betty
Grable, the pin-up girl, and the young musical comedy star who had the
highest insured legs in the business. Having left Oakland for Business
College in San Francisco, she got sidetracked by a light opera house
(i.e. vaudeville or burlesque hall) and ended up co-starring with the
hammy headliner Dan Dailey whom she eventually married. Mother decides
to put show business aside when she has children, but when father's
partner backs out for a new invention called moving pictures, dad asks
that mother return, and her feisty grandmother (Sara Allgood) tells her
that she should have been with him all along.
As Myrt and McKinnley, they travel the provinces, and are prepared to spend Christmas away from the family when grandma steps in and sends them the best Christmas of all. Realizing that their children are growing up into young ladies and need proper education, they send them to boarding school, and as the oldest, Iris (Mona Freman), begins to grow into a beautiful young woman with social ambitions, she is slightly embarrassed over her parent's occupation. Myrtle and Bert step in to help their daughter adjust to accepting them and show her that not all entertainers are loud hams who jump in to take over a song when a group of youngsters are singing on a train to entertain themselves.
The first and best of the Dailey/Grable pairings (although Dailey was nominated for an Oscar for playing an alcoholic vaudevillian opposite Grable in the following year's "When My Baby Smiles at Me"), this is more than just another "Alexander's Ragtime Band" or "Tin Pan Alley". It really goes beyond just being an entertainment, exploring the dynamics of family and how they deal with being separated and getting past identity crisis of the teenage years. It is also filled with a glorious song score including "Berlington Bertie From Bow" (repeated by Julie Andrews in "Star!") and songs written directly for the film like "This is My Favorite City", "Bowling Green", "Tra La La La La" and "Kokomo, Indiana". The main theme, "You Do", is heard several times, first as a chorus number, later as a beautiful solo by Grable and finally by Freeman at her high school graduation, and was deservedly nominated for an Oscar.
While Dailey and Grable never became as beloved as Astaire and Rogers, it is apparent that they came too late in the musical game to hold court for longer than a few joint appearances. However, they are glorious together, and unlike Astaire and Rogers are not placed together against type; You really feel they belong together. Allgood gives her good old Welsh charm as Grandmother, while Freeman and Connie Marshall are delightful as the two sisters who as Baxter narrates both loved and hated each other, yet were never not devoted. Veda Ann Borg is very funny as the cynical but wise chorus line pal of Grable's. In smaller roles, William Frawley, Lee Patrick, Maude Eburne and Ruth Nelson also deserve credit in character parts.
This is a highlight for the episodic family get-togethers, particularly the funny and touching Christmas sequence (featuring some very entertaining guests including Senor Wences) and the Berkshire Highlands summer resort scenes. Lotte Stein and Sig Ruman are adorable as the elderly European couple who encounter young Marshall while the family is on that holiday. The ending is touching as it reminds us that as our parents get older, the memory of their youth to them is as fresh as ours is to us.
While BETTY GRABLE was never in the same league with Ginger Rogers or
Rita Hayworth as a dancer, she does manage to keep up nicely with DAN
DAILEY in this pleasant backstage musical of a vaudeville couple who
become a dance team, marry and raise a family. The voice-over narration
is by none other than ANNE BAXTER, although MONA FREEMAN and CONNIE
MARSHALL play the couple's children.
Grable is still at the height of her box-office popularity here, charming in the song-and-dance routines that show off her shapely figure and modest talents as a dancer, while Dailey is at his breezy best as her highly confident partner.
By today's standards, it's no doubt going to find some who find it too schmaltzy and corny but fans of the escapist movies of the '40s will no doubt succumb to its charms.
Alfred Newman's musical score won a Best Musical Score Oscar and the film had two nominations for Color Cinematography and the song "You Do". The musical numbers are light and entertaining, my personal favorite being the "Kokomo, Indiana" song-and-dance, although the Oscar winning ballad is nice enough.
But there's nothing special here. Grable fans might be disappointed that the musical numbers aren't more lavish (or as garish as they usually are in a Grable film), but the story has some warm appeal that makes up for the neglected gaudier aspects.
Trivia note: An actor named STEPHEN DUNNE (as Roy), bears a remarkable resemblance to GEORGE MONTGOMERY. Could be his twin brother!!
"Mother Wore Tights" is an easy going, easy-to-take musical
comedy/drama of the kind Hollywood no longer makes. It is
quintessential family fare with something for everyone, with two
attractive and talented stars playing off one another and exhibiting
the necessary chemistry required for most successful movie match-ups.
Especially good are the song-and-dance numbers with Betty Grable and
Dan Dailey, who play a married vaudeville team who separate when she
finds she is expecting. They are surrounded by a good supporting cast,
including William Frawley, Sara Allgood and with Mona Freeman and
Connie Marshall as the daughters of the vaudeville duo... and when was
the last time you saw Senor Wences? (I think I'm talking to older
This one has all the usual trappings of a Fox musical except that it lacks good songs. The big production number, "You Do", got an Oscar nomination but is just passable, and is delivered heavy on the syrup. The better song is "Kokomo, Indiana", which I thought was the best song and dance number in the picture and is Grable and Dailey at their best.
This picture is still a good example of 'G' rated movie entertainment and should appeal to moviegoers of all ages. It just needed 1 blockbuster number to make it a great movie - as is, it is good enough for a rating of seven.
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