Mother Wore Tights (1947) Poster

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Partners On Stage And Life
bkoganbing27 September 2009
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.
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A thoroughly pleasing old-fashioned movie musical
llewis0017 January 2005
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.
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Prominent on my all-time movies!!
wayno-921 July 1999
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.
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1sean27 December 2002
A rollicking, cheerful musical about a vaudeville family and their adventures.

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.
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delightful movie, sort of corny story,great song & dance, made me smile!
donnacarol3422 August 2000
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!!
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Vintage backstage family saga
sccates25 July 2005
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.
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Grable and Dailey made a fun nostalgic vaudeville team, with family concerns dominating the latter part.
weezeralfalfa31 August 2014
Warning: 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.
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Kalaman8 November 2003
This is by far the most disappointing of all Betty Grable musicals I have seen. Shot in Fox's sumptuous Technicolor, "Mother Wore Tights" is not a bad viewing but it could have been better. It opens with Grable and her husband living in quiet senility. Then her voice-over enters the soundtrack and starts recalling the past, detailing her life and marriage with a fellow vaudevillean (Dan Dailey). The film proceeds in a glacial, disconcerting pace, and the songs are mainly excruciating and dull, the dance numbers & vaudeville acts overwrought. The only thing that kept me watching "Mother Wore Tights" was the gorgeous Technicolor.
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Nostalgic vaudeville musical should please Grable/Dailey fans...
Neil Doyle6 December 2006
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!!
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