When My Baby Smiles at Me (1948) Poster

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7/10
Contains a good Dan Dailey performance
Christopher Craig9 October 2004
I saw this movie several times on television back in the 1970s, so my comments come from a rather distant memory. This film was typical of 20th Century Fox's output of Betty Grable films during the mid to late 1940s. A remake of Paramount's and Hal Skelly's DANCE OF LIFE (1929) and a further remake by Paramount in 1937 called SWING HIGH, SWING LOW starring Carole Lombard, the story is all about an alcoholic burlesque performer, played by Dan Dailey, who brings down not only himself but also his wife, played by Grable. Jack Oakie, June Haver, James Gleason, and Richard Arlen (!) are also in it. The most vivid memory I have of the film is Dan Dailey's Oscar nominated performance. I remember being impressed by him and finding him both believable and sympathetic. His performance lifts the film above the average Betty Grable nostalgia vehicle. The two stars were always good together, even though the material was usually recycled and mundane, sometimes wallowing in nostalgia and overproduction. Most feel Dailey's nomination for the Oscar a travesty: he took the place that many feel belonged to Humphrey Bogart in TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE. Bogart certainly deserved recognition for his work in that film, but Dailey's work here also warrants mention.

Directed by Walter Lang (of course), it's based on the play BURLESQUE.
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6/10
Masochistic musical from Fox...different from their usual output, and well-performed
moonspinner552 May 2009
Betty Grable and Dan Dailey fare quite well in this musical comedy-drama which, initially, appears to have come straight off the '40s-era assembly line at 20th Century-Fox Studios. Based on the play "Burlesque" by Arthur Hopkins and George Manker Watters, the atypically complicated plot concerns a married couple, stage performers in the 1920s, who are separated after the husband gets a shot on Broadway and the wife gets stuck behind on the road. The twosome remain devoted to each other until it leaks in the press he has been spending lots of free time with a pretty new co-star--the wife's nemesis! Grable wears a cockamamie hairdo throughout (and her only good song, "What Did I Do?", is hampered by poor choreography), though she's sweet in her backstage scenes, joshing with pals Jack Oakie and June Havoc, and playing flattered star to handsome admirer Richard Arlen. Dailey, on the other hand, received an Oscar nomination for his work, and it's easy to see why; walking a fine line between pathos and comedy, he's portraying a talented alcoholic, desperate to keep the peace while needing an outlet for his own frustrations (one senses he isn't so much insecure as he is a grown-up child who needs a firm, upstanding mother-figure to guide him). The picture doesn't really get into the masochism build into the plot's formula. Grable can see that her husband "Skid" is on the skids, floundering and helpless--his own worst enemy--yet Grable's loving responses to him are a tad bit insane. Sure, she's noble by lending a helping hand, but the movie-makers equate her kind gestures with a selflessness that goes beyond the call of duty. Betty isn't an enabler, per se--the point is made that her unconditional devotion will turn everything right again--but how many people actually bought this 'happy ending'? I didn't find it very convincing, but 1948 was really too early for Hollywood musicals to become dark and probing. For its time, this was probably just the tonic for matinée audiences hoping to shake the blues away. **1/2 from ****
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6/10
Isn't this a loose remake of...
calvinnme11 November 2017
Warning: Spoilers
... 1929's Dance of Life? I could be wrong, plus that original film was Paramount, not Fox, but the scripts are loosely the same, although this film lacks the pathos of the original, if that was indeed the pattern for this one.

From 20th Century Fox comes this 1948 musical comedy-drama about a married pair of vaudeville performers. Betty Grable stars as the showgirl wife, with Dan Dailey as the hard-drinking rising star husband, whose song-and-dance comedy routines have caught the attention of Broadway producers who want him to headline a new revue. He goes, but the wife stays with the smaller troupe, and Dailey's increasing fame is only matched by his drinking. Eventually things fall apart, but only after numerous stagebound musical numbers, including one terrible bit with Dailey surrounded by several female back-up dancers in brown-skin make-up as blackface shoeshine girls. That last bit is probably a big reason why this film is rarely shown anymore.

Grable once again fails to make an impression on me: she's not terrible, but in no way memorable either. Dailey earned a Best Actor Oscar nomination, and he has a big, manic meltdown scene, followed by a pitiful bit in the Bellevue drunk tank. He's good, but most of his performance is just his usual large and loud musical shtick. Richard Arlen plays a level-headed alternative for Grable's affections, and there are welcome supporting parts by James Gleason, Jack Oakie and June Havoc. This may be better appreciated by more avid musical fans than myself, but for me it's a one-and-done.
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10/10
Great Cast revives Burlesque
dizozza10 November 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In the screening last night everyone was moved and impressed with how the song and dance played against a believable relationship of dependency. Some remarked upon how harrowing the movie becomes, and that it really doesn't have a happy ending, just an acknowledgment that the dependency is mutual. The two other reviews here well describe the relationship: the fellow is talented but rudderless without a good woman, his wife. He gives 1000% as an entertainer. Someone who actually cares about him needs to reign him in. He is eager to please and will break his back in the process. He's portrayed by the real thing, Dan Dailey. His eyes say it all. He cannot be left alone. It's a scary and accurate portrayal, and Betty Grable balances his intensity with her own nobility and sincerity. This movie dispels any preconceived notions of them as lightweights. The play is engaging (I have Sherry Britton's copy of the play) and this movie adaptation (by Lamar Trotti) may improve upon it. The songs and skits improve with further viewing. They represent a compendium of Burlesque! The songs include Ray Henderson's The Birth of the Blues, Dan's flashy song and dance number announcing his arrival in New York, performed with help from little tanned shoe shine girls. Dan Dailey himself wears an eye- catching green shiny suit, and dances pretty beautifully. Other memorable songs are What Did I Do and By the Way (Josef Myro) ... Betty Grable asks What Did I Do? outside the bar by the harbor, and the title number, Bill Munro's When My Baby Smiles at Me is simply sung at the piano. It's an essential movie for anyone interested in furthering the legend of burlesque in the United States. The supporting cast is great. Please note James Gleason, particularly appealing as the mid-level producer of the road shows.
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