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The Helen Morgan Story (1957)

Torch singer Helen Morgan rises from sordid beginnings to fame and fortune only to lose it all to alcohol and poor personal choices.

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Russell Wade
...
Whitey Krause
...
Benny Weaver
...
...
Sue
...
Dorothy Green ...
Mrs. Wade
...
Johnny Haggerty
Warren Douglas ...
Mark Hellinger
Sammy White ...
Himself
The De Castro Sisters ...
Singers
Jimmy McHugh ...
Himself
...
Himself
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Storyline

The 1920's and 30's career of singer Helen Morgan is followed from her early days singing outdoors in a carnival, through her speak-easy and chorus-girl days, to her stardom on Broadway in Ziegfeld's "Show Boat". Her involvement with Larry Maddux, a gin-runner and con-man, and Russell Wade, a prominent, married New York lawyer, and her decline thanks to these failed romances and alcohol are punctuated by performances of many of the songs she made famous. Written by Ron Kerrigan <mvg@whidbey.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

HELEN MORGAN - her songs...her sins. They called her the Goddess of the Jazz Age...He was the twisted brutish Larry, with the roar of the '20s in his shoulder holsters... See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama | Music

Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 October 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Jazz Age  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The last Warner Bros. release in CinemaScope. Warner largely abandoned 'Scope production over the next few years, the few 2.35:1 films they made being in Technirama (Sayonara, Auntie Mame, John Paul Jones, The Miracle), before Panavision took over from 1960. See more »

Goofs

Paul Newman's character, Larry Maddux, repeatedly refers to Florenz Ziegfeld as "Ziegfield." All the other characters say Ziegfeld's name correctly. See more »

Quotes

Larry Maddux: This town's ready. I'm ready to open it for you like an oyster.
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Connections

Referenced in Valley of the Dolls (1967) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Just Wild About Harry
(uncredited)
Music by Eubie Blake
Played when Larry and Benny make their Miss Canada pitch to Helen
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Helen You Left Us Too Soon
2 July 2006 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

After Doris Day scored a success with Ruth Etting in Love Me or Leave Me and Susan Hayward did well with both Jane Froman and Lillian Roth in With a Song In My Heart and I'll Cry Tomorrow, it was decided that chanteuses of the past were good box office. So Ann Blyth gave it her best effort in a whitewashed version of The Helen Morgan Story.

Problem is that those other women had reasonably happy endings to their stories. Helen Morgan died in 1941, ready to make a comeback, but the years of booze, legal and illegal, took their toll on her body. She was only 41 years old, but packed a lot of hard living and heartache into her body and soul.

I guess it was decided that the audiences wouldn't take to her real unhappy ending so an ending that was out of This Is Your Life was tacked on to this film. It ends roughly in the middle thirties.

Although it's not mentioned at all in the story, Helen Morgan had a Hollywood career. She did an early sound film Applause, shot in New York while she was still on Broadway and introduced in that What Wouldn't I Do For That Man. That was one of her biggest hits and absent from this film. I guess Warner Brothers couldn't secure the rights.

Of course her two best known shows were Showboat and Sweet Adeline. Irene Dunne played her role in the film adaption of Sweet Adeline, but we are fortunate to have Helen doing her original role of Julie in the 1937 Universal film of Showboat. It's where fans today can see and appreciate her best. She also has a number in Al Jolson's Go Into Your Dance and sings another of her hits, The Little Things You Used to Do. Now Warners had the rights to that one.

The Helen Morgan presented here is a hard luck woman who had the misfortune to love and be loved by two wrong men for her. Bootlegger Paul Newman and married attorney Richard Carlson are the men in her life. Actually she did have two marriages, late in her life, and way after the action of this film takes place.

Newman plays one of the first in a long line of cynical characters he breathed life into in his career. To paraphrase a current hit film, he just can't seem to quit Helen nor she him. And Richard Carlson just wants to have his cake and eat it to, wife and kiddies at home and a tootsie on the side, many in fact.

Ann Blyth does a fine acting job. Why she wasn't allowed to use her own fine voice is a mystery since she actually sounds more like the real Helen Morgan than the dubbed Gogi Grant does. You'll see that for yourself in Showboat. Personally I'd have told Jack Warner to take the part and put it in an inconvenient place with that kind of arrangement.

It's hardly the real Helen Morgan Story, but it's a grand excuse to hear some fabulous Tin Pan Alley tunes of an era never to return.


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