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Father Conroy (Crosby) has a parish which serves the acting and performance community. When one of his parishoners gets too sick to work, his daughter Holly (Reynolds) finds a job working for a dance club of questionable character, which is run by Tony Vincent (Wagner). Vincent never made the big time, and Father Conroy tries to look after Holly. There are many musical numbers, and the conclusion is a televised benefit show hosted by Father Conroy, and Tony must choose between Holly and national fame. Written by
Scott Jentsch <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Say One For Me features a great cast including Bing Crosby, Debbie Reynolds, Ray Walston, Frank McHugh, and Connie Gilchrist. The tunes are engaging, especially the title number and The Spirit of Christmas. Debbie Reynolds sings and dances with engaging verve and Bing Crosby croons with all his customary flair and charm.
Unfortunately, this misbegotten cross between White Christmas and Going My Way suffers from a leaden, self-righteous script which not even its talented director, Frank Tashlin, can rescue. Great comic character actor supports like Walston, McHugh, and Gilchrist are utterly wasted in this nauseating, pointless story of a hip priest in New York's theater district who puts on a show. In fact, there aren't many laughs in this pious piece of sentimental claptrap, which seems incredible given Tashlin's involvement (he was an alumnus of Looney Tunes).
Debbie Reynolds' love interest is portrayed by Robert Wagner, cast against type (in a role originally intended for Frank Sinatra) as an undiscovered musical talent with underworld leanings running a low class dive who first tries to seduce Reynolds' virginal good girl, then engages in a badly written relationship with her which forms the core of this tedious story. Although Wagner can carry a tune reasonably well, he is hopelessly outclassed by Crosby and Reynolds; in addition, Wagner's dancing is unfortunate but happily kept to a minimum (including an inexplicable solo turn performed with athletic mediocrity), leaving Reynolds to carry most of the production numbers by herself. Wagner's acting performance is acceptable if distasteful... but that's the script's fault.
At one time, this film was considered to be one of the 50 worst movies ever made, but recent abominations of much greater magnitude have ousted it from the Hall of Shame. I personally feel that the film is worth a viewing simply for the pleasant songs and musical performances, but you've been warned. The storyline itself is contrived, confused and stomach-turning. In an amusing side note, the opening credits have the same appearance as those in The Sound of Music, over a similar religious opening... One could only wish that this film were half as entertaining!
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