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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 <email@example.com>
At the time this film was made, there was actually a Catholic parish in the New York theatre district (maybe there still is). Since films rarely depict the religious life of theatre people, this was a potentially interesting background for a musical comedy-drama. Unfortunately it goes off in many wrong directions. Even Bing Crosby, in his third screen outing as a priest, seems to have lost a lot of his charm and humor. This cleric is much sterner and more sanctimonious than Father O'Malley.
Frank Tashlin directed some good comedies that took irreverent pokes at various 1950's institutions, but I don't think he was the type for the kind of sincere, schmaltzy Christmas fare this movie was apparently supposed to be. It also was about 10 years too late, as films were beginning to change and move away from well-crafted sentiment. I think the plot would have worked better in 1949.
There are some nice moments, some good tunes and performances. If you can lower your expectations, it's not altogether bad entertainment, but it's a shame it wasn't better, given the interesting premise.
The cast that tries to breathe life into the hackneyed show is a pretty good one, with Debbie Reynolds coming off best. Robert Wagner isn't altogether believable as a song and dance man. He's actually surprisingly good in the song numbers. It's just that he's playing someone who should be terrific. (I think the part was intended for Frank Sinatra, early on.) He handles the heel-like tendencies of the role pretty well.
The movie is watchable, relatively entertaining, professionally produced...not a total bomb. The songs are good. So you could do worse.
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