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The Unsinkable Molly Brown (1964)

Approved | | Biography, Comedy, Musical | 11 June 1964 (USA)
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Molly is an uneducated, poor, mountain girl who leaves her mountain cabin in search of a wealthy husband, respect and a better life.

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Nominated for 6 Oscars. Another 5 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Shamus Tobin
...
Christmas Morgan
...
Buttercup Grogan
Vassili Lambrinos ...
Prince Louis de Laniere
Fred Essler ...
Baron Karl Ludwig von Ettenburg
...
Polak
Lauren Gilbert ...
Mr. Fitzgerald
Kathryn Card ...
Mrs. Wadlington
...
Malcolm Broderick
Harry Holcombe ...
Mr. Wadlington
Amy Douglass ...
Mrs. Fitzgerald
George Mitchell ...
Monsignor Ryan
Martita Hunt ...
Grand Duchess Elise Lupavinova
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Storyline

Majestic mountains are in the background and a waterfall in the foreground. Is that a canoe on the river? No it's a cradle with a baby. The buoyant Molly Brown has survived the first crisis of her life -- a flood. Sixteen years later she sets out to make her way in the world. Can she sing and play the piano? She assures the Leadville saloon keeper that she can and learns quickly. Soon she is the bride of Johnny Brown, who in a few years will be able to replace the original cigar wrapper wedding ring with a replica in gold and gemstones. But it takes more than a few million dollars to be accepted by Denver society. The Browns head for Europe and bring a few crowned heads back to Denver for a party that turns into a ballroom brawl. Molly goes to Europe alone, returning on the Titanic. She didn't survive a flood as a baby for the story to end here. Written by Dale O'Connor <daleoc@interaccess.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

11 June 1964 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

La inconquistable Molly Brown  »

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(70 mm prints) (Westrex Recording System)| (35 mm prints)| (some prints)

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(Metrocolor)| (some shots)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The story of J.J. Brown accidentally burning his money after Molly hid it in the stove didn't really happen. It was made up by a Denver journalist after Molly Brown became a hero on the Titanic. When asked by her daughter why she didn't refute the false story, Molly Brown supposedly replied, "It's better that they write *something* about me than nothing." (Kathy Bates, as Molly Brown, repeats the story in James Cameron's Titanic (1997).) Molly Brown is also said to have reported the story with a slightly different ending. Molly did hide money in the potbelly stove in their Leadville cabin, and Johnny unknowingly started a fire on a particularly cold night. That's in keeping with the other version, but the end of the story, as told by Molly and reported in newspapers interviews during her lift, was a little different. Her addition was "Just think if it had been paper money!" The "money" was gold and silver coin which melted and melted to the stove. Miners didn't trust paper money in those years. The stove had to be broken apart and resmelted to separate the iron, gold and silver. See more »

Goofs

The Molly Brown House in Denver is actually quite small. Only one room had a smidgen of red wallpaper (she also thought too much red to be gauche). Her parties were well-attended (although the orchestra played from the balcony outdoors and serenaded the whole neighborhood), and she was accepted by her peers even before the Titanic. The larger house, which she named Avoca, was at the time outside of Denver. Both houses are restored and open to the public. See more »

Quotes

Molly Brown: What's that mean? Best regards?
'Leadville' Johnny Brown: Well it means not just 'regards', but best regards.
See more »

Connections

Edited from A Night to Remember (1958) See more »

Soundtracks

BELLY UP TO THE BAR, BOYS
(uncredited)
Performed by Debbie Reynolds
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
You Can Take Leadville Out Of The Girl, But Not Out Of The Guy
18 March 2008 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Debbie Reynolds stars in this boisterous adaption of the Broadway musical, The Unsinkable Molly Brown, based on the life of legendary Denver society woman and heroine of the Titanic disaster. It's a film role perfectly suited to Debbie Reynolds both musically and dramatically.

The Meredith Willson musical ran for 532 performances on Broadway and starred Tammy Grimes there. In the Hollywood tradition though, a movie name was thought to be needed. 1964 was a bad year for Broadway actresses who originated roles and did not get the film role. Julie Andrews also knew exactly how Tammy Grimes felt.

The one big difference is that no one had to dub Debbie Reynolds. Her singing and dancing is all a part of one remarkable role where the character ages and matures and there's a big difference in those two life functions. I'm of the firm belief that MGM cast her in this part because of her musical numbers in How the West Was Won which they also produced. Debbie may also still have been under contract to them from the old days.

Harve Presnell came over from Broadway to play her husband John J. Brown of Leadville, Colorado and who makes them both rich beyond their wildest dreams. But Molly's dreams are larger than John's and it causes their parting. Presnell has a terrific baritone voice and he unfortunately came along at the tail end of movie musicals. His next film was Paint Your Wagon and he got to sing They Call the Wind Maria which requires a real singer to do, not something Lee Marvin or Clint Eastwood could fake. Presnell's developed into a fine character actor though.

Years ago I happened to meet Ed Begley's widow at an event. She mentioned to me that her husband for all the great dramatic parts he played including winning an Oscar for Sweet Bird of Youth was at heart a song and dance man. He loved to get up and perform at parties and such. I said to her that the role of Debbie Reynolds's father in The Unsinkable Molly Brown must have been one he loved and she said it was his favorite. Begley certainly looks like he's having a great old time in the part.

Meredith Willson's score, while not as good as The Music Man still has some fine numbers. Debbie's infectious singing of I Ain't Down Yet is the high point. For Presnell his anthem to Colorado My Home if it isn't, it should be that state's official song.

The only criticism I have of the film is that as good as Molly Brown is here there was so much more to the woman that The Unsinkable Molly Brown doesn't even get into. She was a suffragette, a leader in reform of juvenile offender laws, a noted philanthropist, she wasn't just a party girl who got a chance for heroism on the Titanic. I wish that had been dealt with in the film and the Broadway musical.

For a rollicking good musical experience though, you cannot beat The Unsinkable Molly Brown. No putting this woman or this film down, ever.


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