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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
When the Duchess is coming down the staircase at Molly's party, Molly elbows Gladys and tells her to curtsey. In the next shot, which is from farther back and takes in the guests and the staircase, the same exchange between Molly and Gladys is shown again. See more »
I had the pleasure of accompanying my great aunt and one of her contemporaries to the opening of this movie in Denver in 1964. Because they had known the old girl herself (the real Mrs. Margaret Brown, that is) back in the early years of the century, both in Leadville and Denver, they were keen on seeing what Hollywood and Debbie had done with the story.
I remember vividly watching their reactions turn from initial pleasure with the opening number to puzzlement when Debbie started to chew the scenery and behave like, well, Debbie Reynolds. This was followed by Ed Begley and the boys in the saloon hooting it up, and the two old ladies next to me started to frown a bit and whisper something to the effect that "it was not like that at all." They were becoming quite restless until the Denver bits began, but they seemed to accept the remainder of the story with a good deal of resignation that it was all just good fun and nonsense, and wasn't that what going to the movies was all about?
Afterward, as we strolled over to the Brown Palace for dinner, they regaled me with a complete history of the real Mrs. Brown and the many mutual friends they had enjoyed meeting at that same venue from roughly 1895 to 1915 when they were themselves just being presented into Denver society. I learned, among other things, that Mrs. Brown was considered an eccentric but generally well-liked and articulate woman who, despite never really being accepted at the toniest levels, became a legend in her own time after the Titanic episode. That part of the story was not only true, but actually a larger-than-life experience, the details of which they agreed should have been featured more profoundly in the film version.
The next time I drove down Wadsworth Blvd. and saw Mrs. Brown's "Summer House," a rather grand Victorian edifice like the better known one in the center of Denver, I tried to picture Debbie Reynolds in that setting and could not quite fit the two together. That in spite of the fact that Debbie herself grew up in El Paso at the southern end of the same Rocky Mountains that rise northward through Colorado.
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