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Smilin' Through (1941)

Passed | | Musical, War, Fantasy | October 1941 (USA)
John Carteret has long been depressed and lonely, because, at his wedding years ago, his bride, Moonyean, was murdered. He accepts into his house Kathleen, the 5 year old orphaned niece of ... See full summary »


Frank Borzage


Donald Ogden Stewart (screen play), John L. Balderston (screen play) (as John Balderson) | 2 more credits »


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Complete credited cast:
Jeanette MacDonald ... Kathleen / Moonyean Clare
Brian Aherne ... Sir John Carteret
Gene Raymond ... Kenneth 'Ken' Wayne / Jeremy 'Jerry' Wayne
Ian Hunter ... Reverend Owen Harding
Frances Robinson ... Ellen
Patrick O'Moore ... Willie
Eric Lonsdale Eric Lonsdale ... Charles - Kenneth's Batman
Jackie Horner ... Kathleen - as a Child
David Clyde ... Sexton
Frances Carson Frances Carson ... Dowager
Ruth Rickaby ... Undetermined Secondary Role


John Carteret has long been depressed and lonely, because, at his wedding years ago, his bride, Moonyean, was murdered. He accepts into his house Kathleen, the 5 year old orphaned niece of Moonyean, and she quickly grows up to look just like her aunt. Kathleen meets and falls in love with a mysterious stranger from America, Kenneth Wayne. When John hears of this he is furious, and we learn that it was Kenneth's father, Jeremy, who had killed Moonyean years before. John carries his grudge against Jeremy to the new generation, and threatens to ruin his niece's happiness, but he softens in the end. Written by John Oswalt <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Jeanette MacDonald and husband Gene Raymond in their only screen collaboration! Their eyes met...and they knew they were meant for each other! See more »


Passed | See all certifications »






Release Date:

October 1941 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Catene del passato See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

Did You Know?


The original play opened in New York on 30 December 1919 and ran for 175 performances. Authors Jane Cowl and Jane Murfin used a single pseudonym (Allan Langdon Martin) as the author, but Cowl starred in the play under her real name. Also in the play were Charlotte Granville and Henry Stephenson. See more »


The flashback to the party before John and Moonyean's wedding includes an important scene in the garden involving only Moonyean and Jeremy. The framing device of the flashback is John telling Kathleen what happened back then. However, since Moonyean died and Jeremy disappeared forever the next day, there was no way for John to know what happened in the garden scene that he apparently relates to Kathleen. See more »


Kenneth: There's only one thing missing from this picnic. Don't you have any ants in England?
Kathleen: I have some in Ireland, but I never hear from them.
See more »


Version of Smilin' Through (1922) See more »


Auld Lang Syne
(1788) (uncredited)
Traditional Scottish 17th century music
Lyrics by Robert Burns
Played as background music at the train station
See more »

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User Reviews

Through time, dimension, and space
25 March 2006 | by bkoganbingSee all my reviews

It seems to be a general consensus on the board that this version is the inferior of the Norma Shearer-Leslie Howard-Fredric March version previously done by MGM a decade before. Without having seen that one, my guess is that is probably correct because those are all better players.

I was surprised to learn that originally Jeanette was given her choice of leading men as she was in San Francisco and picked Gable and Tracy for their parts. For Smilin' Through she originally had as her choices James Stewart and Robert Taylor. Then both dropped out and Jeanette had to settle for the B team.

The Jeanette MacDonald/Nelson Eddy joint biography by Sharon Rich which is the source of that information doesn't say which parts Taylor and Stewart were to play. But it's sure interesting to speculate who was to play John Carteret and who was to play Jeremy/Kenneth Wayne.

So Jeanette did the film with Brian Aherne and her husband Gene Raymond. Smilin' Through created no public demand for a reteaming of Mr.&Mrs. Raymond.

Smilin' Through was written by and starred Jane Cowl on Broadway. Jane, Norma, and Jeanette play Kathleen and her aunt Moonyean. Moonyean was the love of John Carteret and was killed literally at the church altar on her wedding day by a jealous suitor Jeremy Wayne. Years later her niece Kathleen comes to live with her aunt's brokenhearted fiancé Carteret. And wouldn't you know it, she falls in love with Kenneth Wayne, son of the homicidal Jeremy.

One thing though that neither Jane Cowl or Norma Shearer could bring to the dual part was Jeanette MacDonald's soprano. The musical gene was passed down in this family if the homicidal one wasn't passed down in the Wayne family. Jeanette sings some wonderful standards identified with the British Isles like the title song, Drink to Me Only With Thine Eyes, The Kerry Dance, There's a Long Long Trail a Winding, and Just a Little Love, a Little Kiss. But my favorite is Land of Hope and Glory sung at a church service here and marched to by thousands of graduating classes on both sides of the Atlantic.

If Jeanette's acting wasn't up to snuff, there wasn't anything wrong with her singing voice. But perhaps maybe only her fans should be looking to watch Smilin' Through.

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