7.9/10
48
7 user

Mister Big (1943)

Passed | | Comedy, Music | 28 May 1943 (USA)
At the Davis School of the Theatre, run by Jeremy Taswell, where teen-age kids study drama and the serious arts, instructors Johnny Hanley and Alice Taswell are in love. The students, ... See full summary »

Director:

Charles Lamont

Writers:

Dorothy Bennett (screenplay), Jack Pollexfen (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
Reviews

Photos

Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

When Jimmie Monahan's father is absent to aid the war effort, young Jimmie works hard to lift his family's spirits. Finding he has a dancing and musical talent he organizes a show at the nearby aircraft plant to raise morale.

Director: Charles Lamont
Stars: Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, Jack Oakie
Comedy | Drama | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

18-year-old Angela, reared in a New England town by her Aunt Betsy, receives an inheritance which she uses to go to New York, ostensibly for voice training, but she is pursuing Major Hilary... See full summary »

Director: Felix E. Feist
Stars: Donald O'Connor, Susanna Foster, Peggy Ryan
Top Man (1943)
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  

Musical in which a family puts on a show to boost the morale of the local factory workers.

Director: Charles Lamont
Stars: Donald O'Connor, Susanna Foster, Lillian Gish
Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The son of a strict Navy officer falls for the daughter of a musical-comedy star.

Director: Charles Lamont
Stars: Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, Ann Blyth
Comedy | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

During World War II, all the studios put out "all-star" vehicles which featured virtually every star on the lot--often playing themselves--in musical numbers and comedy skits, and were ... See full summary »

Directors: A. Edward Sutherland, John Rawlins
Stars: George Raft, Vera Zorina, Grace McDonald
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.6/10 X  

Private detective Johnny Fletcher and his sidekick Sam Cragg skip out on their rented room, but when they sneak back to retrieve their luggage, they discover a dead body on the bed, holding... See full summary »

Director: Walter Colmes
Stars: Albert Dekker, Mike Mazurki, Evelyn Ankers
Beau Geste (1939)
Certificate: Passed Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

Three adopted English brothers join the French Foreign Legion in North Africa, after one of them steals their adoptive family's famous heirloom sapphire.

Director: William A. Wellman
Stars: Gary Cooper, Ray Milland, Robert Preston
Comedy | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

Talented youngster Pat Donahue is working in the Berkshires. He learns of a great part in New York City and auditions. But after winning the role he finds out it was originally intended for... See full summary »

Director: Frank Ryan
Stars: Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, Frances Dee
Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

Orphan prodigy singer runs away from her oppressive aunt and tricks a rural couple into adopting her.

Director: Charles Lamont
Stars: Gloria Jean, Donald O'Connor, Jane Frazee
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Donald O'Connor ... Donald J. O'Connor, Esq.
Gloria Jean ... Patricia
Peggy Ryan ... Peggy
Robert Paige ... Johnny Hanley
Elyse Knox ... Alice Taswell
Samuel S. Hinds ... Jeremy Taswell
Robert Scheerer Robert Scheerer ... Bobby (as Bobby Scheerer)
Richard Stewart Richard Stewart ... Genius
Elinor Donahue ... Muggsy (as Mary Eleanor Donahue)
Florence Bates ... Mrs. Mary Davis
Ray Eberle Ray Eberle ... Ray Eberle
Eddie Miller Eddie Miller ... Leader, Eddie Miller's Bob Cats (as Eddie Miller's Bob Cats)
Ben Carter ... Ben Carter - Choir Leader (as The Ben Carter Choir)
The Jivin' Jacks and Jills ... Dancing Ensemble
Ben Carter Choir Ben Carter Choir ... Vocal Ensemble
Edit

Storyline

At the Davis School of the Theatre, run by Jeremy Taswell, where teen-age kids study drama and the serious arts, instructors Johnny Hanley and Alice Taswell are in love. The students, including Donald, Patricia and Peggy, secretly want to become singers. Patricia's aunt, Mrs. Davis, owns the school and disapproves. Donald has written a musical comedy for the year's class play, which the students want to do; but Mrs. Davis has selected and insists they do Sophocles' "Antigone." Taswell agrees to let the kids do Donald's show. Donald manages to keep Mrs. Davis away on the day of the show, and when Broadway producers in attendance rave about Donald's play, she becomes a backer. Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Music

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
Edit

Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

28 May 1943 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

School for Jive See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universal Pictures See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

First appearance on film of Elinor Donahue (under her then name of Mary Eleanor Donahue) as "Muggsy." Fresh from vaudeville this then seven year old actress would later co-star on Father Knows Best as daughter Betty "Princess" Anderson as well as many other series and films. See more »

Quotes

Donald J. O'Connor, Esq.: Are you sure it'll work?
Patricia: I read it in a large and imposing book.
See more »

Soundtracks

Rude, Crude and Unattractive
(uncredited)
Written by Buddy Pepper and Inez James
Sung by Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

 
Enjoyable aside from some stunning racism
2 December 2009 | by athousandchurchesSee all my reviews

As a fan of musicals in general and Donald O'Connor in specific, I was all set to enjoy my first dive into the teen musicals he made with Universal in the 1940s. Mister Big turned out the be incredibly enjoyable in some respects, and incredibly cringe-worthy in others.

On the one hand, the performances are generally top-notch, the one-liners are that wonderful mix of hokey and enjoyable, and Donald wears some ridiculous clothing. (Am I the only person who wants to tell him to stop trying on his father's suits? They all look so big on him!) The entire movie is worth buying just for the opportunity to watch Peggy Ryan kick Donald O'Connor in the face in "Rude, Crude, and Unattractive"--the play violence is half the gimmick in their dancing, but that song goes above and beyond the usual. O'Connor's interpretation of Hamlet's soliloquy is likewise charming, and Gloria Jean's solos are a delight.

On the other hand, there are some painfully racist scenes--I'm honestly surprised the other reviews haven't mentioned them. There's an entire number in blackface, and a group of black children are allowed the opportunity to perform with the lily-white main cast in the final number...from a hayloft. Because, of course, people of colour performing in a stable-like setting doesn't imply that they're animal-like at all. Insert eye rolling here.

I'd love to see Mister Big and all the rest of the hep musicals released on commercial DVD someday in a proper boxed set. Even if they're imperfect, these films need to be preserved for study and enjoyment (because really, the less racist moments are worth watching multiple times). However, if the other titles in the O'Connor/Ryan/Jean catalogue contain such blatant racism as is found in this one, I can understand why Universal's been hesitant to put these to press.

My 8/10 rating is for the parts of the film that didn't make me cringe from the unrepentant blackface and marginalization of the blacks in the cast. Including those parts, my rating goes down significantly.


3 of 5 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 7 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page

IMDb Freedive: Watch Movies and TV Series for Free

Watch Hollywood hits and TV favorites for free with IMDb Freedive. Start streaming on IMDb and Fire TV devices today!

Start watching



Recently Viewed