The real Lillian Russell was far more interesting than the woman presented in this padded film (at more than two hours, it's a good deal longer than most Fox musicals). Young Helen Leonard (Alice Faye) moves with her family to New York City after the Civil War. There she takes singing
lessons, and is overheard one day by Tony Pastor (Leo Carrillo), a well-known impresario, who hires her to sing in his theater. He changes her name to Lillian Russell, and she is soon the toast of New York, although the distractions of success aren't enough to make her forget Alexander Moore
(Henry Fonda), a young man who once saved her life. Time passes and she has shows written for her and products named after her, plus a host of suitors, including wealthy Jesse Lewisohn (Warren William), Diamond Jim Brady (Edward Arnold, who'd starred in DIAMOND JIM five years before), and Edward
Solomon (Don Ameche), a quiet young musician. Marrying Solomon, she goes off to London, where Gilbert and Sullivan (Nigel Bruce and Claud Allister) are hard at work creating a show for her and where Moore, now a newspaperman, reenters her life, writing articles about the star. When Solomon dies,
however, she grows deeply depressed, refusing any further interviews, and leaves Europe. Later Russell, by now a living legend, meets Moore again while performing in the US, and they marry. Beautifully photographed, with wonderful costumes and sensational sets (it earned an Oscar nomination for
interior decoration), the film features Faye singing several Russell standards, but drags its feet dramatically. Tunes from a fleet of songwriters include: "The Band Played On," "After the Ball," "My Blushin' Rose," "Come Down, Ma Evenin' Star," "Blue Love Bird," "Waltz Is King," "Adored One,"
"Comin' Thro' the Rye," "Back in the Old Days of Old Broadway," and "He Goes To Church on Sunday."
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- Rating: NR
- Review: The real Lillian Russell was far more interesting than the woman presented in this padded film (at more than two hours, it's a good deal longer than most Fox musicals). Young Helen Leonard (Alice Faye) moves with her family to New York City after the Civil… (more)