Studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck did plenty of searching for the female lead for this entertaining, though fundamentally fictitious, story of songwriter Paul Dreiser, brother of novelist Theodore Dreiser, who penned the novel on which this screenplay is based. Before deciding upon Rita
Hayworth--based upon her strong work in BLOOD AND SAND and YOU'LL NEVER GET RICH--Zanuck tried to give the role to Alice Faye, Irene Dunne, Mae West, and Betty Grable. Then, to get even with Carole Landis, who'd refused a part in BLOOD AND SAND, Zanuck cast her in a throwaway supporting role here.
Victor Mature, as the songwriter, is better than most people expected, though his strong performance shouldn't have been a surprise since he'd first gained notice on the Broadway musical stage in "Lady in the Dark." The film follows Paul as he leaves Indiana, changes his name, joins a medicine
show, then heads to New York where he takes up with musical star Sally Elliott (Hayworth, whose singing is dubbed by Nan Wynn), with whom he has the usual arguments en route to a happy union. In time, Dreiser becomes the rage of Tin Pan Alley, penning "My Gal Sal"--though, in reality, it was the
last song he wrote, composed about a year before his death at age 46.
Only a few of Dreiser's songs are actually used, but MY GAL SAL offers excellent choreography (co-choreographer Hermes Pan dances with Hayworth), gorgeous costumes, Oscar-winning art and set decoration, and good comedy from Phil Silvers, James Gleason, and Walter Catlett. In a small role as
Carrie, look for Terry Moore (billed as Judy Ford). The score, which was nominated for an Academy Award, includes the tunes "Come Tell Me What's Your Answer (Yes or No)," "On the Banks of the Wabash," "I'se Your Honey, if You Wants Me, Liza Jane," "The Convict and the Bird," "Mr. Volunteer," and,
of course, "My Gal Sal" (by Dreiser). The songs by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger include: "On the Gay White Way," "Me and My Fella," "Here You Are," "Midnight at the Masquerade," and "Oh, the Pity of it All." Charles Graham wrote "Two Little Girls in Blue" and Harry Dacre penned "Daisy Bell" to
round out the music.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Studio mogul Darryl F. Zanuck did plenty of searching for the female lead for this entertaining, though fundamentally fictitious, story of songwriter Paul Dreiser, brother of novelist Theodore Dreiser, who penned the novel on which this screenplay is based… (more)