28 December 2002 | inclass
Under-Rated Musical with Talented Cast
It goes without saying that a musical which is centered around a summer boys' camp can only come off well if (a) the young actors portraying the campers can hold their own with the likes of adult actor Basil Rathbone and (b) if the music featured in the film is truly enjoyable and well performed. It's no wonder that this film was nominated in 1938 for "Best Music, Score", as the music featured throughout is both original and delightful.
As for the young cast members, both Bobby Breen (Chip) and Billy Lee (Pee Wee) were accomplished singers and musicians as kids, and by the time this movie was filmed, they both already had a great deal of stage experience which included vaudeville appearances between their films, aside from the live appearances they both made to promote their films. In the summer of 1938, Sara Hamilton of Photoplay Magazine interviewed Billy Lee. She writes, "Billy was the lad the audiences cheered in Bobby Breen's picture, 'Make A Wish'." However, the professionalism that both boys show in this film as singers and actors, along with the rest of the talented young cast, together with Rathbone (composer, Seldon) and Marion Claire (Chip's mother, a singer for whom Seldon composes his musical) adds up to much more than a run of the mill musical, but to a wonderful movie with a lot of heart.
Among other songs, Breen and Billy Lee are featured in a duet, singing "Polly Wolly Doodle", and Billy supports Breen's lead vocal on the film's most memorable number, "My Campfire Dreams". Singer Marion Claire shines in her operatic vocal numbers, and in her own duet with Breen. This was her only feature film apppearance. Bobby Breen appeared and sang in 8 feature films, plus made a cameo appearance in the film "Johnny Doughboy". Billy Lee appeared in over 40 feature films which featured his various skills as a dancer, musician, singer and actor, and among them, he had a number of starring roles, including "The Biscuit Eater", "War Dogs" and "Reg'lar Fellers", then left acting at age 13.