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  • 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.
  • For me this film goes in the excellent group because I find myself coming back to it over and over again. The storyline is uncomplicated and perhaps predictable, but the content of the story is a very worthwhile glimpse of a young boy's life during one eventful summer which starts at a boys' camp in Maine. Chip (Bobby Breen) and Pee Wee (Billy Lee) and the other boys make the story forever delightful. Here a young boy, Chip, feels keenly that his happy life is about to be invaded, and he is intent on changing the course of events. With a truly sincere heart and boyish cunning he sets his plan in motion. He is always more clever but also more polite than the adult antagonists he confronts. There is much to love and much to enjoy in this story. The boys in particular are excellent in their parts, nicely developing individual characters. The singing is wonderful, as are the very meaningful expressions on Bobby Breen's face.
  • Young Bobby Breen poaches a bit on Deanna Durbin's territory in this film, Make A Wish. Usually Deanna was acting like little Miss Fix-It in her films and was often trying to matchmake for a parent while contributing a song or two. Well Breen at that age certainly had the soprano that Deanna had.

    He comes by it naturally as his mother is concert/operetta singer Mary Clare. She's engaged to one stuffy drip played by Ralph Forbes who wants her to give up her career as he does not like show business.

    Breen is in summer camp in Maine which just happens to be located across the lake from composer Basil Rathbone's place where he lives with butler/factotum Donald Meek. Rathbone who played the exact same role in Rhythm On The River has lost his creative muse and Breen and later Clare inspire him. But Forbes is determined to quash all that.

    Make A Wish is a pleasant enough film featuring not only Bobby's soprano, but Mary Clare in her one and only film. Years ago I remember seeing an adult Breen on an interview, it might have been Joe Franklin's program, where he said that Rathbone got along well with him and the other kids in the cast.

    I also enjoyed Henry Armetta and Leon Errol as a pair of Tin Pan Alley hack composers who really stink up the screen with their awful music. Still a nice family film although God knows the type of music done here is terribly dated.
  • This musical is mostly pleasant, but is almost entirely predictable after the first few minutes. Everything is watchable, but that's all. Basil Rathbone seems pretty well cast as an eccentric composer, but the plot does not give him all that much to do. Bobby Breen is likable as a young boy at camp, and there are some fairly amusing moments from some of Rathbone's associates. It's easy to pull for the main characters, but any excitement or real interest is dissipated by the completely routine story-line. It's an average musical, no more and no less.
  • boblipton5 January 2019
    Bobby Breen is at camp where he meets Basil Rathbone. Rathbone is trying to write an opera. When Bobby's mother, Marion Claire comes to visit, Bobby tries to play matchmaker, but she already has an understanding with another man, who wants her to retire from the stage. Rathbone decides to go away, while his valet, Donald Meek, along with Henry Armetta and Leon Errol punch up the score.

    It's a thoroughly innocuous and pleasant musical, with Bobby Breen singing several songs, while opera star (and concert violinist) Marion Claire sings the title song twice. She's one of several opera stars who tried out for Hollywood stardom, but this was her only venture into the field.

    It's also a rare movie venture for Gertrude Berg, better known for writing and starring in radio's THE GOLDBERGS for twenty years. RKO had four writers (including Al Boasberg) punch up her script, which lends it a rather disjointed air. Still, Breen is a fine boy tenor, and that's what this movie is about in the end.
  • MartinHafer20 December 2017
    Chip (Bobby Breen) is off enjoying summer camp. During his time there, he meets a composer, Johnny Seldon (Basil Rathbone), who is vacationing nearby and the two strike up a friendship. Chip convinces Johnny he needs to hear his mother sing, as she has a gorgeous voice and would be great in his new operetta. When Johnny meets her and hears her sing, he's inspired and insists she star in his show. But when her fiance insists that she not return to the stage, Johnny's heart is broken and Chip is not happy about having this guy as his potential step-father. So, he decides to play cupid and he hopes to get his mother and Johnny together by the end of the story.

    Back in the 1930s and early 40s, Bobby Breen was a most unusual movie star. For a small child, he had an incredible voice...so incredible that he later quit films and went on to be a professional singer. As far as his films go, despite being relatively low budgeted, they had a certain likability about them...mostly because Breen seemed like such a sweet kid. This film is no different...with some very catchy songs and Breen once again cute and likable. And, in addition, this time the boy is given better than usual support. While oddly cast, Basil Rathbone is quite nice as the nice-guy composer.

    The only thing about this pleasant film I didn't like was the mother's singing...it was even more high pitched than Bobby's and was a bit hard to take. Also, while not a bad thing, the way Chip and Johnny met in the film was a bit creepy by today's standards....with Johnny catching Chips bathing suit and the boy naked in the water asking a stranger for his clothing. In the day, it was a cute scene...today folks might be a big creeped out by it, sadly.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Allegedly copyright 1937 by Bobby Breen Productions, Inc., but in point of fact the film was never copyrighted at all. Principal Productions, released through RKO Radio Pictures. New York opening at the Rivoli: 22 September 1937. U.S. release: 27 August 1937. Australian release: December 1937. 77 minutes.

    SYNOPSIS: Boy singer meets a composer at summer camp and determines to play Cupid for his widowed mother.

    COMMENT: The first two-thirds of this film, set in a Maine summer camp, are more interesting and believable than the final section involving a complicated, grotesque and completely unfunny comic relief plot that veers quite unconvincingly into totally dramatic territory.

    The Donald Meek character, an amusing figure of fun in the first section suddenly assumes a Macbeth mantle, assisted by two equally ambitious but even more incompetently disingenuous stooges (Armetta and Errol).

    What's worse, the long-awaited Broadway premiere of the operetta turns out to be an over-staged yet rather inartistic production that strains the ear as well as the eye. This overblown climax is all the more disappointing considering the charmingly natural way the Maine scenes were written, acted and presented.

    It's true that the process screen was occasionally ill-used, particularly in a boat sequence with Claire and Forbes, but most of this Maine section was attractively filmed with the principals actually present in picturesque natural locations. Director Neumann handles these scenes with a gentle sensitivity, an engagingly light touch which does not contrast so agreeably with the heavy-handed climax.

    All the same, Master Breen rises to the change of direction nobly, though Marion Claire seems more ill-at-ease. As for Rathbone of course, it doesn't matter a whit because he doesn't appear in the last third of the film at all until right at the very end. His otherwise total absence will certainly disappoint his fans, especially as he plays with such charm a rare sympathetic romantic role and even sings a few words of the title tune before Master Breen takes it over. His scenes with Donald Meek are reasonably amusing too. Despite the thinness of his material, Basil's facile delivery makes his dialogue seem much more light and airy than it actually is.

    True, Rathbone is not always flatteringly photographed -- but then neither is radio singing star Marion Claire, here making her one and only movie appearance. She handles the role with sufficient charisma to suggest a bright future in films.

    As for some of the other players, however, it's a surprise that Errol managed to live down his miscasting here and go on to a very popular career with RKO. And the same comment applies to Donald Meek and to a lesser extent Henry Armetta (who did spend most of his time in small roles because of his inability to handle a larger part like the one he's given here).

    All told, despite its last-reel disappointments, an entertaining and agreeable film. And as it seems to be the only Bobby Breen movie at present available on commercial DVD, it's a must-see both for Breen and Rathbone fans.