28 May 2017 | AlsExGal
Worth it if only for the novelty of seeing a very young Donald O'Connor
This film featured Crosby, Fred MacMurray and a 13-year old Donald O'Connor (!) as a trio of brothers who sing, dance and play instruments to bring money into their household. Their mother, played by Elizabeth "Miss Trumbull" Patterson, is widowed and has spent all the money her husband left her on paying for music lessons for her sons. MacMurray also works as a mechanic at a garage, a job he prefers over singing. Crosby plays one of those ne'er-do-well types who is always at the track trying to win money or some other money making scheme in lieu of actually holding down a 9-5 job. Mother Patterson desperately wishes Crosby would follow the lead of the responsible MacMurray. O'Connor plays their kid brother who just wants to be a kid and doesn't want the pressure of having to perform in order to earn money to support the family. All three of the brothers express disdain for having to be singers, stating that "they want to be men", whatever that meant in 1938.
It was crazy seeing Donald O'Connor as a child in this film. He got to do a little bit of hoofing, mostly while holding an accordion. MacMurray "plays" the clarinet (not sure if he was actually playing or not, I know MacMurray played saxophone) and Crosby sings. MacMurray also sang at one point, but his voice was not as good (obviously) as Crosby's.
One thing I think is strange in studio era films is the trend of having the lead actor/actress playing an oldest sibling who is at least 20 years older than all the other siblings. In this film, Crosby's character has to at least be in his 30s and I'm guessing MacMurray's character was probably supposed to be a little bit younger, but probably late 20s - early 30s. Then there's O'Connor who is only 13 and looks it. Why the huge age difference? Patterson looks like she could be the brothers' grandmother! I also thought it was odd that the racetrack would allow a 13-year old to be a jockey.