In the previous year, Warner Brothers made the very successful "Four Daughters"...so successful that they made this sort-of follow-up film! Now at first I didn't know that they'd completely messed with the plot and was worried--after all, I saw that it starred John Garfield and he clearly died at the end of "Four Daughters"!! Could his character be a zombie? No, it's just that the studio threw all continuity into the toilet!! Now the loving father is NOT the loving father but a deadbeat dad who has been gone for years. And, now their dead mother (!!) is taking care of the four sisters--because she certainly WAS dead in the first film! I really wish they'd just started off with a new story, as all this was confusing. Some characters (like for fours sisters, the boyfriends and the Aunt--who is now just a maid) were returning from the first film, some were not. And, oddly, the location changed and the sisters are no longer so musically inclined!! Confusing, confusing, confusing!!! And, I am sure audiences at the time must have thought the same thing. Despite all my obvious confusion (after all, I'd just seen the previous film that same evening), I stuck with it.
The film begins with Priscilla meeting an extremely annoying man (Garfield) who just seems like a user and jerk. In the previous film, he was brooding and negative. Here, he is more like a bum. Why, once again, Priscilla's character is attracted to him is confusing--and a bad message to the women in the audience.
Next, in the completely re-written home you learn that the mother (Fay Bainter) is going to get remarried to a nice, responsible man (Donald Crisp). However, completely unexpectedly, Bainter's first husband (Claude Rains) just shows up--after having disappeared 20 years earlier! Oddly, while the welcome is not warm, no one asks him where the heck he's been all this time! It was sad, really, seeing this as in the first film Rains played a marvelous father--here he is a manipulative slug. And, confusing once again, he slowly wins back his daughters' love one at a time--after all, he's inexplicably such a nice guy. It's all too easy, if you ask me. How can such a selfish lout suddenly become this sweet guy?! Now, had he sprung a trap in the end and somehow cheated the family out of their home or something, then this sort of plot would have made sense! The bottom line with this film is that although the acting was very good, the film had a nice Warner Brothers polish and there were enjoyable parts to the script, the characters and continuity never made sense. Overall, the film is confusing and dumb...how could the studio have gotten it so wrong?!
By the way, a more direct sequel to "Four Daughters" came out shortly AFTER "Daughters Courageous"! "Four Wives" picks up, sort of, after the first film with the same musical family from the 1938 film.