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  • I saw this film on AMC one rainy Sunday afternoon last month. I saw that it was listed as a musical and, not being a huge fan of the genre, I was a bit apprehensive. But, I did get hooked on it after about 10 minutes or so and watched the entire thing. Even worse.. I LOVED it!! It was a charming and funny film that I recommend to all those who love a good black and white movie afternoon.
  • Anna Neagle was one of the United Kingdom's brightest musical stars. She and Jessie Matthews seem to just about corner the market on British musical comedy leading ladies. What films Neagle didn't do, Matthews did.

    However unlike Matthews, Neagle came over to try her luck on the other side of the pond. Irene was one of the ones she did her in a deal with RKO that also included her husband, producer/director Herbert Wilcox.

    Irene was a successful musical comedy that was updated from post World War I to pre World War II America. On Broadway it had a run of 675 performances during the 1919-1921 seasons. It concerns a young Irish working class girl who gets innocently trapped in a fashion store publicity stunt by Ray Milland who's smitten with her. Store manager Roland Young aids and abets.

    The film is makes the twenty year transition well. Most of the score is heard in the background or as show numbers. The two songs that Neagle does, Irene and Alice Blue Gown were the big hits of the original show.

    Irene is a pleasant enough film, it's too bad that the American movie public didn't see more of Anna Neagle.
  • "Irene" is very entrancing screen version of Joseph Tierney and Harry McCarthy's 1919 stage musical, glossily directed and produced by Herbert Wilcox. I happened to catch it the other night, and I loved it. I was entranced by the charm of the actors -- and the songs, while not first-rate, are quite pleasing. Anna Neagle stars as whimsical Irish sales girl Irene O'Dare who is introduced into Long Island's high society culture, and becomes infatuated with two suitors, Ray Milland and Alan Marshall. Billie Burke plays their mother who becomes impressed with Irene, turns her into a celebrity sensation in "Madame Lucy" dress collection. May Robson is very memorable as the irrepressible Granny; so is Roland Young as Milland's partner in business. The highlight is the sumptuous ball sequence shot in Technicolor, "Alice Blue Gown", where Irene, dressed in blue, is waltzing with Milland in a very tuneful number. The other songs include, "You've Got Me Out on a Limb", "There's Something in the Air", "Worthy of You", and "Irene". Enjoyable stuff.
  • The music and dance of this musical comedy are well integrated with the story so I never got the feeling it stemmed from a 1919 show; the writers must have modified it considerably to avoid the "bursting-into-song" syndrome that was prevalent at the time, and which always bothers me. The actors are fun to watch, and some of the songs, headed by "Alice Blue Gown" are very memorable. I got a big kick out of the spoof of the Alice-Blue-Gown rage that was sweeping the country. It comes in the form of a movie called "Rex Gordon's Moviebone News" (a take-off on Movietone News, for those who are too young to know) which all the principals watch in a packed movie theater. In that film, we are treated with very heavy-set Hattie Noel in her Alice Blue Gown strutting her stuff, while other black actors and actresses, some in similar gowns, sing and dance. Three of the singers were The Dandridge Sisters, which included Dorothy Dandridge, a very pleasant surprise. The whole sequence was a pleasure to watch, despite the little screen time given to the Sisters.
  • Watching this delightful movie I was captivated by the beautiful Anna Neagle. While watching the early part of the movie and appreciating more and more the beauty of Miss Neagle, and the beautiful dresses she was modeling, I wished that this was a movie that they would convert to Technicolor. Lo and behold suddenly the movie becomes Technicolor and the vivid red hair and Alice blue gown come alive. Her graceful movements in the dancing and modeling are memorable. I have seen some comments that her dancing was not first class but I do not recall a more alluring dance than her solo dance on the patio near the movie's end. Unfortunately at this time the movie has reverted to black and white but this detracts little from the beautiful Anna. Of course the music is dated but this movie taken as a whole is a musical comedy classic.
  • Anna Neagle was never one of my favorites. She was one of those oh-so-ladylike actresses that you just couldn't picture doing things us mere mortals do every day without thinking. However, in the early 40's, the British actress was Americanized for three musical films based upon old Broadway shows. "Irene" was the first of the three (followed by remakes of "No No Nanette" and "Sunny"), and by far the most charming. As the oh-so-Irish Irene O'Dare, Neagle becomes a superstar overnight when she shows up at a Long Island party wearing an old gown of her grandmother's (that salty old favorite May Robson) that has eyes all aglow. Dashing Ray Milland and her dizzy mother (Billie Burke) are instantly taken with her, and she is soon a celebrity. They believe her to be related to European blue-bloods, not realizing she is a simple working girl. Only Milland and his business partner (Roland Young as "Madame Lucy", the apparent designer of the "Alice Blue Gown") know the truth.

    I was familiar with the score thanks to a recording of the 1973 revival with Debbie Reynolds; most of the songs are either cut or given minor arrangements, with the exception of "Alice Blue Gown" which is turned into a cute production number filled with a variety of different races wearing the outfit. Hattie Noel and the Dandridge sisters are given the bulk of the production number, while Neagle earlier sang it to her grandmother and sisters. Neagle's singing voice, while not bad, is no Jeanette MacDonald; It is hard to believe that she was one of Britain's most popular musical stars. Her acting, however, is pretty good, and she is most convincing as an Irish lass. Milland is handsome and quite charming; He is the perfect leading man. Billie Burke and Roland Young (reunited from the "Topper" series as well as several others) are good as well, and May Robson is always a delight. (The Broadway musical for those who are interested featured Monte Markham in the Milland role, and Ruth Warrick, Billy DeWolfe, and Patsy Kelly in the Burke, Young, and Robson roles respectively).

    RKO went all out for the production design of the film, giving it a marvelous art deco look. It is equal in design to any of the Astaire/Rogers musicals, and just as charming. The only thing I disliked was the lack of music; I wanted a production number of the rousing title song which gets more attention as background music than as a musical number. Still, as a comedy with music, "Irene" is very well done, and being taken from that point of view makes it a film worth viewing.
  • OK--must confess that I have not seen the entire movie; only saw the last 40 minutes or so, and look forward to getting to see the whole thing soon (which is why I didn't vote yet, though what I saw of it would rate an eight or nine). It is one of those sweet, charming (without cloying--it has some wit to it) movies RKO did so well (Ginger Rogers' 5th AVENUE GIRL is another I recently saw--thank goodness for Turner Classic Movies).

    Towards the end of this movie, Ray Milland's character discovers Anna Neagle's Irene dancing by herself, lost in thought and emotion. He and we watch, unperceived by Irene, and the dance was an unexpected delight. While the choreography could have used more variation (certain moves are repeated too much, and some of them have her shoulders up more than is ideal), Anna N. proves herself a graceful, expressive dancer; I hope to see more of her dancing, if it exists in films. The beginning of the dance also uses subtle slow-motion to good effect, which it occurred to me I haven't seen often, if at all, in musicals from this era. I wonder why that wasn't used more, as it would seem to be a relatively easy effect to employ. Anyway, I recommend IRENE, and look forward to taking my own recommendation to see the rest of it soon.
  • The musical Irene opened in 1919 and was revived in 1973, starring Debbie Reynolds.

    The basic story is the same as in this film, and similar to the 1926 film of the same name.

    Irene O'Dare (Anna Neagle), on an errand for her employers, goes to the home of Mrs. Vincent (Billie Burke) and meets Don (Ray Milland), a friend of Mrs. Vincent's son Bob (Alan Marshal).

    Don suggests that she try out as a model in the "Madame Lucy" dress shop. For good measure, he invests in the shop himself. However, Irene isn't sure she wants the job after the store manager makes a pass. Don fires the manager and puts in another one, Smith (Roland Young), who visits Irene at her home and asks her to work for him.

    Irene is a smash hit as a model, and Smith assigns her the most beautiful gown to wear at Mrs. Vincent's charity ball. Unfortunately, some Irish stew wrecks it. Irene goes anyway, wearing a stunning blue gown that belonged to her mother, and knocks everyone's socks off.

    A guest at the ball, Princess Minetti, believes Irene is related to one Lady O'Dare, and Irene doesn't correct her.

    Smith decides Irene is perfect for a publicity campaign to put the dress shop on the map. He sets Irene up in a Park Avenue suite, passing her off as the niece of Lady O'Dare. This way, she will be invited to social functions and wear the shop's beautiful gowns.

    When a jealous fellow model tells a newspaper columnist that Irene is really shanty Irish, all hell breaks loose.

    This is a nice musical, and Anna Neagle is lovely. She was an enormous stage and screen star in Britain and even has a street named after her. She did musicals and drama up until 1985. For 15 years, she was in the top 10 of biggest British box office stars. In this she dances, sings, and acts beautifully and looks wonderful in all of the gowns.

    Good cast, well directed, a pleasant musical, and a good chance to see Anna Neagle, a British treasure.
  • edwagreen19 November 2014
    Warning: Spoilers
    Wonderful romantic comedy with divine music and a wonderful Anna Neagle showcase this 1940 film.

    While it is certainly not Cinderella or My Fair Lady, a furniture upholsterer enters into the lives of the wealthy on Long Island and rises in the fashion world and to upper society as well.

    Billie Burke, for a change doesn't sound like her usual self, plays a society matron and mother of one of Neagle's suitors. May Robson, as Neagle's grandmother, steals every scene she is in with her tough Irish brogue and mannerisms.

    Ray Milland, the secret owner of the dress company, is charming and so very debonair in the role of the second suitor.

    There is a brief hint of an anti Irish attitude shown in the form of prejudice by the head of the models who slips nasty information about Irene to a newspaper columnist.

    The scene of the ball shown in Technicolor is ravishing.
  • This is the film version of a play that premiered more than twenty years earlier (1919), and boy does the story show its age! The title character is so good-golly-gosh wholesome you'll either want to laugh or just haul off and smack her. This being my first introduction to Anna Naegle, I can only hope it was the character and not a limited acting range. She's the anti-femme-fatale, and that could not have been good for her career in the coming years in Hollywood.

    That being said, it's not such a bad little film with pros like Ray Milland and Billie Burke in the cast. The opening credits with marionettes flipping cue cards is cute, but it sets a more comedic tone than this film can deliver. I will say it is fun checking out the fashions of the era, not to mention the interior designs, and the story touches on class differences without the film really making any kind of statement about them. It may be a little too-cute for its own good, but it's worth a look if you're curious.
  • Don Marshall (Ray Milland) is rich...really, really rich. And he's met a nice young lady, Irene (Anna Neagle) and wants to see her happy and successful. So, he buys a fancy fashion studio and gets her hired as one of their models...and she has no idea that Don is helping her not that he is 'Madame Lucy', the 'lady' who owns the shop! Soon, Irene goes from a poor working girl to the rage of society, as there is a mix up and folks think she's related to some rich O'Dare family back in Ireland. In the meantime, one of Don's friends, Bob (Alan Marshall) has also fallen for Irene. Who will end up with her at the end?

    This is a mildly enjoyable comedy-romance. Nothing stands out other than the acting, though the film is an enjoyable time-passer. Nice...but that's about it.
  • Very glad I caught this old-timer. I am a fan of musicals, especially good ones, and this one was good. It is also old and was on Broadway in 1926, according to the website. According to Maltin, most of the music of the original has been left out, but what remains was very good; The title song, "Alice Blue Gown" and especially a number I never heard of before, "You've Got Me Out On A Limb", a lame title but very tuneful. The 'Alice' number was done several times, including a jitterbug version by an all-black ensemble, which was bizarre. The plot, in a nutshell, was a lovers triangle, between Ray Milland, Anna Neagle and Alan Marshal and they were ably supported by some of Hollywood's best second line actors, May Robson, Roland Young and Arthur Treacher among them. It is a musical with some light comedy and the whole effect was enchanting, to dust off an old-fashioned word. Do yourself a favor next time it's on - it's worth your time if you're a fan of 'charming old musicals'.
  • rmax3048233 June 2016
    Warning: Spoilers
    It seems to have been powerful entertainment when it opened as a play in 1919, and why not? There's nothing offensive about it, there are a few amusing moments, and some tunes that have lingered in musical memory like pressed flowers. You'll recognize them when you hear them, not necessarily the names, but the melodies. "Irene" is constantly used as the theme. And "Alice Blue Gown" is even more endearing when you realize the eponymous color was named after Teddy Roosevelt's daughter Alice.

    But, overall, what a bore. In 1940, the circumstances, the social conditions of the play, were only twenty-one years behind the audience. That's not very far. Twenty-one years ago, as I'm writing this, Timothy McVeigh blew up the federal building in Oklahoma City, there was an Ebola outbreak in Africa, Windows 95 and Javascript were introduced, and "Die Hard With a Vengeance" was playing in theaters. The good folks of 1940 could remember bustles as easily as we can remember Whitney Houston and Michael Jordan.

    The audience could get with "Irene" but I had trouble. I haven't got the slightest interest in fashions, in class endogamy, or in haute couture. It was cute, what with the stereotypical Irish family, featuring Anna Neagle, and the aristocratic Proddies, featuring Ray Milland, but it had no substance, no comedy really except the most innocent sort -- cute, you know? -- and no bite, a kind of cinematic cotton candy. Somebody with a different sense of humor, Howard Hawks or Ernst Lubitsch, might have twisted it into shape.

    However, I can understand its appeal for some people, in the middle of these turbulent times.
  • Based on a 1919 Broadway musical hit, and transferred reasonably faithfully to the screen, with much underscoring from the Harry Tierney-Joseph McCarthy original. But only three songs remain, leaving acres of unprepossessing light comedy about a shanty-Irish colleen who lucks into modeling and is courted by friendly rich boys Ray Milland and Alan Marshal. The plotting here goes far awry. Alan Marshal spends the whole movie lusting after Anna Neagle, only to declare in the last reel he really loves Marsha Hunt, only because the screenwriters are desperate to have Neagle end up with Milland. Some nice things happen: a whole reel in Technicolor, to show off Neagle's Alice Blue Gown, and one of Billie Burke's best society-flibbertigibbet turns, and Roland Young exuding wry bemusement. And Neagle has a lovely solo dance near the end, about absolutely nothing. But one does spend an awful lot of time wishing they'd get on with it, and wondering where the stage score went.