One of the many 'period' musicals produced by several studios in the '40s and '50s. At least several of the songs were composed around the 1910 period, to conform with the late Victorian screenplay. Even the one song performance that caught the public's imagination sufficiently to become a top pop song : "Aba Daba Honeymoon", was composed in 1914, then forgotten. I don't know if Fred Flintstone's "Yaba Daba Doo" is derived from this title, but the resemblance is clear. ..Warning the corn grows high in this film!
The Robinsons are an upper class Victorian family, composed of 17 y.o. Patti(Jane), 15y.o. Melba(Debbie) and two much younger boys, one played by Tommy Rettig, who would later become well known via the TV Lassie series. Incidentally, Tommy would go on to have a very diverse life, besides his show biz period, including marijuana grower, and, in his later years, an important software developer!...The Robinsons are getting ready for their annual Catskills summer vacation: a ritual of many upper class Easterners in this pre-air conditioning era. The teenagers feel they are old enough for some puppy romance during this vacation, and thus petition to be dressed in something more adult than their 'baby' clothes. But, mother Robinson(Ann Harding) mostly resists these pleadings, resulting in more conflicts and embarrassing situations once they get to the Catskills. They stay in the romantic-sounding Kissimee Resort, owned by Mr. Finay(Clinton Sandburg), whose gangly son Billy(Carleton Carpenter) serves as bell boy. Billy remembers Patti from the previous year and tries to flirt with her, but she's not much interested, and soon is swooning over older, but suave, Cuban Demi(Ricardo Montalbam) who, in turn, is squiring Valerie(Phyllis Kirk), who quickly tries to impede Patti's chase of Demi. Meanwhile, Melba(Debbie) has struck up a friendship with Billy, who initially ignored her. Of course, we soon figure out that , despite all their age and clothes disadvantages, Patti will end up with Demi, and Melba with Billy, in the final scene.
Patti ad Billy keep getting into embarrassing situations, as they try to impress the opposite sex. Patti develops a severe inferiority complex because she hasn't a corset to wear, while the other debs all have one. Papa, who is more understanding of Patti's wish to be see as a woman than is his wife, finally buys her one, but its a surgical corset that locks when she bends over too much(Yes, pretty contrived!) Also, her swimwear is not on par with her age. Thus, when Demi is seen approaching, her sibs bury her in the imported sand, except for her head, hidden by a bucket(reminding me of Oliver Hardy, in "Way Out West"). Patti is envious of Valerie, who is wearing the latest minimal swimwear when she dives into the lake((Melba dubs her 'Lady Govida'). Billy is hamstrung socially, because is father still makes him wear knickers(unbelievable, as Carleton was 24 and quite tall!).
Busby Berkeley was choreographer. The film opens with papa Robinson conducting a summer band in a pavilion, with Jane, in a very elegant womanly outfit, singing a classic piece "A Heart that's Free", which Diana Durbin had sung during her brief MGM period. Much later, Debbie and some boys sing "That's How I Need You": very amateurish, as intended. Jane then walks in, and begins a much better "The Oceana Roll", composed around 1910, with the others eventually chiming in: a fun production. Besides the memorable "Aba Daba Honeymoon" duet, which also includes considerable dancing and clowning, Debbie and Carleton do a duet song and dance to "Row, Row, Row, Your Boat", which also is quite entertaining. Later, in Jane's elaborate dream sequence to "My Beautiful Lady" she is dressed very stylishly , in pink, with parasol, as Demi and Billy fight for her hand, in one portion. The finale stage production is rather short and simple: Patti tangos with Demi, she swoons when her surgical corset locks, inhibiting her breathing. This scene is set up by Billy and Melba, who stole Valerie's dancing shoes. Thus, at the last minute, Patti takes her place in the show, wearing Valerie's shoes, after Valerie leaves in disgust. Yes, pretty contrived!
Debbie gets most of the easy-going, fun, musical numbers, while Jane mostly gets the serious romantic singing roles. It would be the same story when they were again paired in "Hit the Deck". Both that film and this one were directed by Roy Roland. Like Judy Garland, Jane usually had a couple of crying spells in her films. Debbie's character is not so serious about her romancing.
At age 30, Richardo was in his peak handsome period. The next year, he would suffer a serious back injury that caused permanent pain and limp....Carleton was quite personable and it's too bad he wasn't included in more films....Clinton Sundberg, who played the resort manager, had a limited film career, usually playing minor service characters. I remember him as the haughty butler , in "The Girl Next Door"... Louis Calhern, who played the family father, also played Jane's grandfather, but functional father, in "Nancy Goes to Rio", released the same year... I though Phyllis Kirk did an excellent job in the thankless role of 'the other woman'.
Reportedly, Jane's favorite film she did. Not really my favorite of her films, but it has it's positives.