I'll See You In My Dreams is one of the many songs that lyricist Gus Kahn had a hand in writing during the first half of the 20th Century. You couldn't possibly have gotten all the titles and fairly well known ones at that into a nearly two hour picture though Warner Brothers certainly gave it a try. Even if maybe a bar or two of music was played the film tried to get them in.
Gus Kahn was not as well known a public personality as say George Gershwin or Cole Porter was so I'm sure certain liberties had to have been taken. Doing a little bit of internet research I learned next to nothing about him personally before writing this review.
Kahn died in 1941 and his widow Grace LeBoy Kahn was still alive and she collaborated in the writing of this film. Danny Thomas and Doris Day play Gus and Grace and since their public personalities were a blank slate I'm sure what we saw was Danny Thomas and Doris Day on the screen pretty much as themselves. In fact Danny Thomas in his domestic scenes with Doris, their children and with wisecracking maid Mary Wickes is not any different from the Danny Thomas from the long running television family comedy that Thomas starred in.
This was the first of two projects that Doris Day starred in as the widow of a famous personality, the second being The Winning Team where she is the wife of Grover Cleveland Alexander the famous baseball pitcher. In both cases Grace LeBoy Kahn and Amy Arrants Alexander served as custodians of their husband's legacy although Grover Cleveland Alexander led a far more public life than Gus Kahn.
A lot of liberties were taken with the lives of Gus and Grace and there's no way the average moviegoer would know. But with these films it's the music that counts and the Kahn lyrics are sung beautifully by Doris, Danny, and others.
One that wasn't sung by either was Love Me Or Leave Me which in real life Gus Kahn wrote for Ruth Etting for the show Whoopee. Here Patrice Wymore plays a fictional musical comedy star who unsuccessfully tries to seduce Kahn. Her character is far more like Marilyn Miller than Etting. And coincidentally enough when Ruth Etting's story came to the screen in 1955, Doris Day played her and played her well in both a great acting performance and a great singing one as well.
Kahn wrote lyrics for many different composers, but the only one of his partners who gets a substantial role here is Walter Donaldson played by Frank Lovejoy. Donaldson apparently had a love of the sport of kings and required his partners to indulge same. When Kahn proved he could write at the clubhouse track he was in as far as Donaldson was concerned.
I never worry that these films ever get the biography right and I don't know how close they came here, but the lyrics that Gus Kahn wrote will be sung for the next millenia and that's what really counts.
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