The film is a direct descendant of Life With Father (1947) and Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), both of which nostalgically depict middle class family life at the turn of the twentieth century. The main titles in particular are nearly duplicative of those in Life With Father, and composer Max Steiner uses several cues from the earlier film in the exposition sequence. Both films also feature a visiting aunt in the final act of the plot. Warner. Bros. cast Leon Ames as the family's easily exasperated patriarch, a role nearly identical to the one he played in Meet Me in St. Louis. Other similarities to the M-G-M musical include the young lovers tentatively navigating a darkened house following their first date; the heroine falling for 'the boy next door' (or, in this case, across the street); an acerbic, outspoken housekeeper; an idyllic midwestern setting (in this case, Indiana); the liberal use of period songs incorporated into the story; an extended side plot involving a precocious younger sibling with a vivid imagination who rejects age-appropriate pursuits for mischief that causes constant rifts in the family; a bespectacled, awkward neighbor suitor who doesn't interest the heroine; the coverage of four seasons, beginning in summer and ending in spring, with the younger sibling taking the reins during autumn; and both families are in the throes of moving to a new home.
This movie proved to be so popular that the studio immediately filmed By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953) which is a direct sequel with all the actors playing the same characters. This was very unusual at the time.
"Lux Radio Theater" broadcast a 60 minute radio adaptation of the movie on May 5, 1952 with Gordon MacRae reprising his film role.
Billy Gray, who plays Wesley, would soon create an indelible impression as Bud Anderson in television's Father Knows Best (1954).
This film, it's sequel By the Light of the Silvery Moon and Calamity Jane are among Doris Day's personal favorites of her own films. Interestingly, in all three, she plays tom-boyish characters who blossom into "might perty" young ladies.
The success of this film helped catapult Doris Day into the Top Ten Box Office Stars list for 1951. She would make the list nine more times, ascending to the #1 position by the early 1960s.
Years later, Carol Burnett recalled having worked at the theatre on Hollywood Boulevard where this film played it's premiere engagement in 1951. Burnett, who earned about 75-cents an hour for the job, took special pleasure in answering the theatre's telephone in a sing-song voice and declaring: "Pantages Theatre - Doris Day and Gordon MacRae On Moonlight Bay!"
Salary - Rosemary DeCamp $1,000/week for 5 weeks - close to $10,000/week in 2019 money.
Leon Ames had previously played Judy Garland's father in the 1944 M-G-M classic Meet Me in St. Louis, which this film was clearly intended to emulate.
The tone and humor of Billy Gray's classroom scenes in this film clearly had an influence on similar sequences in Bob Clark's 1980s holiday classic A Christmas Story.