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  • The movie more or less follows the storyline of Louisa May Alcott's book of the same name, although the movie starts about a third of the way through the book, skips over some things and over-condenses others, particularly the last chapter, which is reduced to a few lines of dialog in the movie. The story is sat in the 1870's among the snooty-rich of Boston. Polly Milton (Jean), the poor relative to a rich family, refuses to enter their circle, preferring to make her way as a music teacher. After much ado, Polly serves as a relatively young Miss Fixit, patching up things here and there. If you like the movie, do check out the book.

    The acting is first rate, especially 11 year old Elinor Donahue (of Father Knows Best fame), who is hilarious as the wise-cracking Maud, poking fun at her snobbish relatives.

    Songs for Jean include "Beautiful Dreamer", "The Travel Song" (written for this movie by Charles Previn), part of Schubert's "Where" (arranged by Charles Previn), and parts of other songs (such as an abbreviated "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"). Jean, Donahue, and Frances Rafferty sing a song called "Kitchen Serenade" which threatens at times to break into a gadget-added number typical to those performed by Spike Jones and his City Slickers. Jean's voice is beautiful, as usual, and while the highest notes aren't tested as they were early in her career, her lower register is much fuller and more mature.

    There's also an excerpt from the third movement of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto in E Minor, performed by then 18 year old Sandra Berkova. Ms. Berkova (who was related to conductor Lorin Maazel) was a child prodigy who later faded into obscurity. She only plays the work modestly well here, and her inclusion in the movie was at the adamant insistence of director Arthur Dreifess, who was supposedly infatuated with Berkova (although not in a romantic way). The camera-work during the concerto is, to say the least, weird.

    I haven't seen this movie on TV in over thirty years. Finding it can be difficult, except that you can, as usual, buy a copy from Gloria Jean herself at her website. IMDb policy forbids the posting of URL's, but you can find the site with your favorite search engine and the words "Gloria Jean Child Star" (or by putting those four words together, and adding a "." and "com" to the end).
  • Projected a 16mm print of this cool old picture last night for the third time since I bought the print. I enjoyed it very much! Stephen Foster gets a bad rap sometimes, but "Beautiful Dreamer" is a beautiful song with well thought out lyrics, so was "Jeanie With The Light Brown Hair" Gloria Jean sure can belt out the songs! One of the very best moments in this picture was when violin virtuoso Saundra Berkova, she was only 18 years old when they filmed her scene, and man what a talented chick! She was incredible and just jams through Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto! Interestingly she was involved in a marijuana party bust in the 1950's in Hollywood! Being a former 420 head myself, I thought that was kind of cool that she may have smoked pot! Apparently no charges were brought against her and she was released! I couldn't believe that I was watching the actress who would later play Granny on The Beverly Hillbillies show! Come to find out that Irene Ryan was a very talented actress and when she was a young woman she was very nice looking! Of course Elinor Donahue was so cute, and popped off with some great lines in the flick! Elinor and actor Jimmy Lydon may be the only living cast members of this picture! The pictures director Arthur Dreifuss started a production company to produce this picture and one other film under the banner of Vinson Pictures, "Shamrock Hill" also released in the same year of 1949! (I also have a 16mm print of that picture as well and I love them both!) I wouldn't be surprised if the 35mm cut nitrate negatives and soundtrack rolls were left to decay in some storage unit someplace? Frances Rafferty was a babe! So was Rosemary La Planche and Shirley Mills! Everybody in this picture was great! So if you're not a jaded fool, check out this picture! Best part, no cell phones, computers, dumb tattooed idiots, dumb girls with colored hair, car chases, rap, rock, new country music, Covid-19, Mr. Trump and Mr. Biden - just good old fashioned fun! Damn it I think I left my Covid-19 mask in the car! Can't wait for the US government to shoot us all up with an unproven vaccine, maybe I'll die! Hooray!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    A musical adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's book of the same title. It stars Gloria Jean, as a singing teacher in Boston, and the main singer of several songs. I saw the copy available at YouTube. It's in rather poor shape, often excessively dark, with frequent miniskips. It's only 74 min. long vs. the 82 min. reported at the present site. Gloria sells DVD copies of many of the films she was in. However, there was no mention of a DVD offering for this film. So, perhaps there is no better existent copy?........Gloria plays Polly Milton, distant cousin of the Shaw family. Frances Rafferty plays Frances Shaw, Polly's friend and approximate age mate. Elinor Donahue(of the "Father Knows Best" TV series.) play's Frances's younger(11y.o.) sister Maud. Jimmy Lydon plays brother Tom, approximately the same age as Polly, and Frances, and the man Polly wants to marry. Irene Ryan(Granny, of "The Beverly Hilbillies" TV series) plays the easily traumatized Mrs. Shaw, while Douglas Wood plays Mr. Shaw. To complete the main characters, John Hubbard plays the very eligible bachelor Mr. Sydney: about a decade older than the other young adults. He is rather wealthy, handsome and has a sympathetic personality. He is involved in a love triangle with Polly and Frances. Meanwhile, Polly is involved in a love triangle with Tom and Trix, until Trix cancels the engagement when the Shaw's iron works business goes belly up. One complicating romance looks rather contrived. While Tom is in Michigan, working for Poly's brother, Polly gets a letter from her brother saying that Tom is sweet on a Marcia, and they may soon marry. This makes Polly very depressed. However, when Tom arrives home for Christmas, he says that it is Polly's brother, not him, who is engaged to Marcia. Did things change that fast, or did Polly's brother write down the wrong word in his letter(not likely)? In the end, things turn out well for Polly and for the Shaws. .......Polly leads in the singing of several songs, beginning with the joyous "The Travel Song", sung while she is in a wagon, moving from near Lincoln(Nebraska?) to her new home in Miss Mills' boarding house, in Boston, not far from the Shaws. At a party, Poly leads the singing of Stephen Foster's "Beautiful Dreamer", which functions as the de facto theme song, also heard during the opening credits, and also as snippets during the film. This is a very appropriate theme song, as we have 2 beautiful dreamers in Polly and Frances. During the last half of the film, Polly, along with Frances and Maud sing and sort of dance to the novelty song "The Kitchen Serenade", while in the kitchen....... My rating of the film does not take into consideration the poor condition of the copy I saw and unexplained deletion of 8min. of run time..........I have reviewed many of the films that include Gloria Jean, many of which are no longer available at YouTube, but can be bought via Gloria Jeans' web site. Her costars included Bing Crosby, W.C. Fields, Groucho Marx, Donald O'Connor, and Peggy Ryan.
  • In the late 1930s and into the 1940s, two amazingly talented singers were all the rage in films. The most famous of them today was Judy Garland, though for a while Deanna Durbin was a bigger draw and saved Universal Studios from financial ruin (as did Abbott & Costello). Just a bit after their success, Gloria Jean arrived in Hollywood and like these other two, possessed an amazing voice for a young girl. But, unlike the other two, her fame was short-lived and today she's hardly remembered. This is no slam against her...she just didn't catch on with audiences like the other two...and the studio already had Miss Durbin under contract.

    "An Old-Fashioned Girl" is one of Gloria Jean's outings at the tail end of her movie career. Here Gloria is an adult and it's nice to see her in such a role.

    The story is set in 1870 and Polly (Gloria Jean) comes from an impoverished middle-class family. So she did what any sane person would do...she went to work. However, this was something women from her class just didn't do...and her providing music lessons was quite a shock to others. As for the folks around her, they mostly seemed like dull idlers....folks you wouldn't want to know or with which you'd like to be associated! And, their reaction to her and romance are the main themes of this movie.

    I liked this film better than the juvenile roles Jean played in the early 40s. It seemed less dependent on her singing and more on acting...a major plus. An enjoyable film overall and worth your time.

    By the way, if you watch the film, look for a young Elinor Donahue as well as Irene Ryan....old TV standbys of the 50s-70s. Ryan, by the way, overacts terribly a few times.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Considering that there have been at least six big screen and small crew screen versions of "Little Women", I'm surprised this lesser-known Louisa May Alcott story has not been remade. It's a late-career entry for soprano Gloria Jean, a child star in the late 1930's, appearing in films with Bing Crosby and W.C. Fields, who became a teen co-star of Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan's in Universal musicals in the mid 1940's. Here, she's been banished to the independence Screen Guild studios, one of several B studios that popped up and quickly disappear in the mid-to-late 1940's. Co-starring with her is former Henry Aldrich, Jimmy Lydon, as well as Francis Rafferty, Elinor Donahue and a future TV granny.

    As Jo March was for her crotchety great aunt, Gloria Jean's Polly Milton is the poor relation to a wealthy Boston family who moves in, becomes a teacher, tells off some gossipy society women in a sewing circle and is there for support when the family undergoes their own financial crisis. Throughout the film, she breaks into song at the most inappropriate times and ends up getting her cousins to sing along with her.

    I suppose her being a music teacher is the perfect excuse to sing, but the film overall is very slow and often pondering, with pacing that is very similar to a silent melodrama. Irene Ryan (as "Anastasia!") does have a few amusing moments as the mother (more elaborately dressed than her usual screen charwomen and maids), but she really doesn't have anything substantial to do. Young Elinor Donahue before her TV fame guys get the best lines although Jean does brighten the film up when she explodes at those Boston gossips. It is a little nostalgic and spots, and the Christmas sequence is sweet as well, but it seemed a bit behind the times coming out in the turbulent late 1940's.