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I Love Melvin

I Love Melvin(1953)

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teaser I Love Melvin (1953)

In the MGM musical comedy I Love Melvin (1953), Judy LeRoy (Debbie Reynolds) yearns to be a star. She has a featured part in a Broadway musical playing a football acrobatically tossed around the gridiron. But in her dreams she's a glamorous film actress beloved by cast and crew alike who sashays through a sultry musical number like Marilyn Monroe in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes (1953). At the end of her fantasy, Robert Taylor (as himself) appears to embrace her. But when Judy wakes up she's still living in the small New York apartment of her parents (Una Merkel, Allyn Joslyn) with little sister Clarabelle (Noreen Corcoran) and boring fianc Harry Flack (Richard Anderson) whose financial stability her father feels makes him a good catch. Anderson eventually appeared in a reoccurring role opposite Lee Majors on the television series The Six Million Dollar Man (1974).

Into this picture comes goofy Look magazine photo assistant Melvin Hoover (Donald O'Connor) with a cranky photographer boss named Mergo (Jim Backus). Melvin is instantly smitten after seeing Judy on stage and, posing as a Look photographer, suggests a photo shoot with her that could potentially be featured in the magazine. Soon that photo shoot becomes many photo shoots and the couple are seeing movies and having dinner together. But Melvin's ploy to win Judy's heart hits a bump in the road when he fakes--with help from Mergo--a Look magazine issue with Judy on the cover and her whole family assumes it's real.

A lively boy meets girl musical, I Love Melvin's high energy and sense of fun are embodied by Donald O'Connor's irrepressible pep. With a family background first in the circus and then in vaudeville, O'Connor made his onscreen debut with his brother Billy in the Warners musical Melody for Two (1937). He was offered a Paramount contract after his appearance in the Bing Crosby musical Sing You Sinners (1938). After growing out of child roles, O'Connor went back to vaudeville for a time. But he eventually returned to Hollywood as a teen performer in Universal studio's "teen swing brigade." In 1943 O'Connor was voted Hollywood's most versatile teenage performer. O'Connor's greatest success, however, came with his appearance in a series of films beginning with Francis in 1950, about a talking mule; the Francis films along with the Ma and Pa Kettle series that began in 1949, kept Universal afloat in the lean years. O'Connor was given a succession of Technicolor musicals to appease the star while he labored on the Francis series. O'Connor's most memorable supporting appearance in a musical was, of course, in Singin' in the Rain (1952) alongside Debbie Reynolds.

I Love Melvin was an attempt to recreate the magic of MGM's winning Singin' in the Rain team of Debbie Reynolds and Donald O'Connor who had to be borrowed by MGM from Universal. The pair worked on location in New York City for I Love Melvin.

Born in Texas, and brought to Hollywood's attention in 1948 when she won the Miss Burbank beauty contest, Debbie Reynolds became synonymous with girl next door buoyancy and sweetness in the many film roles she tackled. Like other classic film couples including Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Clark Gable and Carole Lombard, Reynolds' marriage to singer Eddie Fisher became another definitive show biz union. But despite being heralded as the "perfect" couple upon their marriage in 1955, their bond ended four years later in a shambles when Fisher left Reynolds for Elizabeth Taylor. Reynolds' popularity only rocketed following news of the affair, as the public saw her in the more sympathetic role of the scorned wife.

Unfortunately, Reynolds continued to be unlucky in love. She later married wealthy shoe manufacturer Harry Karl who, unfortunately, had a gambling problem and frittered away both his and Reynolds' money and homes. Reynolds said that it was Karl's gambling problem and the $10 million debt he left her and her daughter Carrie Fisher that destroyed her more than Elizabeth Taylor's betrayal.

Though Reynolds' film career eventually stalled in the early 1970s, she found a second life in television and on the New York stage where she made her Broadway debut in the 1973 revival of the musical Irene and received rave reviews and a Tony nomination.

The New York Times critic Bosley Crowther praised Reynolds in I Love Melvin, writing, "Even a little of Miss Reynolds is pleasing and refreshing to see, she being a pretty little package of simple girlish talents and graceful form." That being said, Crowther also wished in the same review for "a more substantial script."

Director: Don Weis
Producer: George Wells
Screenplay: George Wells from a story by Laszlo Vadnay
Cinematography: Harold Rosson
Production Design: Cedric Gibbons, Eddie Imazu, Jack Martin Smith
Music: Skip Martin
Cast: Judy LeRoy (Debbie Reynolds), Melvin Hoover (Donald O'Connor), Mergo (Jim Backus), Mom Schneider (Una Merkel), Harry Flack (Richard Anderson), Pop Schneider (Allyn Joslyn), Mr. Henneman (Les Tremayne), Clarabelle (Noreen Corcoran), Studio Guide (Barbara Ruick).
C-77m. Closed Captioning.

by Felicia Feaster

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