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With a Song in My Heart

With a Song in My Heart(1952)

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The working titles of this film were The Jane Froman Story, The Froman Story, Stardust, I'll See You in My Dreams and You and the Night and the Music. After the film's opening credits, a written foreword states, "This is a true story-the story of a girl and the story of a voice. The girl is Jane Froman, the voice is her own." Throughout the film, intermittent narration by Rory Calhoun, David Wayne and Thelma Ritter is heard as their characters describe their experiences with "Jane." At the end of the film, Jane sings a medley of songs with the soldiers, including "Deep in the Heart of Texas," "Give My Regards to Broadway," "California, Here I Come," "Carry Me Back to Old Virginny," "Chicago," "Maine Stein Song," "Back Home in Indiana," "Alabamy Bound" and "Dixie."
       The film is based on the life of popular singer and actress Jane Froman (1907-1980), who was seriously injured in a plane crash in February 1943, while she was on her way to entertain Allied troops in Europe. After more than twenty-five operations, Froman regained use of her legs and continued her successful career. [In the picture, it is stated that Froman's right leg was the one almost severed, but in a March 1952 The American Weekly article written by Froman, she related that it was her left leg which she almost lost.] As depicted in the film, John Burn was a co-pilot on the ill-fated flight, and held Froman afloat for forty-five minutes until they were both rescued. Froman divorced her first husband, comedian Don Ross to marry Burn in 1948, but they, too, divorced eight years later. Reviews of With a Song in My Heart noted that, ironically, Burn survived another plane crash on April 11, 1952, the day the film opened in Los Angeles. [Although studio publicity reported that the character of "Clancy," played by Thelma Ritter, was fictitious, the character of the wounded paratrooper, played by Robert Wagner, was based on a real soldier, according to a November 1953 Saturday Evening Post column.]
       An October 1950 New York Times article reported that M-G-M, Warner Bros., Wald-Krasna and Samuel Goldwyn were among the studios and producers bidding for the rights to Froman's story, but after meeting with producer Lamar Trotti, Froman decided to sell the rights to Twentieth Century-Fox. In mid-April 1951, Hollywood Reporter announced that Jeanne Crain had been set for the leading role, but according to a modern source, Froman preferred Susan Hayward, who resembled and sounded like her. Froman pre-recorded the songs for the picture herself, with Hayward lip-synching to the playback. According to June 1951 Hollywood Reporter news items, Dale Robertson was originally cast as "John Burn," but was replaced by Rory Calhoun after being cast in Lydia Bailey. Although Hollywood Reporter news items include the following actors in the cast, their appearance in the completed picture has not been confirmed: Joyce MacKenzie, Mae Johnson, Warren Mace, Phil Sylvester, Geraldine Farnum, Merry Anders and Joan Caton. Other Hollywood Reporter news items noted that dance director Billy Daniel was originally set to be Hayward's dance partner during "The Right Kind" number, but after he fractured his foot during rehearsals, he was replaced by Richard Allan. Actor Max Showalter changed his name to Casey Adams after finishing production on the picture, and although a December 1951 Hollywood Reporter news item reported that the studio had paid $1,650 to change the film's opening credits to include his new name, he was listed as Showalter on the viewed print.
       With a Song in My Heart, which received mostly glowing reviews, won an Academy Award for Best Scoring of a Musical Picture and was nominated for a Best Musical/Comedy Golden Globe award. Ritter received an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, and Hayward received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Musical/Comedy. On February 9, 1953, Lux Radio Theatre broadcast a version of the story starring Hayward, Calhoun, Ritter and David Wayne, with Froman again singing the songs.