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Star of the Month: Jane Powell
Remind Me
Luxury Liner

Luxury Liner

The 1948 MGM musical Luxury Liner stars Jane Powell as Polly Bradford, a boarding school girl with big dreams of being an opera star. Veteran actor George Brent plays Polly's widowed father, the captain of a luxury passenger ship. When he lets it slip that the world famous opera tenor Olaf Eriksen will be a passenger on his ship's next voyage to Rio, she begs to come along. When her father refuses, Polly stows away on the ship determined to meet Olaf Eriksen and impress him with her own vocal abilities.

There is no shortage of talent on board this luxury liner. The effervescent Jane Powell displays a light comedic touch and sings some of the film's best numbers such as "Spring Came Back to Vienna" and "The Peanut Vendor." Marina Koshetz provides many funny moments as the ferociously aggressive singer Zita Romanka, and real life Danish opera star Lauritz Melchior shines in the role of Olaf Eriksen. Famous bandleader Xavier Cugat also makes an appearance playing himself.

Jane Powell admits in her 1988 autobiography The Girl Next Door and How She Grew that she had a big crush on her Luxury Liner co-star George Brent during the making of the film. Despite the fact that Brent was 30 years her senior and was playing her father, Powell found him "so good-looking, and fun," with a wonderful sense of humor. However, nothing came of the crush until decades later. While on tour in San Diego with the musical South Pacific, George Brent sent Powell a letter and a bouquet of roses out of the blue. She was charmed, and eventually the two began seeing each other socially. Brent confessed that he had always wanted to pursue her but found it too difficult all those years earlier because she was constantly surrounded by an overly protective entourage. Eventually Brent proposed marriage to Powell, but she turned him down much to his disappointment. However, the two did go on to marry others later on.

Luxury Liner co-star, Frances Gifford, who plays George Brent's love interest Laura, was beset with some unfortunate personal hardships soon after the film's release. The brunette beauty, best known for her role as Jungle Girl in the Republic action serial of the same name, was in a car crash in 1948 that left her with extensive injuries. Soon thereafter, MGM cancelled her contract, curtailing her otherwise promising acting career. She tried to resume her career following her recovery by making a couple of pictures for Paramount such as Riding High (1950) and Sky Commando (1953), but she never regained her footing in Hollywood. Her emotional state deteriorated, and she ended up spending many years in a psychiatric hospital.

Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Richard Whorf
Screenplay: Richard Connell, Karl Kamb, Gladys Lehman
Cinematography: Robert H. Planck
Film Editing: Robert Kern
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Paul Groesse
Music: George E. Stoll
Cast: George Brent (Captain Jeremy Bradford), Jane Powell (Polly Bradford), Lauritz Melchior (Olaf Eriksen), Frances Gifford (Laura Dene), Marina Koshetz (Zita Romanka), Xavier Cugat (Himself), Connie Gilchrist (Bertha).
C-98m. Closed captioning.

by Andrea Passafiume



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