Oh, You Beautiful Doll


1h 33m 1949

Brief Synopsis

In the early 1900s, song plugger Larry Kelly chances to meet Alfred Breitenbach, poor opera composer...and his lovely daughter Doris, who falls for Larry. To improve their acquaintance, Doris conspires with Larry to turn her father's opera melodies into popular songs. Alfred, reluctant but needing cash, adopts the pen name Fred Fisher. Affluence results, but when Alfred realizes his opera is vanishing bit by bit, he wants to bring the career of "Fred Fisher" to a halt...

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Nov 1949
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,417ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

In his "Four-to-a-Bar" saloon, Lippy Brannigan reminisces about the old days when many major song writers used to frequent the New York saloon. As the newly revived song "Peg O' My Heart" plays on the juke box, Lippy tells a reporter about the song's composer, Fred Fisher: Back in the early 1900s, a young song-plugger, Larry Kelly, comes into Lippy's recently opened saloon with promotional materials for one of the songs he is plugging, "Oh, You Beautiful Doll," currently being performed by Marie Carle at a local vaudeville house. Another customer picks a fight with him, but Larry throws him out onto the sidewalk, where he collides with passing classical musician Alfred Breitenbach. Alfred is on his way to attend a luncheon being given for Gottfried Steiner, conductor of the New York Symphony Orchestra, which is about to leave on a European tour. At the luncheon, Steiner invites Alfred to play some selections from his new opera, but he is interrupted when Zaltz, another guest who has been showing off a ring that once belonged to Johann Strauss, suddenly discovers it is missing. When each guest is asked to turn out his pockets, Alfred gets up from the piano and leaves the dining room. He explains to Steiner that he could not turn out his pockets as he is so impoverished that he had food from the luncheon in them. Steiner, whom Alfred's father had once helped, promises to help him when he returns from his tour. At home, Alfred tells his wife Anna, who takes in sewing to help make ends meet, that the performance at the luncheon was a great success. Soon after, Larry comes to return a letter Alfred dropped in the confusion outside the saloon and also to recover a pawn ticket he had mistakenly given him. Larry meets Alfred and Anna's daughter Doris, who later attends a performance at the theater where "Oh, You Beautiful Doll" is being promoted and, from the audience, joins in the singing. Larry spots her and invites her to join him for a meal. He learns that she is a classical violinist and pianist and suggests that one of her father's compositions might be adaptable for the popular music market. Doris becomes very interested in Larry, but discovers he is very friendly with Marie Carle. After Doris plays part of her father's operatic score for Larry on a piano, she tells her father that Larry is going to write lyrics for his music. Doris and Larry perform the first song in front of her parents at Volk's Casino. When music publisher Ted Held tells Alfred and Larry that the song will be a big hit, Alfred does not want it published under his real name and chooses a pseudonym, Fred Fisher, from a brewery calendar. Larry and Alfred continue to collaborate, and the earnings from their songs enable the Breitenbachs to move to a larger house. Later, at a small dinner party, Larry arrives with Marie but later explains to Doris that he and Marie are simply business associates and that, when Doris is a little older, he intends to marry her. Steiner then returns from Europe and tells Alfred that he is looking forward to seeing his opera performed. Embarrassed, Alfred explains his new prosperity by saying that his wife's uncle left them some money. Although Larry has written several more songs based on Alfred's operatic score, Alfred refuses to work on any more on popular music. Later, in an effort to get his new song in front of the public, Larry phones Al Jolson and convinces him to introduce it. Larry then is arrested for breaking street lights to plug the song, "There's a Broken Heart for Every Light on Broadway." When Alfred goes to help Larry, he, too, winds up behind bars and a photo of them appears in a newspaper. Alfred disappears, leaving Anna a note that he is going to rewrite his opera and forget "Fred Fisher." Doris and Larry try to find him, but he is hiding out in a hotel in Hoboken. Desperate, Doris goes to see Steiner, who offers to perform Alfred's music as a way of drawing him out. Meanwhile, Alfred has broken the window of a music store whose loudspeaker was featuring his songs, and among the shattered remains, Alfred sees a poster for Steiner's Mayolian Hall concert featuring his music. Lippy and Held patrol the front of the hall and spot Alfred arriving late, and although Alfred doesn't identify himself he is given a special box seat. Steiner introduces Alfred's music by telling the audience that they may not recognize the name Breitenbach, but that he is known to all of them as one of America's greatest melody writers, Fred Fisher. As the orchestra performs a potpourri of his popular music, Anna joins Alfred in the box, while Doris and Larry join the orchestra. Afterward, Alfred takes a bow.

Crew

Larry Airhart

Gaffer

Jeff Alexander

Orchestration

Nat D. Ayer

Composer

Felix Bernard

Composer

Clara Bing

Composer

Johnny S. Black

Composer

A. Seymour Brown

Composer

Alfred Bryan

Composer

James B. Clark

Film Editor

Ken Darby

Voc Director

Leonard Doss

Technicolor color consultant

Seymour Felix

Dances staged by

Fred Fisher

Composer

Myrtle Ford

Hairstylist

Paul S. Fox

Set Decoration

Max Golden

Production Manager

Joe Goodwin

Composer

Earle Hagen

Orchestration

Roger Heman

Sound

Ignace Hilsberg

Piano coach for Mr. Sakall

Renè Hubert

Costume Design

Bruce Hunsaker

Grip

Harry Jackson

Director of Photography

George Jessel

Producer

Howard Johnson

Composer

Ferdinand Kahn

Composer

George Lane

Makeup Artist

Charles Le Maire

Wardrobe Director

Albert Lewis

Writer

Thomas Little

Set Decoration

Louis Loeffler

Film Editor

Bernard Mayers

Orchestration

Joseph Mccarthy

Composer

Felix Mendelssohn

Composer

Cyril Mockridge

Orchestration

Alfred Newman

Music Director

Ben Nye

Makeup Artist

Maurice De Packh

Orchestration

Ernest Palmer

Director of Photography

Edward Powell

Orchestration

Maurice Ransford

Art Director

Irving Rosenberg

Camera Operator

Bob Schafer

Composer

Stanley Scheuer

Script Supervisor

Fred Sersen

Special Photography Effects

William Shirley

Singing double for Mark Stevens

Herbert Spencer

Orchestration

Al St. Hilaire

Stills

Urban Thielman

Orchestration

Tom Tuttle

Makeup Artist

Marie Walters

Hairstylist

E. Clayton Ward

Sound

Lyle Wheeler

Art Director

Bonnie Lou Williams

Singing double for June Haver

Saul Wurtzel

Assistant Director

Film Details

Release Date
Nov 1949
Premiere Information
New York opening: 11 Nov 1949
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 33m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,417ft (10 reels)

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

In the film's opening credits, June Haver receives billing over Mark Stevens, but in the cast list at the end the situation is reversed. Although Ernest Palmer is listed on Hollywood Reporter production charts as the film's director of photography and James B. Clark is listed as the film editor, Henry Jackson and Louis Loeffler are credited, respectively, in those positions in the screen credits. According to documents in the Twentieth Century-Fox, Records of the Legal Department Collection at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, the studio bought an original, unpublished, uncopyrighted preliminary treatment entitled "Oh, You Beautiful Doll" from Albert and Arthur Lewis in July 1948. The Lewises had previously acquired rights to the Fred Fisher story from his widow, Mrs. Anna Fisher Berrens. The studio paid the Lewises $50,000 and Mrs. Fisher $65,000. Writer Virginia Van Upp was briefly involved in the writing of the screenplay but, according to studio documents, no part of her version was used. According to a Twentieth Century-Fox publicity release in the AMPAS Library, June Haver played piano for the first time onscreen. As a child, Haver won three successive Cincinnati musical contests and had played the Haydn Surprise Symphony with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. This was veteran director John M. Stahl's first musical and his next-to-last film. According to studio publicity, producer George Jessel arranged for Al Jolson to record the lines used in the telephone conversation in the film. Certain Twentieth Century-Fox cast lists include Eula Morgan, Edward Clark and Maurice Samuels in the cast but their appearance in the final film is doubtful. The title song was not written by Fisher, but by Nat. D. Ayer and A. Seymour Brown. Abel Green, who reviewed the film for Variety, knew the Fishers and wrote that, apart from the correct use of their names, "The rest is 100% fiction."