Cast & Crew
Mary Collins works as a singing disc jockey at radio station WFOB. One morning, she is called into a private meeting with Donald Read, the multi-millionaire head of Read Industries. Mistakenly thinking that Mary was the mistress of his recently deceased grandfather Henry, the snobbish Donald offers her a cash settlement if she refutes any further claims against the family estate, prompting Mary to storm out of the station. Returning home, Mary learns that her maiden aunt Mary was once a governess for the Read family, during which time she and Henry fell in love. His family strongly disapproved of their relationship, however, and she was dismissed, then began receiving a monthly stipend from Henry for her heartache. Meanwhile, at the Read estate, Donald calls a family meeting to discuss the "Collins situation." Fearful that their crooked uncle Chester will exploit Mary for his own financial gain, Donald is ordered by his grandmother to bring Mary to the Read estate to settle the matter. Knowing that Mary would never agree to see him, Donald sends his distant cousin Charlie to the radio station to abduct her. At the Read estate, Mary is told that the family fears scandal because it might jeopardize Donald's marriage to socialite Clarissa Prentice, so Mary asks for a million dollars to support her and her "child" by Henry. The family readily agrees, but insists that Mary remain at the Read estate until the legal papers can be drawn. Later, the penniless Charlie discovers Mary's deception and agrees to aid her, as he is in love with Clarissa and hopes Mary can help him break her engagement to Donald. Under Charlie's tutelage, Mary quickly invokes Clarissa's ire by flirting with Donald at a fashion show, but Mary warns Charlie that the materialistic Clarissa will forgive Donald as soon as she passes a bank. That evening, Charlie tells the vain Donald the only way he can control Mary is to romance her, so he begins to court her and the two fall madly in love. The smittened Mary then tries to tell Donald the truth about her aunt's relationship to his grandfather, but the love-struck Donald refuses to listen. That night, Grandma Read informs Mary that she will disinherit Donald if he leaves Clarissa, and although Mary professes no interest in the Read fortune, the family matriarch questions whether Donald could truly be happy without his familial rights. Returning home, a heartbroken Mary prepares to leave for New York and begin work on a national radio show, only to be arrested at the airport for attempted extortion. Uncle Chester then arrives at the jail and tells Mary that he will have her released if she agrees to accept the money from his family and give him half. She refuses and calls a drunken Donald for help. Before he can gain her release, however, Beamis and Masterson, the Reads's attorneys, arrive at the police station with the million dollar check. Mary accepts it, then lies to Donald that she only romanced him for the money. Later, Aunt Mary returns the check to Grandma Read and tells her that all Reads have bank accounts instead of hearts. Charlie then tricks Mary into appearing on a television variety show with him, which reunites her with Donald under the now approving eyes of his grandmother.
The Four Williams Brothers
Jacqueline De Wit
Hal K. Dawson
Russell A. Gausman
David S. Horsley
Ruby R. Levitt
Frank A. Richards
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
Born Donald David Dixon O' Connor in Chicago on August 28, 1925, he was raised in an atmosphere of show business. His parents were circus trapeze artists and later vaudeville entertainers, and as soon as young Donald was old enough to walk, he was performing in a variety of dance and stunt routines all across the country. Discovered by a film scout at age 11, he made his film debut with two of his brothers in Melody for Two (1937), and was singled out for a contract by Paramount Pictures. He co-starred with Bing Crosby and Fred MacMurray in Sing, You Sinners (1938) and played juvenile roles in several films, including Huckleberry Finn in Tom Sawyer - Detective (1938) and the title character as a child in Beau Geste (1939).
As O'Connor grew into adolescence, he fared pretty well as a youthful hoofer, dancing up a storm in a string of low-budget, but engaging musicals for Universal Studios (often teamed with the equally vigorous Peggy Ryan) during World War II. Titles like What's Cookin', Get Hep to Love (both 1942), Chip Off the Old Block and Strictly in the Groove (both 1943) made for some fairly innocuous entertainment, but they went a long way in displaying O'Connor's athletic dancing and boyish charm. As an adult, O'Connor struck paydirt again when he starred opposite a talking mule (with a voice supplied by Chill Wills) in the enormously popular Francis (1949). The story about an Army private who discovers that only he can communicate with a talking army mule, proved to be a very profitable hit with kids, and Universal went on to star him in several sequels.
Yet if O'Connor had to stake his claim to cinematic greatness, it would unquestionably be his daringly acrobatic, brazenly funny turn as Cosmo Brown, Gene Kelly's sidekick in the brilliant Singin' in the Rain (1952). Although his self-choreographed routine of "Make "Em Laugh" (which includes a mind-bending series of backflips off the walls) is often singled out as the highlight, in truth, his whole performance is one of the highlights of the film. His deft comic delivery of one-liners, crazy facial expressions (just watch him lampoon the diction teacher in the glorious "Moses Supposes" bit) and exhilarating dance moves (the opening "Fit As a Fiddle" number with Kelly to name just one) throughout the film are just sheer film treats in any critic's book.
After the success of Singin' in the Rain, O'Connor proved that he had enough charisma to command his first starring vehicle, opposite Debbie Reynolds, in the cute musical I Love Melvin (1953). He also found good parts in Call Me Madam (1953), There's No Business Like Show Business (1954), and Anything Goes (1956). Unfortunately, his one attempt at a strong dramatic role, the lead in the weak biopic The Buster Keaton Story (1957) proved to be misstep, and he was panned by the critics.
By the '60s, the popularity of musicals had faded, and O'Connor spent the next several years supporting himself with many dinner theater and nightclub appearances; but just when it looked like we wouldn't see O'Connor's talent shine again on the small or big screen, he found himself in demand at the dawn of the '90s in a string of TV appearances: Murder She Wrote, Tales From the Crypt, Fraser, The Nanny; and movies: Robin Williams' toy-manufacturer father in Toys (1992), a fellow passenger in the Lemmon-Matthau comedy, Out to Sea (1997), that were as welcoming as they were heartening. Survivors include his wife, Gloria; four children, Alicia, Donna, Fred and Kevin; and four grandchildren.
by Michael T. Toole
Donald O'Connor, 1925-2003
The working title of this film was For the Love of Mary. This was the first and only film that Deanna Durbin made with fellow Universal musical star Donald O'Connor. It also marked O'Connor's first film after two years of service in the armed forces. Universal press materials state that this was the first film for noted stage actor John Dall under a new long-term contract to Universal. Dall's only previous film role was in the 1945 Warner Bros.'s release The Corn Is Green (see entry above).