When My Baby Smiles at Me


1h 38m 1948

Film Details

Also Known As
Burlesque
Release Date
Nov 1948
Premiere Information
World premiere in San Francisco: 5 Nov 1948; New York opening: 23 Nov 1948
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Burlesque by George Manker Watters and Arthur Hopkins (New York, 1 Sep 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,820ft (10 reels)

Synopsis

In a Kansas City burlesque house, in the 1920s, headliner Skid Johnson, an alcoholic comedian who has now not shown up on time for the third time in a week, barely makes it to the theater in time to go on. As he gets into his costume, his wife and partner, Bonny Kane, who smells liquor on his breath, complains about his lack of ambition, and he admits that he is just a "hoke" comic. While Skid is onstage, Bonny, who is not really mad at him, then threatens singer Sylvia Marco, who is leaving to be in a New York show, if she ever attempts to seduce Skid again. Later, Skid receives a telegram that offers him $500 a week to appear in the new show that big-time producer Sam Harris is putting on in New York, but following an argument with Bonny about Sylvia, Skid says he is not going. Cattleman Harvey Howell from Nevada, a fan who has followed Bonny's career in the trade papers, comes to her dressing room, and although flattered by the handsome cattleman's attention, Bonny quickly tells him she is married, which greatly disappoints Harvey. When Skid finds the two of them together, his nonchalance piques Bonny. With the help of Lefty Moore, the troupe's manager, Bonny convinces Skid to accept Harris' offer and promises to join him after the touring season is over. Skid is a hit, and on opening night, he convinces Harris to allow him to perform a new bit in the show. He is about to suggest Bonny as his partner, but Harris wants Sylvia for the part. After reading gossip about Skid and Sylvia, Bonny convinces Lefty to allow her to go to New York for a couple of days. She and Skid joyously greet each other, but Bonny becomes disheartened when she finds liquor bottles hidden in his bed. When she asks about Sylvia, he admits he has been out with her a few times, but says it means nothing. Bonny tells Skid that with her it is "all or nothing," and he says he will tell Harris to fire Sylvia. After Bonny returns to the troupe, however, Skid loses his nerve and does not talk to Harris, but continues to go out with Sylvia, and when Bonny reads a story about them, she cries. Skid soon is visited by a process server informing him he is being sued for divorce and is shocked. Bonny, who only wanted to bring Skid to his senses, decides to go through with the divorce when she hears nothing from Skid. Harvey reads about the pending divorce in Variety and invites Bonny to stay at his ranch in Nevada with his mother so that she can get a Reno divorce. Sometime later, after the divorce is granted, Gussie Evans, Bonny's former cohort, visits her at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, as she plans to marry Harvey in Connecticut the following week. Gussie's husband Bozo and Lefty then enter with Skid, who acts as if he is happy for Bonny. However, as he begins to drink and perform a routine with Bonny from the past, they become teary-eyed. When Harvey arrives, Skid, now viciously drunk and uncontrollable, performs a mock wedding ceremony and gives the bride away, then breaks down crying in frustration and pain until Bonny yells for him to stop. Later, when Lefty learns that Skid is in Bellevue Hospital, he offers Skid a role in a new show that is opening in three weeks. Bolstered by Lefty's confidence in him, Skid agrees, but he does not show up for rehearsal the day of the opening. Bonny, who has received a wire from Lefty, arrives and offers to help. Skid then shows up drunk and wobbly, and they attempt to get him sober. After Bonny does a number, Skid protests that he cannot go on, and Lefty asks Bonnie to perform alone. Instead, Bonny leads Skid to the stage to do the number that had so affected them both in the past. When she tells him that she could not marry anyone she did not love and that she is now back with him, Skid revives completely and finishes the number. Backstage, Skid and Bonny cry and kiss.

Cast

Betty Grable

Bonny Kane

Dan Dailey

Skid Johnson

Jack Oakie

Bozo Evans

June Havoc

Gussie Evans

Richard Arlen

Harvey Howell

James Gleason

Lefty Moore

Vanita Wade

Bubbles

Kenny Williams

Specialty dancer

Jean Wallace

Sylvia Marco

Pati Behrs

Woman in box

Robert Emmett Keane

Sam Harris

Jerry Maren

Midget

George "beetlepuss" Lewis

Comic

Tom Stevenson

Valet

Sam Bernard

Process server

Mauritz Hugo

Stage manager

Frank Scannell

Vendor

Tim Graham

Painter

Dave Morris

Painter

J. Farrell Macdonald

Doorman

Les Clark

Trouper

Harry Seymour

Trouper

Lee Macgregor

Call boy

Charles Tannen

Intern

Robert Karnes

Attendant

George Melford

Conductor

Robert Patten

Sailor

Ted Jordan

Sailor

Harry Carter

Man in box

Tiny Timbrell

Musician

Tito Vuolo

Proprietor

Everett Smith

Attendant

Bea Stephens

Chorus girl

Bill Walker

Porter

Jasper Weldon

Red Cap

Chester Jones

Red Cap

George O'hara

Stagehand

William Vedder

Room service waiter

Helen Foster

Waitress

Charles La Torre

Tony

Donna Hamilton

Hat check girl

Edward Clark

Box office man

Lu Anne Jones

Specialty dancer

Dorothy Babb

Specialty dancer

Joann Dale

Specialty dancer

Noel Neill

Specialty dancer

Wanda Flippen

Russian showgirl

Angela Wilson

French showgirl

Ruth Hall

Spanish showgirl

Joan Myles

Dutch showgirl

Gloria Gable

Dancer

Marion Marshall

Kit Guard

Jack Santoro

Roger Laswell

Bob Mccord

Carol West

Wanda Smith

Ruth Landis

Harriet Scott

Betty Jane Barton

Madge Journeay

Grace Davies

Hank Mann

Lela Bliss

Bert Hicks

John Shay

Nancy Hale

Lenore Nelems

Florence Pepper

Panchita Rowe

Louise Allen

Maxine Ardell

Kathleen Kelly

Dona La Barr

Billie Lane

Gwynne Norys

Edna Ryan

Jean Spangler

Sue Taylor

Crew

Jerry Adler

Harmonica Arrangements

Michael Audley

Dialogue Director

Ben Bernie

Composer

Marie Brasselle

Betty Grable's hairdresser

Monte C. Brice

Composer

Lew Brown

Composer

Alfred Bryan

Composer

Kenneth Casey

Composer

Con Conrad

Composer

Hugh Cummings

Dialogue Director

Buddy Desylva

Composer

Mort Dixon

Composer

Walter Donaldson

Composer

Leonard Doss

Associate (Color)

Raymond B. Egan

Composer

Sam Ehrlich

Composer

Seymour Felix

Dances staged by

Fred Fisher

Composer

Bernard Freericks

Sound

Leland Fuller

Art Director

Mack Gordon

Composer

Earle Hagen

Orchestra Arrangement

Roger Heman

Sound

Charles Henderson

Vocal Director

Ray Henderson

Composer

Renè Hubert

Costume Design

Harry Jackson

Director of Photography

George Jessel

Producer

George Jessel

Composer

Gus Kahn

Composer

Natalie Kalmus

Technicolor Color Consultant

Henry Klinger

Associate story Editor

R. A. Klune

Production Manager

Ernest Lansing

Set Decoration

Ernesto Lecuona

Composer

Charles Lemaire

Wardrobe Director

George "beetlepuss" Lewis

Technical Advisor

Sam M. Lewis

Composer

Ted Lewis

Composer

Thomas Little

Set Decoration

Francia Luban

Composer

Joe Mccarthy

Composer

Joseph Mccarthy

Composer

Barbara Mclean

Film Editor

Cyril J. Mockridge

Music development

James V. Monaco

Composer

Bill Munro

Composer

Josef Myrow

Composer

Alfred Newman

Music Director

Ben Nye

Makeup Artist

Maurice De Packh

Addl orch and Arrangements

Maceo Pinkard

Composer

Elizabeth Reinhardt

Adaptation

Billy Rose

Composer

Gene Rose

Additional Arrangement

Irving Rosenberg

Camera Operator

Harry Ruby

Composer

John N. Scott

Arrangements and piano improvisation

Fred Sersen

Special Photography Effects

Herbert Spencer

Orchestra Arrangement

Andrew B. Sterling

Composer

Al Stillman

Composer

Lamar Trotti

Screenwriter

Anthony Ugrin

Stills

Richard Wagner

Composer

Lyle Wheeler

Art Director

Richard A. Whiting

Composer

Kenny Williams

Dances staged by

Joseph C. Wright

Music settings Designer by

Saul Wurtzel

Assistant Director

Joe Young

Composer

Film Details

Also Known As
Burlesque
Release Date
Nov 1948
Premiere Information
World premiere in San Francisco: 5 Nov 1948; New York opening: 23 Nov 1948
Production Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Distribution Company
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Burlesque by George Manker Watters and Arthur Hopkins (New York, 1 Sep 1927).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 38m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Technicolor)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8,820ft (10 reels)

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1948
Dan Dailey

Best Score

1948

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The working title of this film was Burlesque. The play Burlesque, originally produced on Broadway starring Barbara Stanwyck and Hal Skelly, won a Critics' Award as one of the ten best Broadway plays of 1927-28. According to news items and information in the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department at the UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library, after Paramount had produced films in 1929 and 1937 based on the play, they sold the rights to RKO, which planned a version to star Ray Bolger. In 1944, Columbia bought the motion picture rights to the play from Paramount, and according to a March 23, 1944 New York Times item, Al Jolson, in his first assignment as a producer for Columbia, was planning to supervise a film based on the play, starring Rita Hayworth. That production was never realized.
       In September 1947, Los Angeles Times reported that Joan Crawford wanted to star in a film based on Burlesque, but Columbia refused to sell the rights to Warner Bros., Crawford's studio. Columbia then sold the motion picture rights to Twentieth Century-Fox in exchange for racehorse stock shots from their 1938 film Kentucky (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films: 1931-40; F3.2260) for use in The Return of October. At the time of the purchase by Twentieth Century-Fox, the play was being produced in a revival on Broadway starring Bert Lahr and Jean Parker.
       According to publicity for the film at the AMPAS Library, producer George Jessel envisioned producing this film with Dan Dailey and Betty Grable after seeing them in Twentieth Century-Fox's 1947 musical about a vaudeville family, Mother Wore Tights.
       According to information in the Produced Scripts Collection and in Records of the Legal Department, the film originally was to begin with George Jessel "orating regarding burlesque in the middle twenties. He says, 'It was the West Point for many great artists-Weber and Fields, Sam Bernard, David Warfield in the old days; and stars who are still going strong today-Eddie Cantor, Fannie Brice, Bert Lahr, Leon Errol, Sophie Tucker, and if you'll pardon the expression, even me, Georgie Jessel.'" In the final film, an offscreen narrator situates the film in 1920s burlesque, but does not name any specific performers.
       The film contains a scene in which Dailey, as the character "Skid Johnson," does an imitation of vaudevillian Ted Lewis singing the title song, "When My Baby Smiles at Me." Lewis is mentioned by name in the scene. According to the Legal Records, Lewis, after signing an agreement allowing the company to impersonate him and to use his name, complained in writing that he had understood that the impersonation would be the same as the one that Hal Skelly originated in the play Burlesque and that Bert Lahr used when he later appeared in the play. That impersonation appeared in the song "Just Around the Corner." Lewis, who stated that the song "When My Baby Smiles at Me," which he co-wrote, had been his theme song for almost thirty years, was upset that the studio had appropriated the title for their film without consulting with him. In a letter dated August 10, 1948, after filming had been completed, Lewis wrote that he had been informed that Dailey had impersonated him throughout the film, not just for one song, and stated, "I hereby withdraw the limited consent to have Dan Dailey impersonate me...for I am convinced that if you do so you will cause me very considerable damage." In a subsequent memo, a studio official stated that Lewis was in error "as we do not impersonate him throughout the picture." Lewis later was informed that the studio had procured permission from the publisher of the song to use the title.
       Dailey received an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, but lost to Laurence Olivier in Hamlet. Betty Grable and Dailey reprised their roles on the Lux Radio Theatre on April 25, 1949. A radio adaptation was also broadcast on Screen Directors' Playhouse on May 5, 1950. On March 17, 1955, a television version, "Burlesque," was broadcast on CBS-TV's Shower of Stars, with Dailey, Jackie Oakie, Marilyn Maxwell and Joan Blondell. As noted above, the play Burlesque was first filmed by Paramount in 1929 as Dance of Life, directed by John Cromwell and Edward Sutherland and starring Hal Skelly and Nancy Carroll (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1921-30; F2.1141), and in 1937 as Swing High, Swing Low, directed by Mitchell Leisen and starring Carole Lombard and Fred MacMurray (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.4437).