Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Tonight's Movie: Seven Sweethearts (1942)

The MGM musical SEVEN SWEETHEARTS is notable as one of Kathryn Grayson's earliest roles. She was 20 when she starred as the youngest of seven daughters of an innkeeper (S.Z. Sakall) in Holland, Michigan.

The plot is somewhat reminiscent of the same year's YOU WERE NEVER LOVELIER from Columbia, which starred Fred Astaire and Rita Hayworth: a hotel owner who lives in an exotic location has a bevy of beautiful daughters and insists they marry in order of age. SEVEN SWEETHEARTS isn't a classic on the same level as the Astaire film (which among other things boasts an enduring Jerome Kern score), but like so many MGM films of its era, it provides well-crafted family entertainment.

Van Heflin is Grayson's reporter beau. Her sisters are played by Marsha Hunt (a comedic turn as the imperious, stagestruck eldest sister), Cecilia Parker, Peggy Moran, Dorothy Morris, Frances Rafferty, and Frances Raeburn.

Diana Lewis, who plays a starry-eyed newlywed staying in the hotel, had wed William Powell in 1940; despite a 27-year age difference, they were married for 44 years, until Powell died in 1984.

SEVEN SWEETHEARTS was filmed in black and white. I love B&W movies, but this is one film I think would have really benefited from Technicolor to show off the Dutch costumes and tulips!

A close friend's son attends college in Holland. It sounds like a wonderful place. The Tulip Time festival is immortalized in song in the movie. According to IMDb, the film was exhibited in some locations under the title TULIP TIME. Unfortunately, the movie appears to have been filmed entirely on the backlot, but it's a nice tribute to Holland nonetheless.

The movie runs 98 minutes and was directed by Frank Borzage. It's not available on either VHS or DVD but is part of the Turner Classic Movies library.

TCM has the film's trailer here.

Update: Today I dug out the November 2005 issue of Classic Images, which has a wonderful article on one of the title "Sweethearts," Frances Rafferty, including a number of stills from the film. The article includes the most interesting information that Frances Raeburn, who plays another of the sisters, is Kathryn Grayson's real-life sister, and Michael Butler, who plays one of the sisters' boyfriends, is Grayson's brother. Raeburn appeared in four other films in her brief career, while Butler appeared in just one other movie.

Update: This film is now available from the Warner Archive.


Blogger Irene said...

Sigh. Yet another great sounding movie that is not available on VHS or DVD.

I went on a tour of Michigan in the mid 80's that included the Holland Tulip Festival and parade. It was a lot of fun and the state is beautiful.

12:48 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

I would sure love to see Warners do sets of some of the more "obscure" things like lesser-known Kathryn Grayson or Jane Powell musicals or some of the "B" movies I've written about lately!

How wonderful you visited the Tulip Festival! That's something I aspire to do one day. :)

Best wishes, Laura

12:52 PM  
Blogger Irene said...

Finally got around to seeing Bachelor Mother today (it's due back tomorrow). I loved it. Very funny and witty and Ginger and David make a great couple. Wonderful closeup shots of her, so pretty. And the baby was great.

Interesting that the Donald Duck toy had such a big part in this. Talk about product placement! I wonder how much those would be worth to a collector today! :o)

5:42 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

So glad you enjoyed BACHELOR MOTHER. I thought Ginger was absolutely lovely in it. Loved everything about it! :)

It's funny but I was thinking the same thing about the Donald Duck toy -- that maybe "product placement" isn't all that new a concept, LOL.

Best wishes, Laura

5:53 PM  

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