Sunday, March 17, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Top o' the Morning (1949)

This year's St. Patrick's Day viewing was TOP O' THE MORNING, starring Bing Crosby, Ann Blyth, and Barry Fitzgerald.

Although the film has a marvelous cast, it's only mildly entertaining, with the story stumbling along in fits and starts, though it does pick up speed in the last half. I also found the Irish brogues curiously difficult to follow at times; I have no such problems with other films set in Ireland, such as THE QUIET MAN (1952), so that was a bit odd. I think some of the actors struggled to simultaneously maintain the accent and speak distinctly.

Crosby plays a New York insurance investigator sent to Ireland to search for the missing Blarney Stone. Yes, it's been stolen! Barry Fitzgerald plays the ineffectual police sergeant in a nearby town, with Blyth playing his pretty daughter, Conn, and Hume Cronyn is his assistant, Hughie. John McIntire, who later appeared in Blyth's charming comedy SALLY AND SAINT ANNE (1952), plays a police inspector working on the case.

Very little happens in this rather slow-moving film, which spends a great deal of time on the mysterious prediction of a townswoman (Eileen Crowe) regarding who will marry Conn; eventually, of course, the Blarney Stone mystery is solved and true love prevails.

The best moments, not surprisingly, involve music; I liked the singing at a town dance and a later Crosby-Blyth duet of "Oh, 'Tis Sweet to Think." Two new songs were written for the film by Jimmy Van Heusen and Johnny Burke, including the title song which is heard during the credits, as well as later in the film.

Crosby is his usual relaxed self, although combined with the lack of much story, the movie was maybe a little too relaxed!

I love Ann Blyth so I was happy to see another of her films. My tribute to Ann Blyth posted last summer can be found here. Next month she'll be appearing in person at TCM Classic Film Festival screenings of MILDRED PIERCE (1945) and KISMET (1955).

The 25-year age difference between Crosby and Blyth felt a little awkward to me, although a similar 24-year age difference between Blyth and Robert Montgomery was used to good comic effect in the delightful romantic comedy ONCE MORE, MY DARLING (1949) the very same year. And as it happens, Crosby later married an actress who was three decades his junior and they were married until he died three decades later, so...whatever!

Small roles are filled by Jimmy Hunt, Laura Elliot (Kasey Rogers), Olin Howlin, and Mary Field. It's curious to note that Barry Fitzgerald's brother, actor Arthur Shields, was billed in the opening credits as "Technical Advisor"; he only worked on the film behind the scenes, not in front of the camera.

TOP O' THE MORNING was directed by David Miller. The screenplay of this 100-minute film was by Edmund Beloin and Richard L. Breen. The black and white cinematography was by Lionel Lindon.


Blogger David Lobosco said...

Great review. I am a huge Bing and I have never saw this movie. I have it on DVD so I'll have to dig it out. Thanks!

5:00 AM  
Blogger Vienna said...

I'm always on the lookout for Ann Blythe films and enjoyed reading your tribute to Ann last August and your review of Once More My Darling which will go immediately to my 'Wanted' list,now that I want to see more of Robert Montgomery ( and great to hear Jane Cowl and Charles McGraw are in this one)
An actress know primarily for her lovely singing voice, Ann Blyth from Mildred Pierce on showed she was very good in drama too. I like her in I'LL NEVER FORGET YOU,ALL TH BROTHERS WERE VALIANT,THUNDER ON THE HILL.
I never did understand why Ann was dubbed in THE HELEN MORGAN STORY. if you listen to Helen Morgan's voice, it's obvious Ann's voice was much more suited than Gogi Grant.

6:23 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

This film unfortunately brought the team of Fitzgerald and Crosby to a conclusion. I agree with your assessment of the film but the guys are still fun.

7:21 AM  

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