Golden Girl Film Details
Overview: Against the background of the Civil War, sixteen-year-old song-and-dance artiste Lotta Crabtree works her way across America, becoming ever more popular.
Review: This budget(B) Fox musical romance provided vivacious singer/dancer/actress Mitzy Gaynor with her first starring role, after an initial subsidiary role as a man-hungry young dancer, in the Betty Grable-Dan Dailey musical “My Blue Heaven”. It also features the singing of well-established cherry-cheeked Irish tenor Dennis Day, Mitzy’s constant stage partner wherever she roams. I thought Mitzi made a great partner for him, except he couldn’t match her more exuberant dancing. He comes across much better when performing with Mitzi, rather than solo. Strange that his character wasn’t cast as her brother, rather than as a presumably casual romantic interest. In his several appearances in Fox musicals, Day was never the romantic lead. Apparently, his prior image, developed over years, as Jack Benny’s squarish foil and singer, along with his slight build, was thought to bias audiences against accepting him as the romantic lead. Also, today’s viewers tend to find him rather stiff as an actor and his singing style dated. Instead, ruggedly handsome Dale Robertson, fixture of cinema and TV westerns, is cast as the mysterious, on the sly, romantic lead. His rather tenuous romance with man-starved Lotta(Mitzi) provides much of the melodrama in the film. The plot is loosely based on the early stage career of famed entertainer Lotta Crabtree, of the mid-19th century. Guided by her domineering quintessential stage mother, Lotta made a fortune for her natal family, performing mainly for women-starved California gold miners and well-heeled patrons in big cities across the US. After spending her early childhood in NYC, her father got gold fever and moved the family to CA. Unsuccessful at finding gold, they decided to mine the miners, first by providing room and board,before providing stage entertainment from their young daughter(initially only 6, not 16, as in the film!). As the screen play suggests, European stage entertainer and courtesan Lola Montez also arrived in CA to mine the miners and, as a neighbor, did serve as a model for young Lotta. However, Lotta’s mother was much more important in promoting her career over the long run. A middle-aged Una Merkel plays Lotta’s watchful mother. I barely recognized her, remembering her as a cute pixie-like peroxide blond in a couple of mid-30s musicals with Eleanor Powell. In the film, as well as in real life, Lotta’s mother discouraged serious romantic attachments by her daughter, fearing loss of control over her money maker. James Barton, one time song and dance man, plays Lotta’s father, also an aging song and dance man, who replaces Day as Mitzi’s partner in a couple of numbers, most notably to “California Moon”. He had played a rather similar role in the Fox musicals of the previous year “Wabash Avenue” and “The Daughter of Rosie O’Grady” Why do I suggest this film can be thought of as a musical “Virginia City”?This latter 1940 Errol Flynn-Randy Scott film dramatized an attempt to transport a gold shipment from Nevada to Texas to help bolster a nearly dead Confederacy. In the present film, Robertson, as Tom Richmond(an appropriate Confederate name!), combines the former roles of Scott as a Confederate undercover agent and Humphrey Bogart’s role as the leader of Mexican bandidos, in his robbery of gold shipments within CA, to be sent by ship to the Confederate government. As in the former film, it ends with several symbolic indications of an imminent reunion of a divided country, including the suggested romantic union of a Yankee and secessionist in both films. In the present film, this also includes an emotional singing of “Dixie” on a NYC stage, with the patrons initially reacting hostilely, then joining in the song after a Day tongue lashing. The songs include a mixed bag of well known traditional songs composed in the mid-19th century, and a number of obscure new songs. The closing credits suggest that the several times-featured “California Moon”, along with “Never” and Sunday Morning” were composed for this film. The catchy “Oh, Dem Golden Slippers”, featured several times, including in the closing credits, was actually composed after the Civil War. However, “Dixie”, “Kiss Me Quick and Go”, “When Johhny Comes Marching Home”, and “Carry Me Back to Old Virginny” are legitimate Civil War era songs. Mitzi gets to do some of her high kicks and ballet dancing a few times, but the conservative dress and mores of the theater of those times limit the extent of her more acrobatic dancing, seen in some other films. This film established that Mitzi could carry the lead acting part, as well as the singing and dancing in a film. Unfortunately, Fox continued to treat her like a B star, thus she opted out of her contract after 4 years. She did get a costarring role in “There’s No Business Like Show Business”, but had to share the female starring role with Ethel Merman and Marilyn Monroe. Fox sensed that the latter had greater audience appeal than Mitzi, although not for me. I enjoyed her several stage performances and off-stage role in that film. Unfortunately, she would continue to get occasional roles in mediocre films, until snapped up for the film version of “South Pacific”(not really my favorite Mitzi film). Fortunately, her Las Vegas and TV careers seem to have been more satisfying than her too limited Hollywood career… This film is currently available at amazon.com as a made-on-order only DVD. I can’t comment on its quality. Much of the non-stage portions, especially those including Robertson, are rather dark, taking place at night or in a poorly lit room.
Duration: 108 min
Genre: Drama, Musical, Western
Also known as: Golden Girl,Kultainen tyttö,Hryso mou, koritsi,Uma Aventura Maravilhosa,ゴールデンガール,La chica de oro,Un’avventura meravigliosa,A Vênus de Ouro,Une fille en or,Altın kız,A Bela Carlota,Pike med pepp