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HERE COMES THE GROOM (director: Frank Capra; screenwriters: Virginia Van Upp/Liam O’Brien/Myles Connolly/from a story by Robert Riskin & Liam O’Brien; cinematographer: George Barnes; editor: Ellsworth Hoagland; music: songs by Hoagy Carmichael & Johnny Mercer, Jay Livingston & Ray Evans; cast: Bing Crosby (Peter Garvey), Jane Wyman (Emmadel Jones), Alexis Smith (Winifred Stanley), Franchot Tone (Wilbur Stanley), James Barton (Pa Jones), Robert Keith (George Degnan), Jacques Gencel (Robert Dulac), Beverly Washburn (Suzi), Theresa (Anna Maria Alberghetti); Runtime: 113; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Frank Capra; Paramount; 1951)
“Capra desperately tries to capture his prewar whimsical mood.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Frank Capra (“Riding High”/”You Can’t Take It with You”/”It’s a Wonderful Life”) directs one his last films; he was to make only two more feature films, A Hole in the Head (1959) and Pocketful of Miracles (1961), before retiring. It’s a very average musical/comedy with a sentimental story by Robert Riskin and Liam O’Brien; it’s penned by Virginia Van Upp, Liam O’Brien and Myles Connolly. Capra desperately tries to capture his prewar whimsical mood, but the result is a tedious and vulgar comedy that’s helped considerably only by the music. It won an Oscar for the Hoagy Carmichael & Johnny Mercer song “In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening,” which is wonderfully sung as a duet by Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman. The other outstanding musical number is “Misto Cristofo Columbo,” with an all-star jam session aboard a plane with Crosby and guest performers Dorothy Lamour, Louis Armstrong, and Phil Harris all playing USO entertainers.

Peter Garvey (Bing Crosby) is a happy-go-lucky newspaper reporter for The Boston Morning Express assigned as a foreign correspondent the last three years to Paris to write stories about war orphans, where he lives in the orphanage and becomes very attached to the children. But his editor George Degnan (Robert Keith) calls him back home, saying war orphan stories are no longer news. Before leaving Pete receives a phonograph record from his longtime fiancée Emmadel “Emmy” Jones (Jane Wyman), who is miffed he hasn’t married her yet. Pete wires Emmy that he is coming home to marry her, and is bringing “a surprise” with him–he intends to adopt two war orphans that are attached to him, the 11-year-old Bobby Dulac (Jacques Gencel) and the 7-year-old Suzy (Beverly Washburn). Unfortunately he misses the plane home as he has trouble getting the adoption processed. A few months later he takes the cute children to America, but is told if he doesn’t get married within a week the children will have to return to the Paris orphanage. In Boston he discovers Emmy got tired waiting for him and within the week is expected to marry her boss Wilbur Stanley (Franchot Tone), a handsome, nice-guy, multi-millionaire from an old New England society family. The film then has the dull plot line of the two men competing for the damsel. Conspiring with Wilbur’s distant cousin Winifred (Alexis Smith), who is secretly in love with Wilbur, Pete tries for the remainder of the film to win Emmy back. It comes with a gooey contrived happy ending that is just too silly to give it even a second thought, though some folks affectionately call that sort of mush Capraesque.

The film launched the career of the fourteen-year-old Italian girl Anna Maria Alberghetti, in her second film (her other was a little seen opera film called The Medium from 1951), who plays a blind orphan who sings the opera aria “Caro Nome” from Verdi’s opera Rigoletto, to get herself adopted by a sophisticated Boston couple–with her new father a famous Boston symphony conductor. It was acclaimed by critics and was a box office hit.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”