Ray Milland, Ginger Rogers, Warner Baxter, and Jon Hall in Lady in the Dark (1944)


(director: Mitchell Leisen; screenwriter: from the stage musical by Moss Hart/Albert Hackett/Frances Goodrich; cinematographer: Ray Rennahan; editor: Alma Macrorie; music: Robert Emmett Dolan; cast: Phyllis Brooks (Allison DuBois), Ginger Rogers (Liza Elliott ), Ray Milland (Charley Johnson), Jon Hall (Randy Curtis), Warner Baxter (Kendall Nesbitt), Barry Sullivan (Dr. Brooks), Mischa Auer (Russell Paxton); Runtime: 100; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Mitchell Leisen; Paramount; 1944)

The wartime musical comedy provided upbeat entertainment for the troubling times through its music and stunning visuals.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Lavishly produced adaptation of Moss Hart’s smash-hit 1941 Broadway play. Most of the music is by Kurt Weill and the lyrics by Ira Gershwin. In addition ‘Suddenly It’s Spring’ was written by Johnny Burke and James Van Heusen. Mitchell Leisen(“To Each His Own”/”Easy Living”/”Midnight”) adequately directs but the film falls short of the play as noted by those critics who saw both. The reason for that is the studio hired a new cast, cut key songs from the play such as the play’s theme song ‘My Ship,’ and further tore the heart out of the intelligent story by soft-pedaling its damsel in mental distress tale considerably. Blame for the film being weakened is attributed to Paramount head Buddy de Sylva.

Fashion magazine editor Liza Elliott (Ginger Rogers), on a high-powered NYC ‘zine, is on the verge of a nervous breakdown due to stress over the job demands, worrisome dreams and concerns over her three romantic men friends. They are the middle-aged magazine backer (Warner Baxter), the handsome self-reliant underling (Ray Milland), and the hunky movie star (Jon Hall). The troubled editor consults a noted Freudian shrink (Barry Sullivan). At first she resists bringing up her emotional childhood traumas on the couch, but soon learns to pay attention to her dreams and as a result seems to get better.

Ray Milland stands out playing Ginger’s ad man employee, the one who won’t give in to his woman boss’s feelings of superiority.

The wartime musical comedy provided upbeat entertainment for the troubling times through its music and stunning visuals. Too bad the slight story was a stinker and the acting for the most part was only fair.