AFI Catalog of Feature Films
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On Moonlight Bay
Alternate Title: Moonlight Bay
Director: Roy Del Ruth (Dir)
Release Date:   28 Jul 1951
Premiere Information:   New York opening: 26 Jul 1951
Production Date:   early Jan--early Mar 1951
Duration (in mins):   94-95 or 98
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Cast:   Doris Day (Marjorie Winfield)  
    Gordon MacRae (William Sherman)  
    [Smilin'] Jack Smith (Hubert Wakley)  
    Leon Ames (George Winfield)  
    Rosemary De Camp (Alice Winfield)  
    Mary Wickes (Stella)  
    Ellen Corby (Miss Mary Stevens)  
    Billy Gray (Wesley Winfield)  
    Henry East (Dogman)  
    Jeffrey Stevens (Jim Sherman)  
    Eddie Marr (Barker)  
    Esther Dale (Aunt Martha)  
    Susan Whitney (Cora)  
    Ira Buck Woods (Mover)  
    Chester Jones (Mover)  
    John B. Williams (Mover)  
    Sherry Hall (Attendant)  
    Gayle Kellogg (Young man)  
    Sig Arno (Dancing instructor)  
    Joel Nestler (Boy)  
    Michael Miller (Boy)  
    John Hedloe (Senior)  
    Edmond Penny (Senior)  
    Jimmy Dobson (Soldier)  
    Joe Recht (Soldier)  
    Bert Davidson (Soldier)  
    Rolland Morris (Sleeping soldier)  
  Cast of the silent movie Lois Austin (Mother)  
    Creighton Hale (Father)  
    Ann Kimball (Daughter)  
    Ray Spiker (Bartender)  
    Hank Mann (Salesman)  
    Jack Mower (Salesman)  
    Ralph Montgomery (Salesman)  
    Melodi Lowell (Lady)  
    Susan Ridgeway (Lady)  
    Ann Moore (Lady)  

Summary: In 1917, banker George Winfield and his family, wife Alice, eighteen-year-old tomboy Marjorie, eleven-year-old Wesley and Max, the dog, move into a big new house. Although everyone, including Stella, the maid, hates the new house and neighborhood, George is determined that his children, particularly Margie, will have the opportunity to meet a better class of people. At his father's urging, Wesley makes friends with Jim Sherman, who offers to demonstrate his father's gun, which, Jim claims, was previously owned by Jesse James. After Margie joins some boys in a baseball game and scores the winning run, she sees Wesley and Jim take the gun into a barn. She runs off to stop them, but manages to accidentally discharge it, causing the barn door to collapse on Jim's older brother William. Bill initially mistakes Margie for a boy, but soon discovers she is a lovely young woman and comes courting. Equally taken with Bill, Margie enlists her mother's help and is transformed into a more feminine-looking woman. On their first date, Bill, who is a senior at the University of Indiana, claims to believe that the world situation is too serious for any form of entertainment. Nevertheless, he dances with Margie and then offers to win her a doll at a game booth. When he does not succeed, he loudly accuses the barker of running a dishonest game, and to prove his fairness, the man offers Margie three free throws. Tomboy Margie successfully completes them and, after some further argument, is given a doll. By the end of the evening, Bill and Margie have fallen in love. Some time later, George asks Bill what his intentions are toward Margie, and after Bill makes disparaging comments about bankers, George forbids him to see her. Margie's other suitor, stuffy music teacher Hubert Wakley, is more to her father's liking. One day, Wesley, having forgotten to write a letter for a school assignment, steals a love letter Margie is writing to Bill, who is now away at school. He is forced to read it aloud to the class and the romantic language makes him a laughingstock. Blaming Margie for his humiliation, Wesley decides to punish her by disrupting her date with Hubert, not knowing that she cannot stand him, and at the end of the afternoon, Margie rewards Wesley with a big hug. Margie has been secretly taking dancing lessons as a surprise for Bill, whom she has invited to a Christmas dance. On the way home, she is taunted by some boys and, in the ensuing snowball fight, slips and breaks her ankle. Later, Wesley watches a movie about the destructive effect that drinking has on one family, and when he is caught sleeping in class, spins a story for the teacher, Miss Mary Stevens, about his father's drunken behavior. On Christmas Eve, Bill arrives home and encounters Mary, who repeats Wesley's story. Horrified, Bill marches to the Winfields' house, determined to rescue Margie. Seeing George asleep on the couch, Bill mistakenly believes he is in a drunken stupor and throws a pitcher of water on him. His lie revealed, Wesley runs off to join a group of carolers led by Hubert. At the end of the school year, the Winfields attend Bill's graduation. While Bill makes a speech announcing that his entire class has enlisted in the Army, Margie informs her father that Bill does not believe in marriage, and an appalled George drags his entire family away. A brokenhearted Margie runs away and meets Bill on the troop train. Bill proposes, but George, who has followed her to the train, does not believe he is sincere. Later, on Wesley's twelfth birthday, George's aunt Martha brings Wesley cookies, a knife and a slingshot that she took away from George when he was a boy. During the birthday party, Bill arrives unexpectedly and formally asks George for permission to marry Margie. When George again refuses, Alice reminds him that he was once young and foolish, but it is only after Wesley breaks a window with George's old slingshot that he relents and Bill and Margie are married. 

Production Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Brand Name: A Warner Bros.--First National Picture
Distribution Company: Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.  
Director: Roy Del Ruth (Dir)
  Herschel Daugherty (Dial dir)
  Raoul Walsh (Fill-in dir)
  Melvin Dellar (Asst dir)
Producer: William Jacobs (Prod)
Writer: Jack Rose (Scr)
  Melville Shavelson (Scr)
Photography: Ernest Haller (Dir of photog)
Art Direction: Douglas Bacon (Art dir)
Film Editor: Thomas Reilly (Film ed)
Set Decoration: William Wallace (Set dec)
Costumes: Milo Anderson (Ward)
  Marjorie Best (Ward)
Music: Max Steiner (Mus adpt)
  Ray Heindorf (Mus dir)
Sound: Francis J. Scheid (Sd)
  David Forrest (Sd)
Special Effects: William McGann (Spec eff)
  H. F. Koenekamp (Spec eff)
Dance: LeRoy Prinz (Mus numbers staged and dir by)
Make Up: Gordon Bau (Makeup artist)
Color Personnel: Mitchell Kovaleski (Technicolor col consultant)
Country: United States
Language: English

Songs: "Moonlight Bay," words by Edward Madden, music by Percy Weinrich; "Cuddle Up a Little Closer, Lovey Mine" and "Every Little Movement," words and music by Otto Harback, Karl Hoschna; "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," words by Joseph Mohr, English words anonymous, music by Franz Gruber; "Pack Up Your Troubles in an Old Kit Bag and Smile, Smile Smile," words by George Asaf, music by Felix Powell; "Christmas Story," words and music by Pauline Walsh; "Love Ya," words and music by Charles Tobias and Peter De Rose; "Tell Me Why the Nights Are Lonely," words and music by Max Kortlander, W. J. Callahan; "I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles," words and music by Jean Kenbrovin, John William Kellette; "Till We Meet Again," words by Raymond B. Egan, music by Richard A. Whiting.
Composer: George Asaf
  W. J. Callahan
  Peter De Rose
  Raymond B. Egan
  Franz Gruber
  Otto Harback
  Karl Hoschna
  John William Kellette
  Jean Kenbrovin
  Max Kortlander
  Edward Madden
  Joseph Mohr
  Felix Powell
  Charles Tobias
  Pauline Walsh
  Percy Weinrich
  Richard A. Whiting
Source Text: Based on the novel Penrod by Booth Tarkington (New York, 1914) and his novel Penrod and Sam (New York, 1916).
Authors: Booth Tarkington

Copyright Claimant Copyright Date Copyright Number
Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc. 17/8/1951 dd/mm/yyyy LP1136

PCA NO: 14873
Physical Properties: Sd: RCA Sound System
  col: Technicolor

Genre: Musical
Sub-Genre: Domestic
Subjects (Major): Children
  Family relationships
Subjects (Minor): Aunts
  Broken limbs
  College students
  False accusations
  Motion pictures
  Proposals (Marital)
  World War I

Note: The film's working title was Moonlight Bay . The opening credits are superimposed over period photographs. HR news items reported that from 2 Mar--8 Mar 1951, director Roy Del Ruth was ill with the flu and Raoul Walsh took over directing duties in his absence. Although their appearance has not been confirmed, according to HR , Rudi Friml, Jr. and the Bob Mitchell Choir appeared in the picture. On Moonlight Bay marked the first feature film acting role of radio singer Jack Smith (1915--2006), popularly known as "Smiling" Jack Smith. The singer made his feature film debut as himself in the 1947 film Make Believe Ballroom (see above).
       In a letter to Jack L. Warner dated 31 Oct 1950, which was included in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, PCA head Joseph I. Breen objected to "William's theorizing against the institution of marriage, and for what amounts to a philosophy of free love. Such subjects are of far too serious a nature to be treated in a comedy atmosphere such as this." In the same letter, Breen also objected to the scene in which "Wesley" and "Jim" take "Jim's" father's gun into the barn. Breen wrote, "We feel it will be necessary to substitute some prop other than a gun for the children to be handling in these scenes. The danger of showing adolescents with guns in their hands is only too clear and we are of the firm opinion that such things should be kept off the screen." According to an article in NYT , the studio explained that the sequence was a classic of American humor and then proposed substituting a blunderbuss for the pistol. The PCA agreed to the substitution, believing that weapon to be less "gangsterish."
       On 5 May 1952, Gordon MacRae, Mary Wickes, Eddie Marr and Billy Gray reprised their roles for a radio adaptation of the film on Lux Radio Theatre . Jane Wyman played Doris Day's role, "Marjorie Winfield." Most of the cast members of On Moonlight Bay appeared together again in Warner Bros.' 1953 sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon , which was directed by David Butler (see entry above). For a description of other films based on the Penrod stories, see the entry for Penrod and Sam in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40

Bibliographic Sources:   Date   Page
Box Office   7 Jul 1951.   
Daily Variety   9 Jul 51   p. 3.
Film Daily   16 Jul 51   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   4 Jan 51   p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter   11 Jan 51   p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter   16 Feb 51   p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter   6 Mar 61   p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter   8 Mar 51   p. 8, 10.
Hollywood Reporter   9 Jul 51   p. 3.
Motion Picture Herald   14 Apr 1951.   
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest   14 Jul 51   p. 929.
New York Times   27 Oct 1950.   
New York Times   10 Dec 1950.   
New York Times   27 Jul 51   p. 15.
Variety   11 Jul 51   p. 6.

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.
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