I'll See You In My Dreams (1951)

Lyricist Gus Kahn may not be as widely remembered today as many of his contemporaries, yet the songs he wrote with a variety of composers are just as fondly recalled. Similarly, this biopic is not as well known today as other musical biopics of the era, yet it ranks among the best.

 

Encouraged by song promotor Grace LeBoy to write songs that enable boys to tell girls they love them in 32 bars of music, Kahn sets about penning some of the early 20th Century’s biggest hits. After writing the music to the first of these LeBoy inspired Kahn to greater success, encouraging him to partner with other composers and persuading him to leave their family home to work with Florenz Ziegfeld. Yet the unwavering support LeBoy provided her husband came to be viewed by some as unwelcome meddling, exacerbated by the twin disrupters of the 1929 stock market crash and the growing popularity of radio.

 

In his first lead role, Danny Thomas exudes a relaxed natural charm that is perfectly matched with co-star Doris Day. The fun that their easy-going banter and familiarity engenders, typified by their duet of "Makin’ Whoopee", is infectious. They are ably supported by Mary Wickes, James Gleason and a soundtrack that includes such standards as It Had to Be You, Carolina in the Morning,  Ain’t We Got Fun and San Francisco. 

 

Though his name may be a forgotten since his death in 1941 Kahn’s songs continued to chart, providing hits for Nina Simone and the Mamas and Papas.

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In April 1952, Associated Press reported the following -

 

S0NG WRITER'S WIDOW FILES $450,000 SUIT Salt Lake City, UTAH. Mrs. Dorothy Donaldson of Los Angeles, widow of the song writer, Walter Donaldson, has filed suit in third district court here asking damages of $450,000. Named defendants were Warner Bros. Pictures, Inc.; Warner Bros. Distributing Corp. and Intermountain Theatres, the latter a company operating movie houses. The suit charges that the picture, "I'll See You in My Dreams," is damaging to the reputation of Donaldson. The complaint charges that the late song writer is portrayed in the picture as a "gambler, rake, lover of wild parties and promoter of marital discords.”

Despite covering Kahn’s foray into Hollywood, which is depicted as being demoralising, there are no scene recreations in this biopic.

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