David Butler’s By The Light of the Silvery Moon (1953) is a cordial wrap-up and sequel of sorts to Roy Del Ruth’s On Moonlight Bay (1951), and it marks Doris Day’s final association with Gordon MacRae. The two had made 5 movies together. Ever a definitive example of style and song triumphing over substance – the film is a featherweight concoction of musical vignettes skillfully strung together by Irving Elinson and Robert O’Brien’s adroit and often humorous screenplay.
Will Sherman (Gordon MacRae) returns from WWI. But his hasty pre-war proposal to Marjorie Winfield (Doris Day) is not nearly as close to his heart as it once was – all the worse for Marjorie who cannot wait for Will’s return; a chronic source of consternation for Marjorie’s father, George (Leon Ames).
Loosely based on Booth Tarkington’s Penrod stories, the subplots are varied and largely forgettable; including one involving actresses who want to rent the Winfield’s barn, but who take on a spurious coloring when Marjorie’s younger brother, Wesley (Billy Gray) thinks the eldest is romantically after their father.
Again, plot is not as essential as the characterizations and settings. Wisely recalling the importance of their supporting cast; Mary Wickes returns as the irrepressible maid, Stella. Rosemary DeCamp, as Mother Winfield, is the ideal foil for her blustering husband…and Gordon MacRae – given a more intensive stint as a dancer, proves that although he is no Gene Kelly, he is amiable and light on his feet. For the rest, Day and MacRae flesh out the story with another bumper crop of Tin Pan Alley standards; the melodic, I’ll Forget You,’ playfully coy, Be My Little Bumble Bee and spirited Ain’t We Got Fun.
Warner Home Video’s DVD exhibits a fine Technicolor transfer. Colors, for the most part, are bold vibrant and true to their original spectrum. Flesh tones are a tad more pasty pink than they out to be. Contrast levels are nicely realized. Blacks are deep and solid. Whites, generally clean – though occasionally adopting a slight bluish tint. Technicolor misregistration occurs sporadically throughout.
The audio is Mono but adequately represented. One wishes that Warner had had the foresight to remaster at least the songs in 5.1 Dolby Digital from the original directionalized audio stems used to create the mono mix. Short subjects are the only extra feature.
FILM RATING (out of 5 - 5 being the best)