Roy Del Ruth’s On Moonlight Bay (1951) is a fairly forgettable yet quaintly permissible and passable turn-of-the-century entertainment. Based on Booth Tarkington’s Penrod Stories, and with the overwhelming success of MGM’s Meet Me in St. Louis (1944) firmly in mind, this film stars Doris Day as Marjorie Winfield, a pert and plucky tomboy who begins a romance with the boy next door, William Sherman (Gordon MacRae).
Will is a free thinker – unimpressed by material possessions and not terribly interested in marriage either; just two departures from the status quo that land him in hot water with Marjorie’s dad, George (Leon Ames); a die-hard capitalist banker who does not see his daughter’s future tied to this impressionable upstart.
At first Marjorie takes her father’s side. After all, she has her reputation to consider. Ah, but then there’s Will’s soothing and melodic vocals to sway and anesthetize her common sense. In no time, Will has completely won Marjorie over. Daddy is another story.
Apart from Charles Tobias and Peter De Rose’s ‘Love Ya’ – the rest of the score is a potpourri of traditional ballads, including ‘Till We Meet Again’, ‘Cuddle Up A Little Closer’ and ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles.’
Featherweight and not nearly as impressive as MGM's Meet Me In St. Louis, the film it is so clearly and desperately trying to emulate, On Moonlight Bay is nevertheless enjoyable, if fairly antiseptic fun. The Jack Rose/Melville Havelson script struggles for something to say. The vignettes of early 20th century living are adorable enough, but tend to grow long in the tooth and remain detached from the central narrative, which really doesn’t have much more of a social comment to make except to young love…‘ain’t it grand?’
Warner Home Video’s DVD exhibits a fine Technicolor transfer. Colors, for the most part, are bold vibrant and true. Flesh tones are pasty pink. 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)