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Matt Hough

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A period musical comedy featuring a slice-of-Americana circa 1917, Roy Del Ruth’s On Moonlight Bay offers attractive and talented stars, a spiffy Technicolor production, and flavorful songs and dances of an era long since past.



On Moonlight Bay (1951)



Released: N/A
Rated: Approved
Runtime: 95 min




Director: Roy Del Ruth
Genre: Comedy, Family, Musical, Romance



Cast: Doris Day, Gordon MacRae, Jack Smith, Leon Ames
Writer(s): Jack Rose (screenplay), Melville Shavelson (screenplay), Booth Tarkington (adapted from Penrod Stories by)



Plot: During World War I, a teenage girl begins a romance with a college student, but his unconventional attitudes cause friction with her father.



IMDB rating: 7.1
MetaScore: 65





Disc Information...

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RobertMG

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Should have gotten Billy Gray to talk about making the film!
 

Will Krupp

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Care to elucidate? :)
I apologize, I shouldn't have been so mysterious.

Billy Gray played a heroin dealer named "City" in DUSTY AND SWEETS McGEE (1971.) Director Floyd Mutrux used a lot of actual heroin addicts in the movie but Billy wasn't one of them, he was just an actor (and, apparently, quite a convincing one.) Leonard Maltin, starting with his annual movie guide for 1974, identified "Billy Gray of FATHER KNOWS BEST fame" by name AS a real live heroin addict/pusher and basically said, in print, that he was just playing himself. He had no idea that Maltin had done this and, when the guide came out, his reputation was severely damaged for years as a result of what Maltin wrote. People just assumed it was true because it tracked with the "ex-child star gone wrong" trope and it cost him jobs. Gray launched a libel suit against him and the case was settled in 1998. Maltin was court ordered to publicly apologize at a press conference for the years long "mistake." His team had long maintained a defense of "we only reported the information that the studio sent us."
 
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Matt Hough

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I apologize, I shouldn't have been so mysterious.

Billy Gray played a heroin dealer named "City" in DUSTY AND SWEETS McGEE (1971.) Director Floyd Mutrux used a lot of actual heroin addicts in the movie but Billy wasn't one of them, he was just an actor (and, apparently, quite a convincing one.) Leonard Maltin, starting with his annual movie guide for 1974, identified "Billy Gray of FATHER KNOWS BEST fame" by name AS a real live heroin addict/pusher and basically said, in print, that he was just playing himself. He had no idea that Maltin had done this and, when the guide came out, his reputation was severely damaged for years as a result of what Maltin wrote. People just assumed it was true because it tracked with the "ex-child star gone wrong" trope and it cost him jobs. Gray launched a libel suit against him and the case was settled in 1998. Maltin was court ordered to publicly apologize at a press conference for the years long "mistake." His team had long maintained a defense of "we only reported the information that the studio sent us."
I had never heard this story, but I HAD (much to my shame) believed the gossip about his being a drug addict. I'm very sorry such an accomplished actor had to endure this mistreatment. Thanks for setting the record (and me) aright.
 
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Will Krupp

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I had never heard this story, but I HAD (much to my shame) believed the gossip about his being a drug addict. I'm very sorry such an accomplished actor had to endure this mistreatment. Thanks for setting the record (and me) aright.

Well it's understandable that we would believe it because it fits so neatly into the "child star" morality tale we all know so well. Apparently there were other parties initially involved with the suit and it all stems from misleading information in the original press kit, which SHOULD have been vetted more carefully before defamatory articles were ever published. I feel terrible for him, too.

A few more details can be found here:

 

Harold Chasen

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Alas, your story of what happened between Leonard Maltin and Billy Gray is far more entertaining than On Moonlight Bay.

Knowing that it was coming out on a Warner Archive Blu-Ray, I tried to watch it (for the first time) on TCM, only to give up about half way through. It's not bad, just ordinary; something to pass the time, but not something I need to rewatch or own. And it really shows just how special Meet Me In St. Louis is. On the surface, that should be as ordinary as On Moonlight Bay, but it sure isn't!
 

Mark-P

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Alas, your story of what happened between Leonard Maltin and Billy Gray is far more entertaining than On Moonlight Bay.

Knowing that it was coming out on a Warner Archive Blu-Ray, I tried to watch it (for the first time) on TCM, only to give up about half way through. It's not bad, just ordinary; something to pass the time, but not something I need to rewatch or own. And it really shows just how special Meet Me In St. Louis is. On the surface, that should be as ordinary as On Moonlight Bay, but it sure isn't!
Meet Me in St. Louis is a bit of a high bar to live up to, but I think that On Moonlight Bay and its sequel By the Light of the Silvery Moon are much better than just “ordinary”. I have a real fondness for these adaptations of Booth Tarkington’s Penrod stories.
 
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Malcolm R

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I've never understood the love for MMSL. I tried watching it a second time, to see if I missed something. Nope. Still don't like it.

Here's hoping this film is better.
 
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Malcolm R

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I guest some people don't like Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas ... ;)
The music is the only highlight of that film. Most of the central characters are awful people and deserve to be run down by a trolley.
 
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JohnMor

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The music is the only highlight of that film. Most of the central characters are awful people and deserve to be run down by a trolley.
Awful people? To each his own, but I don’t find a single character in that film to be anything less than ordinarily decent, if a bit bombastic in the case of the father.
 

BarryR

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I apologize, I shouldn't have been so mysterious.

Billy Gray played a heroin dealer named "City" in DUSTY AND SWEETS McGEE (1971.) Director Floyd Mutrux used a lot of actual heroin addicts in the movie but Billy wasn't one of them, he was just an actor (and, apparently, quite a convincing one.) Leonard Maltin, starting with his annual movie guide for 1974, identified "Billy Gray of FATHER KNOWS BEST fame" by name AS a real live heroin addict/pusher and basically said, in print, that he was just playing himself. He had no idea that Maltin had done this and, when the guide came out, his reputation was severely damaged for years as a result of what Maltin wrote. People just assumed it was true because it tracked with the "ex-child star gone wrong" trope and it cost him jobs. Gray launched a libel suit against him and the case was settled in 1998. Maltin was court ordered to publicly apologize at a press conference for the years long "mistake." His team had long maintained a defense of "we only reported the information that the studio sent us."
Thanks for the info! Amazed Maltin could be that careless.
 

roxy1927

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Are we talking about one of MGM's crown jewels MMISL? I think I missed something here.
 

Joel Arndt

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Are we talking about one of MGM's crown jewels MMISL? I think I missed something here.
Yes, to each his own. MMISL is a masterpiece, but On Moonlight Bay has many charms of its own. Love Mary Wickes and Day and MacRae have great chemistry along with two of the best singing voices ever in film. Looking forward to having this in my hands next Tuesday. Great review as always Matt.
 
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Egore

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Regarding Billy Gray, I remember reading in a Houston newspaper that Billy Gray had been arrested for the possession of marihuana. This was either in the late fifties, or the early sixties. Pot is not heroin--- all I'm saying is, Billy Gray wasn't completely unacquainted with the drug scene in his youth. This story was carried nationally, so Maltin may have heard about this news story second hand with the details exaggerated. The other surprise in that newspaper article was it said Billy was in his twenties when he was still playing a teenager on Father Knows Best. I was surprised, because I always assumed we were the same age. I only wound up on this thread because I couldn't figure out what MMISL is---- now I know.
 

Mike Frezon

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I've got On Moonlight Bay pre-ordered. I have the WB DVD of By the Light of the Silvery Moon (another film which has sat unwatched in my collection for years).

So, someday soon, Peg and I will be having a bit of a Doris Day/Gordon MacRae film festival. I guess they co-starred in a third film?
 
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