This week’s musical: Do You Love Me (1946)
Studio: 20th Century- Fox
Director: Gregory Ratoff
Plot: Conservative Katherine Hilliard (O’Hara) is dean of a stuffy music school, following in her father’s footsteps, and is allergic to popular music. She is engaged to her similarly stuffy colleague, Ralph (Gaines). Katherine takes a trip to New York to consult with her composer colleague Herbert Benham (Gardiner) about the upcoming spring music festival. On her way to New York, Katherine meets trumpet player Barry Clayton (James), who insults her by saying she is too stuffy to appreciate popular music. After relaying this to Herbert, he encourages her to loosen up and have fun. Katherine takes his advice, catching the attention of Barry and his band’s crooner, Jimmy Hale (Haymes).
-Maureen O’Hara called this “The worst picture I ever made” in her 2004 autobiography, Tis Herself.
-Produced by famed comic/singer George Jessel.
-Betty Grable, who was married to Harry James at the time, makes a cameo as a fan of his.
-The fashion show shopping montage of outfits.
-Grable’s cameo at the end of the film.
-“St. Louis Blues,” performed by Harry James and his band
-“Do You Love Me,” performed by Dick Haymes
-“Moonlight Propoganda,” performed by Dick Haymes
The plot isn’t substantial and fairly predictable. It is the usual but fun 1930s or 1940s plot of a conservative teacher coming from a stuffy college and eventually letting her hair down and having fun. It may not be O’Hara’s best performance, but it is fun and has some great music if you like big band.
For me the two biggest highlights:
- Seeing O’Hara and her glorious film wardrobe in Technicolor. I’m a sucker for film fashion and movie makeovers, and I enjoyed seeing her transformation from teacher to glamour girl. This film also features a highlight for any lover of vintage clothing: a scene where the main actress goes shopping at an upscale store and multiple gowns are modeled for her.
- Hearing bandleader and trumpeter Harry James perform. It’s a highlight to see big band leaders of the time in classic films. It gives you a good feel of what was popular and music at that time, and you also get to see these performers talking and in person rather than just hearing them on a recording.
The biggest highlight was a cameo by Betty Grable at the end as a fan of Harry James. Betty Grable was one of Fox’s top stars and she and James were married at the time. It was a witty and adorable comedic moment. The brief scene is similar to any joke in a contemporary film or TV show that ties in a pop culture or current event reference.
I would also be remiss if I did not mention Reginald Gardiner’s role in this as O’Hara’s colleague and friend. Gardiner is the one who encourages O’Hara’s character to literally let down her hair and have fun for once. Whether he is playing a snob, a cad or the humorous best friend, Gardiner’s characters are always a delight.
Do You Love Me was downright fun with some genuine laugh out loud moments. If you have the opportunity to see this film and are looking for a colorful way to brighten your day, I encourage you to do so.
Comet Over Hollywood owner Jessica Pickens is a classic film lover, but her trade is healthcare public relations. She formerly was a reporter in North Carolina, similar to Torchy Blane. Since Comet Over Hollywood was introduced in 2009, Pickens has interviewed actors James Best and Dolores Hart and covered the 2013, 2014 and 2015 Turner Classic Movies Film Festival in Los Angeles. Visit her Facebook page.