Cast & Crew
When famed New York opera singer Renaldo Rossano is classified 1-A and inducted into the army, he leaves behind his beloved mother, his jealous co-star and girl friend, Francesca Landers, and manager, Albert Parkson Foster. As soon as Renaldo arrives at the train station near the army base, his expensive clothes and adoring fans irritate the receiving sergeant and other recruits. On the base, Renaldo is assigned to tough platoon leader Sgt. "Bat" Batterson. The opera-loving Bat is overjoyed to have his idol in his platoon and grants Renaldo special privileges, as he asks him to meet his sister Bridget, who sings on the radio. Hoping to use the situation to his advantage, Renaldo says that he will have his manager audition Bridget "if" he ever gets to New York again. Although company Capt. Burton Nordell Loring openly disapproves of Bat's fawning over Renaldo, Bat assures Renaldo that there is nothing to worry about because sergeants run the army. Sometime later, Bat takes Renaldo into town to meet his girl friend, Patty Ware, and Bridget. Bridget is annoyed that Bat is pushing her career, so, instead of an aria, she performs the commercial jingle she sings on the radio. Renaldo is attracted to Bridget and tells her that she must "sing from the heart." Patty and Bat then go to dinner, after Bat tells Renaldo to meet them at the restaurant. When Bridget and Renaldo finally show up, Renaldo, who finds Bridget more interesting than her voice, sings a love song as they dance. At just that moment, Loring arrives at the restaurant and sternly tells Bat that Renaldo is AWOL. Bat pretends to be angry with Renaldo and orders him back to the base, but after Loring leaves, Bat apologizes. Walking back to the barracks, Renaldo says that he has made a date with Bridget for Easter Sunday and asks Bat to think of something to save him from punishment duty. As they pass the company church, Renaldo hears a WAC organist playing "The Lord's Prayer" and asks if he can accompany her. Seeing some officers listen appreciatively, the chaplain arranges for Renaldo to sing at Easter services. On Easter, Gen. Montville and his wife are delighted to meet Renaldo's mother, who is paying a surprise visit to her son. Renaldo introduces his mother to Bat, Patty and Bridget, then, to Loring's annoyance, the four drive into town with the general's permission. That afternoon, Renaldo confesses to Bridget that he is in love with her and assures Bat that his intentions are honorable. Renaldo then telephones Albert in New York to ask him to give Bridget an audition on the same night as his planned recording session. Unknown to either of them, Francesca, who is visiting Albert, is listening in on an extension. Back at the base, three of Renaldo's fellow soldiers, Artie Pilcer, Ben Jones and Horsey have become resentful of his special treatment, so Horsey complains to Loring. Bat later learns that his and Renaldo's trip to New York for the audition is impossible because Loring has cancelled all passes prior to an upcoming visit by United Nations dignitaries. The resourceful Bat appeals to Mrs. Montville, who talks her husband into giving both Bat and Renaldo passes, in exchange for Renaldo performing for the dignitaries. In New York, as Albert and Francesca wait for Renaldo in the recording studio, the scheming Francesca upsets Bridget by saying that Renaldo frequently arranges for auditions for attractive women, but has always been in love with her. When Bat and Renaldo arrive, Francesca takes Bat aside and suggests that Renaldo used him to get to New York for the recording session because he needed money. Later, while Renaldo and Francesca are recording, Bat and Bridget discuss what they have been told and decide to leave. When the session is over, Renaldo finds a note from Bridget and becomes furious with Francesca. The next morning, Renaldo barely makes it back to the platoon by roll call and finds that Bat has turned against him. Because Renaldo stubbornly refuses to directly refute Francesca's accusations, he soon finds himself mired in punishment duty. At first Pilcer, Jones and Horsey are delighted by Renaldo's comeuppance, but later feel sorry for him. When Montville orders Loring to have Renaldo start rehearsing for the UN visit, Loring pressures Bat, who orders Renaldo to rehearse. He refuses, though, saying that he has no obligation to perform non-military duties. Because Loring has threatened Bat with reassignment to Iceland if Renaldo does not sing, Patty begs him to apologize to Renaldo, but Bat refuses. Meanwhile, in New York, Mrs. Rossano goes to see Bridget and tells her that Renaldo is really in love with her. Bridget then goes to the base and tells Renaldo she loves him, but he thinks that she is merely trying to help Bat. In the barracks that night, Renaldo accuses Bat of using Bridget, and the two men begin fighting. Just then, Loring arrives and orders them into the stockade. From adjoining cells, Renaldo and Bat talk and soon realize they had been wrong about each other and that Bridget really does love Renaldo. When Pilcer, Jones and Horsey stop by, Renaldo asks their help with his plan to have Patty talk with Mrs. Montville about convincing her husband to let Renaldo sing. Mrs. Montville, in turn, talks to the general but he insists that military discipline must be maintained. On the day of the UN visit, Bat and Renaldo are still in the stockade, thinking their situation is hopeless, when Renaldo spies his friend, French general Pierre Montal. When he starts to sing, Montal instantly recognizes his old friend's voice. A short time later, Renaldo is performing for the dignitaries, much to Loring's chagrin. Renaldo then asks Bridget to join him to sing a duet.
Gerald H. Wayne
William "bill" Phillips
Jo Ella Wright
Mary Jane French
Fred Datig Jr.
Ruth Brooks Flippen
Robert P. Fox
A. Arnold Gillespie
Albert Hay Malotte
Francesco Maria Piave
Edwin B. Willis
Because You're Mine
Joe Pasternak, who had produced all of Lanza's films, thought the lightweight story would provide a nice change of pace after the lavish period production of The Great Caruso (1951), both for the fans and the studio's balance books. Of course, there was no such thing as a small picture at MGM. Pasternak gave Lanza an Oscar®-winning cinematographer, Joseph Ruttenberg, and a strong cast including James Whitmore, Spring Byington and rising Broadway star Doretta Morrow, fresh from her role as Tuptim in The King and I. He even cast the singer's parents as fans seeing him off at a train station.
The studio also pulled out all the stops with the score. Not only did they reprise Lanza's biggest hit, "Be My Love" from The Toast of New Orleans (1950) (though here it was sung by Morrow), but they hired that song's writers, Nicholas Brodsky and Sammy Cahn, to create the title song. They also gave Lanza ample opportunity to perform items from the operatic repertoire, including "Questa o Quella" from Rigoletto, "O Paradiso" from L'Africaine and the sextette from Lucia di Lammermoor.
Lanza was having none of it, however. He hated the script and turned on Pasternak, who had previously been one of his best friends at the studio. "If it weren't for people like me," he protested, "he'd be back washing dishes. I make the pictures -- I sing -- and that bastard thinks it's him." Finally, studio head Dore Schary informed Lanza he could make the film or go on suspension. The star would later claim that as compensation, he made the studio add "The Lord's Prayer" to the film, to give it some dignity.
Dignity was rarely a hallmark of Lanza's on-screen characters. Most of his films were built around the contrast between his angelic singing voice and his characters' uncouth behavior, usually depicted as natural and even sexy. In that sense, the roles were somewhat autobiographical. Though Lanza's singing had made him a star, his off-screen shenanigans made him the bane of MGM. His behavior had been deteriorating even before he made his biggest hit, The Great Caruso. His eating and drinking were out of control as he binged and then dieted repeatedly. During filming, he sometimes showed up drunk, and his costumes had to be altered weekly to accommodate the changes in his size.
His worst behavior, however, was aimed at Morrow. Before filming began, they were called in to record the songs. During the session, he not only chided her for not being sexy enough, but made lewd comments about what she had to do physically to compensate. By the time Morrow got to Schary's studio, in tears, he had heard the story already from musical director Johnny Green and producer Pasternak. He convinced her he would handle the matter and had a strong talk with Lanza. But the next day he was back to the same behavior. Finally, Schary had to hire a stunt man to wear a Marine's uniform and inform Lanza he was Morrow's brother. He then warned him that if there were any more ungentlemanly behavior, "I'll come, and you'll sing soprano for the rest of your life." There were no more problems, and when the film finished Morrow asked Schary to thank her "brother" for her. Because You're Mine would be her only film. She returned to Broadway to star in Kismet, then retired to marry.
When the film came out, it received respectful reviews, though most critics were happier with the music than with the script or Lanza's acting. In the New York Times, Bosley Crowther opined that "Mr. Lanza delivering a song is a great deal more entertaining than Mr. Lanza delivering a gag, especially the sort here written for him..." The best notices went to Whitmore as Lanza's sergeant and biggest fan (he even performed some opera of his own, from Il Trovatore). The film turned a profit, but didn't crack the year's top 20. In fact, it was the lowest grossing of Lanza's MGM films. It would also be his last there. Even though the studio put The Student Prince (1954) into production as his next film, he walked out in a temper tantrum after recording the score. MGM would make the film with Edmund Purdom mouthing Lanza's vocals.
Producer: Joe Pasternak
Director: Alexander Hall
Screenplay: Karl Tunberg, Leonard Spigelgass
Based on the story by Ruth Brooks Flippen, Sy Gomberg
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Art Direction: William Ferrari, Cedric Gibbons
Score: Johnny Green
Principal Cast: Mario Lanza (Renaldo Rossano), Doretta Morrow (Bridget Batterson), James Whitmore (Sgt. Batterson), Dean Miller (Ben Jones), Paula Corday (Francesca Landers), Jeff Donnell (Patty Ware), Spring Byington (Mrs. Montville), Don Porter (Capt. Loring), Eduard Franz (Albert Parkson Foster), Bobby Van (Artie Pilcer), Celia Lovsky (Mrs. Rossano), Dabbs Greer (Sergeant), Thurl Ravenscroft (Singer in Radio Commercial), Dick Wessel (Sgt. Grogan).
C-103m. Closed Captioning.
by Frank Miller
The MGM Stock Company by James Robert Parish
Heyday: An Autobiography by Dore Schary
Because You're Mine
Because You're Mine
By Violet LeVoit
Because You're Mine
The film's working title was The Big Cast. The opening and ending cast credits differ slightly in order. Jonathan Cott provided a brief voice-over narration at the beginning of the film. Hollywood Reporter production charts and news items include William Campbell in the cast, but he was not in the released film. Another news item included Fortune Gordien in the cast, but his appearance has not been confirmed. A studio press release stated that star Mario Lanza's parents, Tony and Mary Lanza, were to be extras in a scene in which their son was to sing "The Loveliest Night of the Year." That song was featured in The Great Caruso (1951, see below), not in Because You're Mine, but modern sources note that Lanza's parents were extras in each one of his films. A Hollywood Reporter news item on June 29, 1951 noted that actress Teresa Celli was to be in the film but had requested a release due to pregnancy.
According to news items, portions of the film were shot on location at Ford Ord, CA. Additional exteriors were filmed, with the cooperation of the Department of Defense, at Camp Atterbury, IN, according to a studio press release. Actress Doretta Morrow made her motion picture debut in Because You're Mine. According to a studio press release, she was cast by producer Joseph Pasternak, after he saw her in the Broadway production of The King and I. Actor-dancer Bobby Van also made his motion picture debuts in the film.
Because You're Mine was selected for a Royal Command Performance and had its London premiere at the Empire Theatre on October 27, 1952. It was only the second M-G-M picture to be so honored. The film's title song was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song, but lost to the theme from High Noon (see below).
Although the Time review noted that Lanza had slimmed down to 156 pounds since The Great Caruso, his weight fluctuated visibly in the released version of Because You're Mine. The weight change is most visible in the base chapel sequence, in which his physical appearance walking into the chapel is quite different from his appearance when he sings "The Lord's Prayer" inside. A biography of Lanza indicated that the film's retakes, which began in May 1952, were partially necessary to make Lanza's weight fluctuation during filming seem less obvious.
Although Lanza provided the singing voice for the main character in The Student Prince (1954, ), Because You're Mine was his last onscreen appearance while under contract to M-G-M. His next film appearance was in Serenade, made for Warner Bros. in 1956. Lanza made two additional M-G-M releases, The Seven Hills of Rome, in 1958 and his last film, For the First Time, in 1959 (see entries below).