Cast & Crew
S. Z. Sakall
Billy De Wolfe
On board the ship carrying her from England, where she lives, to New York City, entertainer Melinda Howard performs for an appreciative audience, including Broadway star Tom Farnham. Keeping his profession a secret, Tom makes a pass at the attractive Melinda, who reveals that she is making a surprise visit to her mother, Broadway singer Jessica Howard. In New York, Melinda arrives at the mansion she believes belongs to her mother. Unknown to Melinda, Jessica's alcoholism has reduced her to singing in a Greenwich Village saloon, and the mansion actually belongs to brewer Adolph Hubbell and his wife. The Hubbells' butler, "Lefty" Mack and his fiancée, Gloria Davis, the maid, are a down-on-their luck vaudeville team, who are good friends of Jessica and have been forwarding her letters to Melinda. Lefty pretends that Jessica has rented the house to the Hubbells while she is on tour, and when a disappointed Melinda discloses that she has no money, offers her one of the servants' rooms for the night. After promising Melinda that her mother will soon return home, Lefty informs Jessica of Melinda's arrival and suggests that she come to the house the following night when the Hubbells will be giving a party attended by many Broadway performers. Meanwhile, the kindly Adolph has discovered Melinda's presence, and after Lefty explains the situation, agrees to keep Jessica's secret. At the party, Melinda awaits her mother with great anticipation. To her chagrin, among the guests brought by Broadway producer George Ferndel is Tom, who entertains the crowd with a spectacular song and dance. Ferndel, meanwhile, tries to persuade Adolph to invest in his latest show, something Adolph refuses to do unless he is able to help cast the production. After Ferndel accuses him of being too old-fashioned, Adolph sneaks away from the party, but upon encountering Melinda, agrees to dance a rhumba with her. Tom, who has been entertaining the jealous Mrs. Hubbell, intervenes and leaves Adolph to make his excuses to his wife, while he dances with Melinda. After Jessica fails to appear because she has been hospitalized with delirium tremens, Lefty explains that her show is too popular for her to leave, and Melinda vows to wait for her, even if it takes months. In an attempt to cheer up Melinda, Lefty suggests to Adolph that he take her to dinner and present her to Ferndel as the potential new star of his show. Ferndel is suitably impressed by Adolph's attractive protegée, and the deal is concluded to everyone's satisfaction. Delighted by his new role as a modern man, Adolph decides to buy Melinda a fur jacket. When Tom happens to see him in the fur shop, Adolph begs him to keep it a secret. Later, Melinda and Tom rehearse a number for the new show Lullaby of Broadway , and afterward, kiss lovingly. Gloria is horrified when the fur arrives, as she believes Adolph's intentions are far from fatherly. The innocent Melinda, upset by her insinuations, insists on returning the jacket, and then demonstrates Adolph's kindness by announcing that Lefty and Gloria will both have parts in the new production. Before the jacket is returned, however, Mrs. Hubbell finds it and believes that it is a surprise for her. She wears it that night to a charity ball where Melinda sees her and candidly remarks to Tom that the jacket had originally been meant for her. Tom misinterprets her statements, and the two quarrel bitterly. Although Jessica has been released from the hospital, she fears Melinda's reaction to her present state and refuses to meet her. Then, just before the show opens, Mrs. Hubbell learns that the fur was purchased for Melinda and names her in a divorce suit. Tom offers to "forgive" the shocked Melinda, and she realizes that he, too, thought she was romantically involved with Adolph. Shortly afterward, an aggressive reporter recognizes Jessica's picture and tells Melinda the truth about her mother. Completely shattered, Melinda decides to return to England and begs Lefty to pay for her ticket. Gloria and Lefty then meet Melinda at the ship and escort her to a stateroom where Jessica is waiting. After mother and daughter are tearfully reunited, Lefty informs them that Mrs. Hubbell now knows there was nothing between Melinda and Adolph, and they all leave together for the theater. Opening night is a great success, and Tom and Melinda pursue their romance.
S. Z. Sakall
Billy De Wolfe
Page Cavanaugh Trio
Carlo And Constance Demattiazzi
Gerald O. Smith
Wilfrid M. Cline
B. G. Desylva
James F. Hanley
Little Jack Little
Lyle B. Reifsnider
Sam H. Stept
Lullaby of Broadway
After handing off the spotlight to her (in several ways) supporting song and dance partner, Gene Nelson (whose songs were dubbed by Hal Derwin), she rejoins him for the feel-good finale. Between those bracketing numbers is more of the nostalgia-tinged same, and almost all of it is nice to have around. Although Lullaby of Broadway quickly exchanges the ocean liner for Manhattan, it remains as shipshape as postwar studio musicals get. Great it isn't. Original it doesn't even try to be. No new songs here, but plenty of good old ones ("You're Getting to Be a Habit with Me," "Somebody Loves Me," "Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone," "In a Shanty in Old Shanty Town," "Zing Went the Strings of My Heart," and more) lined out by a screenful of capable pros who know what they're doing.
There's a plot, barely, but its function is chiefly to stay out of the way of the songs as rendered by the fine-tuned constellation of presences in Day's orbit. This was Day on her way to occupying the America's Sweetheart slot in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Day, born Mary Ann Kappelhoff in Cincinnati, had only made her film debut in 1948 with Romance on the High Seas. She became a household name before that as a singer with Les Brown's big band, and it's still a tossup whether her best remembered hit is the WW II ballad, "Sentimental Journey," or "Que Sera, Sera" from Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956). She began as a dancer, but was immobilized for months in a wheelchair following a car crash. Listening to the radio a lot, she began to sing along with the band singers (Ella Fitzgerald was her favorite). One career detour later, she was herself a singer, with a strong, sweet, plangent voice. Listening to it was like watching a pro golfer tee up a ball and smack it cleanly a couple of hundred yards down a fairway.
With her bright eyes, can-do spirit, perky upturned nose and bouffant platinum hair transmitting good vibes, her screen persona, which also left room for lots of virginal purity, was ideally suited to Eisenhower-era America, or at least America as it preferred to see itself. There were no signs of the jitters Day felt at returning to dancing for the camera after not having danced professionally for years. Yet she felt stiff and rusty (according to her autobiography). But Nelson, who co-starred and choreographed both Lullaby of Broadway and Tea for Two (1950), had a secret weapon - his wife, Miriam, who was a dancer, too. Miriam Nelson literally took her by the hand, and saw to it that Day's hard work and hers never was apparent in the finished product, even after Day took her first look at the steep staircase in the finale of Lullaby of Broadway and gulped. She said, not altogether flippantly, that she wanted a ski patrol standing by as she did her turns up and down the staircase in the film she later was to describe as the one with her most difficult dance routines.
Not that Lullaby of Broadway ever makes the mistake of so many grander endeavors and trips over its own feet. It keeps everything light, even with its wheezy, flimsy plot hinging on whether the other characters think she's been sleeping with a married man. It begins with Day's Melinda Howard returning from years abroad in London for a surprise visit to her mother (how did she ever get all those gowns into her two little suitcases - a miracle of packing!). Mom is a faded Broadway legend played with sad eyes and great cheekbones by Gladys George. Day's Melinda is the one in for a surprise, though, or would be if the others fail in their frantic striving to keep from her the news that her mother is broke and a drunk, singing for tips in a Village dive, and ashamed to have her daughter see her in such a reduced state.
Also unknown to Belinda, mom's flossy Beekman Place house was long ago sold to beer baron and sometime Broadway angel S. Z. Sakall. The butler (Billy De Wolfe) and maid (Anne Triola) are showbiz veterans who labor mightily to keep the truth from Belinda, posting her mother's letters from the Beekman Place address. Covering further, they tell Melinda that her mother is on the road, and appropriate one of the rich sweetie pie's spare rooms for Melinda to stay in. With the unwitting, then all too witting, benefactor played with perfect bumbling timing and his usual thick mitteleuropisch accent, the cuddly S.Z. Sakall genially escalates the predictable complications as the only character who's even more of an innocent than Melinda. Nelson, topping his tuxedos with a porkpie hat, provides the romantic misunderstandings on cue. And De Wolfe and Triola, accomplished troupers both, are rewarded with a couple of comic duets: "You're Dependable" and "We'd Like to Go on a Trip."
After Lullaby of Broadway, her eighth film, Day went on to make 62 more, including her Ruth Etting biofilm Love Me or Leave Me (1955), The Man Who Knew Too Much, The Pajama Game (1957), Teacher's Pet (1958), Pillow Talk (1959) and more in a film career that ended with the death of her husband, Martin Melcher, in 1968. Day's own favorite among her films, according to her memoirs, is Calamity Jane (1953). Her cheerfulness, optimism and wholesomeness unjustly caused her to be written about with a certain condescension in the dark, tumultuous late '60s and early '70s. But the woman who gamely reinvented herself as a singer after her dancing career was put on hold has outlasted her critics and been rediscovered by a new generation taken with her professionalism and work ethic. There have been lots of pretty blondes, but few Doris Days. Her young female fans didn't just want to watch her and listen to her. They wanted to be her.
Producer: William Jacobs
Director: David Butler
Screenplay: Earl Baldwin
Cinematography: Wilfred M. Cline
Art Direction: Douglas Bacon
Music: Howard Jackson (uncredited)
Film Editing: Irene Morra
Cast: Doris Day (Melinda Howard), Gene Nelson (Tom Farnham), S.Z. Sakall (Adolph Hubbell), Billy De Wolfe (Lefty Mack), Gladys George (Jessica Howard), Florence Bates (Mrs. Anna Hubbell), Anne Triola (Gloria Davis), Hanley Stafford (George Ferndel - Producer), Page Cavanaugh Trio (Themselves), Carlo De Mattiazzi (Dance Specialty).
by Jay Carr
AFI Catalog of Feature Films
Doris Day: Her Own Story, by A. E. Hotchner, Morrow & Co., 1976
Lullaby of Broadway
A Hollywood Reporter news item reported that pianist Buddy Cole would enact a speaking part in this film, but his appearance in the picture has not been confirmed.