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The Merry Monahans (1944) DVD-R

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Starring Donald O'Connor, Peggy Ryan, Jack Oakie, Ann Blyth, Rosemary
DeCamp, John Miljan, Gavin Muir, Isabel Jewell
Directed by Charles Lamont

Print: black/white
Runtime: 91 min.
Genre: musical
Print Quality: B

The Merry Monahans is one of the higher-budgeted Universal musicals of
the 1940s, even though the storyline is strictly grade-B material. During
the first two decades of the 20th century the film concerns a family
vaudeville troupe headed by patriarch Pete Monahan (Jack Oakie).
Because of his love affair with the bottle, Pete manages to get himself
and his family blacklisted from every major vaude house in the country.
Though Pete's kids Jimmy (Donald O'Connor) and Patsy (Peggy Ryan) love
their dad, they're forced to break away from the act and go off on their
own to survive. Eventually, the whole gang is reunited in a shamelessly
lachrymose musical finale. Producer-scripters Michael Fessier and Ernest
Pagano, whose other works include such offbeat comedies as San Diego I
Love You, Frontier Gal and That's the Spirit, manage to keep the
proceedings relatively cliché-free, though it's an uphill climb. The film's
best moments include a series of celebrity impressions performed by
Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan, and a handful of songs rendered by
promising newcomer Ann Blyth. Some curious coincidences: The plot of
Merry Monahans bears a startling resemblance to the early career of
comedian Buster Keaton; Keaton was featured in three of Fessier and
Pagano's Universal productions of the 1940s; and Donald O'Connor and
Ann Blyth later starred in Paramount's The Buster Keaton Story.

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