Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, August 18, 2022


Jun Haver and John Payne
WAKE UP AND DREAM (1946). Director: Lloyd Bacon. 

Jeff Cairn (John Payne) lives with his little sister, Nella (Connie Marshall), on a farm during WW2. Although he could get a deferment, he enlists in the Navy and says good-bye to his sort of sweetheart, waitress Jenny (June Haver). Then a notice comes saying that Jeff is Missing in Action. Nella and Jenny, in convoluted fashion that never quite makes sense, wind up on a drydocked boat built by the old curmudgeon, Henry Pecket (Clem Bevans). With the aid of Howard Williams (John Ireland), Peckett is able to set sail (sans permit or any special plan) and Jenny, Nella and Howard go with him. Nella is hoping they will sail to some beautiful island where she will be reunited with her brother, but instead they wind up literally stuck in the mud. 

Haver with John Ireland 
Say one thing for Wake Up and Dream, one of the oddest musicals I've ever seen, it is unpredictable. Oh it's no great surprise that Jeff turns up alive after missing most of the movie (a pretty much wasted role for Payne),  but other events are not so certain. Payne introduces the song "Give Me the Simple Life" early in the picture, and Haver warbles the pretty "I Wish I Could Tell You" but then in a much later sequence a chorus starts singing "We're Off to See the Wizard" [!] as the group trek into the swamp after a hermit that Nella has discovered. One could argue that the movie offers a message of hope, but when you consider that most men listed as missing in action were actually dead, it's perhaps not in the best of taste. In any case, all of the performances are quite good, including Charlotte Greenwood as a widow who takes in boarders and Irving Bacon as a toll gate attendant. Lee Patrick is in the picture but I must have blinked and completely missed her. Based on a novel by Robert Nathan, this has all the earmarks of a screenplay that was cut and pasted together. Some good dialogue, however. 

Verdict: 20th Century-Fox was no MGM when it came to (semi) musicals. **1/2. 


angelman66 said...

Does sound weird, but what a cast. That would make it worthwhile, along with the dreamy Mr. Payne.
- C

William said...

While not in the same league perhaps, Mr. Ireland was also not bad-looking in his youth.