My Gal Sal (1942)

101-103 mins | Musical | 8 May 1942

Full page view
HISTORY

The film's opening title cards read: "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Rita Hayworth, Victor Mature, John Sutton, Carole Landis in Theodore Dreiser's My Gal Sal ." The film is based loosely on the life of Paul Dresser, the older brother of writer Theodore Dreiser. Dresser, who was born Paul Dreiser in Terre Haute, Indiana on 2 Apr 1857, wrote more than 400 songs in his lifetime and was a popular performer in musical comedies. He died on 30 Jan 1906 from heart disease. Pat Howley and Fred Haviland were Dresser's partners in a music publishing company.
       According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased from Dreiser the rights to the story of Dresser's life and sixty of his songs for $35,000. The legal files also note that the studio purchased from Dreiser and his wife, Helen Richardson, an "original, unpublished, uncopyrighted" story about Dresser, which was used as the basis of the final screenplay. Although a 5 Mar 1941 HR news item stated that Dreiser had published a biography of his brother entitled My Gal Sal , Dreiser did not write such a book. The legal records indicate that Eugene Thackrey worked on an early draft of the screenplay, and Mar 1941 HR news items noted that Sam Hellman had been assigned to work on their screenplay. The extent of their contributions to the completed film has not been determined.
       A 5 Mar 1941 DV news item indicates that Columbia and RKO were initially interested in the project, but "sales were stymied in both ... More Less

The film's opening title cards read: "Twentieth Century-Fox presents Rita Hayworth, Victor Mature, John Sutton, Carole Landis in Theodore Dreiser's My Gal Sal ." The film is based loosely on the life of Paul Dresser, the older brother of writer Theodore Dreiser. Dresser, who was born Paul Dreiser in Terre Haute, Indiana on 2 Apr 1857, wrote more than 400 songs in his lifetime and was a popular performer in musical comedies. He died on 30 Jan 1906 from heart disease. Pat Howley and Fred Haviland were Dresser's partners in a music publishing company.
       According to the Twentieth Century-Fox Records of the Legal Department, located at the UCLA Arts--Special Collections Library, the studio purchased from Dreiser the rights to the story of Dresser's life and sixty of his songs for $35,000. The legal files also note that the studio purchased from Dreiser and his wife, Helen Richardson, an "original, unpublished, uncopyrighted" story about Dresser, which was used as the basis of the final screenplay. Although a 5 Mar 1941 HR news item stated that Dreiser had published a biography of his brother entitled My Gal Sal , Dreiser did not write such a book. The legal records indicate that Eugene Thackrey worked on an early draft of the screenplay, and Mar 1941 HR news items noted that Sam Hellman had been assigned to work on their screenplay. The extent of their contributions to the completed film has not been determined.
       A 5 Mar 1941 DV news item indicates that Columbia and RKO were initially interested in the project, but "sales were stymied in both cases by Dreiser's asking price." According to HR news items, Twentieth Century-Fox purchased the story as a vehicle for Alice Faye, and Fritz Lang was originally assigned to direct the picture, with first Fred Kohlmar and then Robert T. Kane assigned to produce. Studio press releases noted that Faye was replaced by Rita Hayworth, who was borrowed from Columbia for the production, when Faye temporarily retired from the screen to have a baby. Lang was taken off the project in order to direct Moontide . ( Moontide was ultimately directed by Archie Mayo, however.) Co-stars for Faye, announced in HR news items, included George Montgomery and Don Ameche. A 15 Dec 1941 HR news item stated that Ameche was replaced by Victor Mature because "the studio decided it might not be good box-office to have Ameche play a composer again after having played Stephen Foster in Swanee River a few years ago." According to studio records, Stuart Erwin was originally assigned the role of "Pat Howley," and Jonathan Hale was signed to play "Mr. Dreiser."
       According to information in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the film's 22 Dec 1941 screenplay was rejected by the PCA because "the lead, Paul, has indulged in various sex affairs without the proper compensating moral values." The PCA warned the studio that it was "essential that the present characterization of Paul be changed from that of a man who frequently indulges in sex affairs." A later version of the screenplay was approved by the PCA. According to the legal records, the studio prepared a one-reel short entitled Movie Going Millions to advertise My Gal Sal and three other Twentieth Century-Fox productions: This Above All , Moontide and Ten Gentlemen from West Point . My Gal Sal won an Academy Award for Achievement in Art Direction. For his work on the film, Alfred Newman received an Academy Award nomination for Achievement in Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture), but lost to Max Steiner and Heinz Roemheld ( Yankee Doodle Dandy ). On 18 Jan 1943, Mary Martin and Dick Powell starred in a Lux Radio Theatre version of My Gal Sal . More Less

BIBLIOGRAPHIC SOURCES
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
18 Apr 1942.
---
Daily Variety
5 Mar 1941.
---
Film Daily
27 Apr 42
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Mar 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Mar 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Mar 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Mar 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
5 Sep 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Sep 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 41
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Oct 41
p. 2, 4
Hollywood Reporter
15 Dec 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Dec 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
26 Dec 41
p. 8., 15336
Hollywood Reporter
6 Feb 42
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Feb 42
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Feb 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
27 Feb 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Apr 42
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Apr 42
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
4 May 42
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
28 May 42
p. 1.
Life
18 May 42
pp. 45-48.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
18 Apr 42
p. 609.
New York Times
1 May 42
p. 23.
PM (Journal)
3 May 42
pp. 22-23.
Variety
22 Apr 42
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Tommy Seidel
Joe Downing
Bill Hazlett
William P. Wilkerson
Milt Kibbee
Mary Stewart
James Nataro
Jack Barnett
Peggy Neary
Belle Richards
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITERS
Orig story material
Cont wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
DANCE
Dances staged by
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod mgr
STAND INS
Singing voice double for Rita Hayworth
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor dir
Assoc
SOURCES
SONGS
"Come Tell Me What's Your Answer, Yes or No," "I'se Your Honey If You Wants Me, Liza Jane," "On the Banks of the Wabash," The Convict and the Bird," "My Gal Sal," and "Mr. Volunteer (You Don't Belong to the Regulars, You're Just a Volunteer)," music and lyrics by Paul Dresser
"Me and My Fella," "On the Gay White Way," "Oh the Pity of It All" and "Here You Are," music and lyrics by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger
"Daisy Bell," music and lyrics by Harry Dacre.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Theodore Dreiser's My Gal Sal
Release Date:
8 May 1942
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 30 April 1942
Production Date:
26 December 1941--27 February 1942
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century--Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
8 May 1942
Copyright Number:
LP11381
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
101-103
Length(in feet):
9,223
Length(in reels):
11
Country:
United States
PCA No:
8086
SYNOPSIS

In the late 1800's, ambitious Paul Dreiser runs away from his Indiana home, leaving behind his mother, father and younger brother Theodore. Paul does not want to study for the ministry, as his father desires, and instead wants to be a musician. His first foray as an entertainer ends disastrously when Corbin, a con man, uses Paul, who has changed his surname to Dresser, as a front while selling fake jewelry. The angry townspeople catch Paul after Corbin disappears, and tar and feather him. Paul is then found and nursed by Mae Collins, a common but good-hearted singer in Colonel Truckee's Kickapoo Indian Remedy Extravaganza. Once Paul recovers from his ordeal, he joins the medicine show and reciprocates Mae's affections. Paul is thrilled by the appreciative crowds and the easy money, which allows him to buy many loud suits. One evening, as Paul is performing, a group of high-class entertainers from New York City, led by singer Sally Elliott and her producer, Fred Haviland, laugh at Paul's cheap clothes and exuberant performance. Sally likes one of Paul's melodies, however, and invites him to see her show. Paul and Mae go to New York, and although Paul laughs at Sally for revenge, he is impressed by the quality of her show. Determined to better himself and never be laughed at again, Paul leaves Mae and the medicine show for New York. Upon his arrival, Paul learns from music publisher Pat Howley that Sally wrote lyrics to accompany his melody and has included the song in her new show. Despite his anger, Paul listens to Pat's advice that an association with Sally ... +


In the late 1800's, ambitious Paul Dreiser runs away from his Indiana home, leaving behind his mother, father and younger brother Theodore. Paul does not want to study for the ministry, as his father desires, and instead wants to be a musician. His first foray as an entertainer ends disastrously when Corbin, a con man, uses Paul, who has changed his surname to Dresser, as a front while selling fake jewelry. The angry townspeople catch Paul after Corbin disappears, and tar and feather him. Paul is then found and nursed by Mae Collins, a common but good-hearted singer in Colonel Truckee's Kickapoo Indian Remedy Extravaganza. Once Paul recovers from his ordeal, he joins the medicine show and reciprocates Mae's affections. Paul is thrilled by the appreciative crowds and the easy money, which allows him to buy many loud suits. One evening, as Paul is performing, a group of high-class entertainers from New York City, led by singer Sally Elliott and her producer, Fred Haviland, laugh at Paul's cheap clothes and exuberant performance. Sally likes one of Paul's melodies, however, and invites him to see her show. Paul and Mae go to New York, and although Paul laughs at Sally for revenge, he is impressed by the quality of her show. Determined to better himself and never be laughed at again, Paul leaves Mae and the medicine show for New York. Upon his arrival, Paul learns from music publisher Pat Howley that Sally wrote lyrics to accompany his melody and has included the song in her new show. Despite his anger, Paul listens to Pat's advice that an association with Sally would be good publicity. Paul soon writes a string of hit songs that Pat publishes and Sally sings in her shows. Fred, who is in love with Sally, is forced to step aside as Paul pursues her. Paul's success goes to his head, however, and he pays little attention to Sally and his songwriting in order to go out with his new group of society friends. Sally is especially concerned about the married Countess Mariana Rossini, and is furious to learn that Paul is to go with her on a cruise. Sally cuts up all of Paul's clothes, and he is arrested when he destroys her wardrobe. The couple reconciles after his release from jail, and Sally accepts Paul's marriage proposal. Later that night, however, Paul is tricked into going to Mariana's house, where she convinces him to stay for a night of innocent, if drunken, revelry. When Sally sees the countess dropping Paul off at his hotel in the morning, she assumes the worst and refuses to see him. She goes on tour with Fred, and as the weeks pass, Paul writes nothing but flops. Finally, music broker Wiley tricks Sally into accepting Paul's new song, "My Gal Sal," by claiming that an unknown Southern composer wrote it. The song is a huge hit, and soon after its debut, Sally and Paul are reunited. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.