Irish Eyes Are Smiling (1944)

90 mins | Musical | October 1944

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HISTORY

The working title of the picture was When Irish Eyes Are Smiling . The film is loosely based on the life of composer Ernest R. Ball (1878--1927), who achieved immense popularity with his sentimental ballads. Ball studied at the Cleveland Conservatory before moving to New York City, where he worked in vaudeville and then as a composer at a music publishing company. He achieved great success with his songs and vaudeville performances, and wrote scores for several Broadway musicals. Ball, who was married twice, had three children with his first wife.
       According to HR news items, Vivian Blaine was originally set to star in the film. According to a studio press release, quoted in a HR news item, director Gregory Ratoff was assigned to the picture "because of his knowledge of Irish folklore and his collection of clay pipes." The picture marked the feature-film debuts of Metropolitan opera singers Blanche Thebom and Leonard Warren. Alfred Newman received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) category. On 15 Mar 1948, Lux Radio Theatre presented a radio broadcast of the story starring Dick Haymes and Jeanne ... More Less

The working title of the picture was When Irish Eyes Are Smiling . The film is loosely based on the life of composer Ernest R. Ball (1878--1927), who achieved immense popularity with his sentimental ballads. Ball studied at the Cleveland Conservatory before moving to New York City, where he worked in vaudeville and then as a composer at a music publishing company. He achieved great success with his songs and vaudeville performances, and wrote scores for several Broadway musicals. Ball, who was married twice, had three children with his first wife.
       According to HR news items, Vivian Blaine was originally set to star in the film. According to a studio press release, quoted in a HR news item, director Gregory Ratoff was assigned to the picture "because of his knowledge of Irish folklore and his collection of clay pipes." The picture marked the feature-film debuts of Metropolitan opera singers Blanche Thebom and Leonard Warren. Alfred Newman received an Academy Award nomination in the Music (Scoring of a Musical Picture) category. On 15 Mar 1948, Lux Radio Theatre presented a radio broadcast of the story starring Dick Haymes and Jeanne Crain. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
14 Oct 1944.
---
Daily Variety
4 Oct 44
p. 3.
Film Daily
6 Oct 44
p. 11.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Jan 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Jan 44
p. 1.
Hollywood Reporter
21 Feb 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Mar 44
p. 47.
Hollywood Reporter
24 Apr 44
p. 15.
Hollywood Reporter
19 May 44
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jun 44
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Oct 44
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Nov 44
p. 8.
Los Angeles Times
20 Oct 1944.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
8 Apr 44
p. 1835.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
7 Oct 44
p. 2129.
New York Times
8 Nov 44
p. 27.
Variety
4 Oct 44
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
and The Metropolitan Opera Singers:
Marian Martin
John Duncan
Mary Stewart
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
Dial dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Based on a story by
Orig story idea
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
Assoc
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus dir
Mus consulant
Orch arr
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec photog eff
DANCE
Dances staged by
MAKEUP
Makeup artist
PRODUCTION MISC
Mus research
Prod mgr
COLOR PERSONNEL
Technicolor dir
SOURCES
MUSIC
"The Irish Washerwoman" Irish traditional.
SONGS
"I'll Forget You," music and lyrics by Annelu Burns and Ernest R. Ball
"Dear Little Boy of Mine," "Let the Rest of the World Go By," "A Little Bit of Heaven, Sure They Call It Ireland" and "Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday," music by Ernest R. Ball, lyrics by J. Keirn Brennan
"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," music by Ernest R. Ball, lyrics by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.
+
SONGS
"I'll Forget You," music and lyrics by Annelu Burns and Ernest R. Ball
"Dear Little Boy of Mine," "Let the Rest of the World Go By," "A Little Bit of Heaven, Sure They Call It Ireland" and "Turn Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday," music by Ernest R. Ball, lyrics by J. Keirn Brennan
"When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," music by Ernest R. Ball, lyrics by Chauncey Olcott and George Graff, Jr.
"Mother Machree," music Ernest R. Ball and Chauncey Olcott, lyrics by Rida Johnson Young
"Be My Little Baby Bumble Bee," music by Henry I. Marshall, lyrics by Stanley Murphy
"I Don't Want a Million Dollars" and "Bessie in a Bustle," music by Mack Gordon, lyrics by James. V. Monaco
"Strut Miss Lizzie," music and lyrics by Henry Creamer and J. Turner Layton.
+
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling
Release Date:
October 1944
Premiere Information:
Los Angeles opening: 19 October 1944
Production Date:
21 February--mid April 1944
late May--early June 1944
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
12 October 1944
Copyright Number:
LP12983
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
90
Length(in feet):
8,150
Length(in reels):
10
Country:
United States
PCA No:
10005
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 1911, songwriter Ernest R. Ball is dismissed from his job as an instructor at the Cleveland Conservatory of Music for writing sentimental ballads. Ernest then goes to a burlesque theater in search of Belle La Tour, a singer to whom he has written regarding one of his songs. In Belle's dressing room is Mary "Irish" O'Neill, a diminutive singer and dancer, who is not afraid to let loose with a dangerous left hook when confronted by a fresh man. Irish, who is in the dressing room while recuperating from an encounter with the overly familiar stage electrician, does not reveal her true identity to Ernest and instead encourages him when he sings one of his ballads. Belle arrives and spoils Irish's deception, however, by firing her and ordering Ernest to leave. Outside, Ernest and Irish talk as they stroll and discover that they are both orphans who have dreams of building successful careers in New York City. Having fallen in love with Irish, Ernest begs her to postpone her trip to New York until he has enough money to accompany her, but she insists on leaving the next morning. Determined to raise the cash for the trip, Ernest goes to a vaudeville house to sell one of his songs. Middleweight champion boxer Stanley Ketchel is moved to tears by one of Ernest's touching ballads, but his cantankerous manager, Edgar Brawley, assumes that Ernest stole the song. Ernest angrily leaves, but returns during Stanley's show, when Stanley offers twenty-five dollars per round to any man who can fight him. The sentimental Stanley refrains from pounding Ernest too hard, and the young composer wins ... +


In 1911, songwriter Ernest R. Ball is dismissed from his job as an instructor at the Cleveland Conservatory of Music for writing sentimental ballads. Ernest then goes to a burlesque theater in search of Belle La Tour, a singer to whom he has written regarding one of his songs. In Belle's dressing room is Mary "Irish" O'Neill, a diminutive singer and dancer, who is not afraid to let loose with a dangerous left hook when confronted by a fresh man. Irish, who is in the dressing room while recuperating from an encounter with the overly familiar stage electrician, does not reveal her true identity to Ernest and instead encourages him when he sings one of his ballads. Belle arrives and spoils Irish's deception, however, by firing her and ordering Ernest to leave. Outside, Ernest and Irish talk as they stroll and discover that they are both orphans who have dreams of building successful careers in New York City. Having fallen in love with Irish, Ernest begs her to postpone her trip to New York until he has enough money to accompany her, but she insists on leaving the next morning. Determined to raise the cash for the trip, Ernest goes to a vaudeville house to sell one of his songs. Middleweight champion boxer Stanley Ketchel is moved to tears by one of Ernest's touching ballads, but his cantankerous manager, Edgar Brawley, assumes that Ernest stole the song. Ernest angrily leaves, but returns during Stanley's show, when Stanley offers twenty-five dollars per round to any man who can fight him. The sentimental Stanley refrains from pounding Ernest too hard, and the young composer wins seventy-five dollars, with which he then travels to New York. Despite his best efforts, Ernest cannot find Irish and soon takes a job as a song plugger with Leo Betz's music publishing company. Leo sends Ernest to a fancy nightclub with a tune for vaudeville singer Lucille Lacey, but when Edgar, who is surprised to see the young man, laughs at him, Ernest launches into a well-received rendition of one of his own compositions. Lucille is so impressed with Ernest that she takes him under her wing and introduces his songs in her shows. In less than a year, Ernest becomes well-known and his songs are performed throughout the country. Although Lucille is interested in Ernest romantically, he still thinks only of Irish and is delighted to find her working as a hat check girl at a posh restaurant. Irish is embarrassed by her lowly job, however, and refuses to believe that Ernest still loves her, but he finally persuades her to quit her job and leave with him. While Ernest is waiting for Irish, he overhears Edgar making a bet with Lucille's smooth-talking friend, Al Jackson, who always wins their wagers. Edgar bets $25,000 that he can make a musical comedy star out of the next woman to leave the ladies lounge, and although Al tries to cheat, Ernest arranges for Irish to be the woman Edgar must pick. The confused Irish believes that Ernest and his high society friends are making fun of her and storms out, and Al insists that Edgar stick to his bet. Hoping to get rid of Irish so that she can have Ernest to herself, Lucille arranges for her to be employed in a small theater out of town. Although Ernest and Edgar conduct a frantic search for Irish, Al finds her first and promises her a job at his new theater in Cuba. As Irish prepares to sail to Cuba, Ernest finds her and pleads with her to return to him. Mistakenly believing that Ernest loves Lucille, Irish refuses, and the dispirited Ernest disembarks. After the boat sets sail, however, a drunken Al reveals the true nature of the bet to Irish, and that Ernest really does love her. Irish returns to New York aboard the pilot's boat, but when she goes to Ernest's hotel, she discovers that he has left abruptly. Edgar comforts the heartbroken Irish by putting on a new show with her as the star. He advertises the use of Ernest's new song, "When Irish Eyes Are Smiling," and Ernest, believing that Edgar has stolen his composition, rushes back to New York. Ernest and Irish are reunited backstage, where she tells him that she will give him a black eye unless he kisses her. The show is a success, and although Edgar happily collects his wager from Al, who has returned from Cuba, he is infuriated to learn that Al is the ultimate winner because he is the show's secret backer. +

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

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