Music professor Adam Lemp (Claude Rains) has four lovely, musically inclined daughters. They all live happily at home and form a band. There is Thea (Lola Lane) at the piano, Emma (Gale Page) at the harp, Ann (Priscilla Lane) playing the violin and Kay (Rosemary Lane) sings. As suitors start showing up and marrying the daughters, the house becomes quieter and drama starts to take center stage.
There is some good fun in the beginning between all the sisters. They all get along well and do the typical sisterly things, sharing clothes, brushing each other’s hair and dreaming of boys. As Thea starts to get serious with her boyfriend, Ben (Frank McHugh), the youngest sister, Ann, questions the cost of their growing up and getting married. She is afraid of the sisters separating and finding a man to replace them. She even daydreams with Emma about the two of them becoming old maids together.
Each sister starts pairing off with a young man, except for Kay who wants to pursue a singing career. But soon, Ann finds herself between two musically inclined men. There is free spirited Felix (Jeffrey Lynn) who enjoys swinging on the Lemp’s front gate and annoying Mr. Lemp with his new aged jazz music. Then there is Felix’s morose friend, Mickey (John Garfield), who through his tough life has formed an idea that the fates are against him. Ann becomes close friends with both men, loving Felix’s happy-go-lucky attitude and feeling sorry for Mickey’s self indulged pity-party. Once Mickey starts thinking that he and Ann have a chance together, she becomes engaged to Felix. That just brings Mickey lower than ever. When Ann tries to console Mickey, he says that he always thought Felix and Emma were in love, which gives Ann reason to marry Mickey. She thinks she’s allowing Emma and Felix their happiness, but she just leaves the family shocked and heartbroken.
As you can imagine, visiting for the holidays just months after that fiasco can be a bit awkward. Nonetheless, the sisters are glad to be together again and Mr. Lemp is happy to have a full house. It seems to be a happy occasion, with family letting the past stay in the past, but Mickey is noticing some looks between Felix and Ann. By the end of the night, there will be tragedy.
This could be a fun family flick, especially if you’ve got a pack of girls. Then again, there is a bit of tragedy that would just make little girls cry. And I know how kids can get, they start assigning each other to the different characters. The independent one gets to be Kay, but who gets stuck being lonely Emma or last-minute-groom-changing Ann? Be careful or there could be some hair pulling.
“I was under the impression that only trombone players drank.”
Interesting assessment of the movie. The girls who watch can decide which character they would be while the guys who watch try to decide which daughter they would like to date. 🙂
I loved the movie but I love old movies because they’re clean and decent while today’s movies are all sex, nasty language and violence. But John Garfield wasn’t acting that’s just the way he really was. He died at the age of 39.
I liked it well enough mostly for Priscilla Lane and somehow if the others in the cast but WOW! They would nominate anything for Best Picture in 1938.
I’m having trouble finding Test Pilot (which looks great!) and The Citadel (which doesn’t). I’m sure they’ll turn up eventually.