Adding another installment to our classic movies series, “My Gal Sal” is a lavish musical starring Victor Mature and Rita Hayworth. It’s loosely based on the true story of Paul Dresser, a composer who lived in Indiana at the turn of the twentieth century and wrote the Indiana state song, “On the Banks of the Wabash, Far Away.”
As the movie begins, Paul is packing to leave for school. His father wants him to become a minister, but Paul has other ideas. He runs off and tries to make it to New York to start a career as a musician, but falls in with a traveling con artist who markets cold remedies. He thinks he’s got it made when he can afford to purchase suits through mail order, but when he encounters some actors and actresses from a real New York stage company and takes in their show, he realizes he’s only been participating in a cheap imitation of real show business.
Sally Elliot heard a snatch of his composition while seeing the sideshow, and she adds her own lyrics to it and puts it in her show. When Paul catches wind of this, he’s furious, but he and Sally soon team up to write several musical numbers together. Before long, Paul is one of the most famous people in New York City, but the fame goes to his head, which was already quite swollen, and he forgets to be grateful for what he has.
In the end, Sally helps him realize that the things he wants most can only be gained as he shows gratitude for them, and the two of them marry.
The movie is full of big production numbers, fancy costumes, and lovely singing—Rita Hayward did have a very nice voice. I didn’t care for the character of Paul Dresser. He was arrogant and self-centered, but I can’t really blame Victor Mature for that—he could only work with the script he was given, and maybe that was an accurate portrayal of Paul’s attitude toward life. At any rate, I found the movie very enjoyable and laughed out loud when Sally takes revenge on Paul by chopping up his beloved custom-tailored suits. It was the perfect pay-back.
This film was not rated.
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