My Gal Sal (1942)

A 20th Century-Fox Picture

Executive Producer: Darryl F. Zanuck
Producer: Robert Bassler
Director: Irving Cummings

Screenplay: Seton I. Miller, Darrell Ware, and Karl Tunberg,
from story by Theodore Dreiser

The Stars:
Rita Hayworth as Sally 'Sal' Elliot
Victor Mature as Paul Dresser
John Sutton as Fred Haviland

Songs: by Paul Dresser
"I'se Your Honey if You Wants Me, Liza Jane",
"Come Tell Me What's Your Answer (Yes or No)",
"The Convict and the Bird", "On the Banks of the Wabash", "Mr. Volunteer", "My Gal Sal"
by Leo Robin and Ralph Rainger
"On the Gay White Way", "Midnight at the Masquerade", "Oh, the Pity of it All", "Here
You Are", "Me and My Fella"

Song vocals for Miss Hayworth: Nan Wynn
Dances staged by Hermes Pan and Val Raset
Costumes by Gwen Wakeling

Color, 102 mins. running time

Rita made My Gal Sal at Twentieth Century-Fox in early 1942. Her part was first intended for Alice Faye, then Betty Grable, but both actresses were unavailable. At the time, Rita was quickly becoming one of Hollywood's top musical comedy stars, so this was a lucky bit of casting for Fox. Don Ameche was to be her co-star in this Technicolor romp but ultimately Victor Mature won the role. During filming they had a serious romance and became one of Tinsletown's most publicized couples. The press predicted wedding bells, but the romance ended after Victor joined the Coast Guard and Rita found Orson Welles in late 1942.

The tale begins in Indiana where a young man named Paul Dresser (Victor Mature) decides to leave home. His father wants him to be a minister but he wants to be a songwriter. He leaves in hopes of fulfilling this dream. He gets into trouble and winds up tarred and feathered by an angry mob of townspeople. After this incident, he meets the lovely Mae Collins (Carole Landis). She takes care of him and even gets him a job performing in a cheap show playing in small towns. One day he goes to see a road show of Broadway star Sally Elliot (Rita Hayworth) and realizes his act isn't as great as he thought. He decides to head for New York to achieve his musical aspirations.

In the big city, he obtains a song publisher and meets up with Sally Elliot again. After having had a few unpleasant run-ins, Paul and Sally despise each other. But naturally, the two soon come around. Within a short time, with hit songs like "Oh, the Pity of it All" and "Here You Are", Paul becomes a famous and successful songwriter. But it soon goes to his head and he begins seeing the Countess Rossini (Mona Maris). Returning to his senses, Paul apologizes to Sally with a song and his temporarily pompous attitude is forgiven. They get engaged and everything is roses again -until Countess Rossini enters the scene once more.

Paul's only love interest is Sally and he wants to marry her, but then countess tricks him into going to see her again. After he realizes her scheme, he doesn't make much of an attempt to leave the countess' home, feeling there's no harm in their being friends. The next morning, Sally sees him get dropped off at his apartment building by the countess, and she calls off their engagement. She and her manager, Fred Haviland (John Sutton) (who also loves Sally), immediately go on the road to open a new show. With Sally gone, Paul realizes he can't live without her. After giving her time to cool off, he writes a new song for Sally, "My Gal Sal". The melody melts her heart and brings her back to his arms by final fade out.

My Gal Sal, a biography of turn-of-the-century songwriter Paul Dresser, is one of those lavish Technicolor extravaganzas that Fox was famous for. Rita's old-fashioned hair-do's and gowns by Gwen Wakeling were beautifully designed. With a dozen songs, period costumes and sets, this was a great showcase for her musical abilities. In my opinion the best numbers were "On the Gay White Way", "Come Tell Me" and "Me and My Fella". It's difficult to choose! I think all Rita fans would enjoy this film.

in costume for 'My Gal Sal'
Rita poses in her dressing room in costume for the "Come Tell Me" number.

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