At this point I’ve seen most of Ms. Days films and can’t help but have a few favorites. Calamity Jane will always have a special place in my heart, Young at Heart tugs at my heartstrings and Pillow Talk makes me laugh like crazy. But today I thought I’d focus on a pair of films that happen to be favored by the actress herself – On Moonlight Bay and its sequel By the Light of Silvery Moon.
On Moonlight Bay from 1951 and By the Light of the Silvery Moon from 1953 tell the story of the Winfield’s – a Midwestern family living in the early 20th century. In On Moonlight Bay George and Alice Winfield (Leon Ames and Rosemary DeCamp) have just moved into a new home with their two children – tomboy Marjorie (Day) and mischief-maker Wesley (Billy Gray) – and their maid Stella (Mary Wickes). Just across the street lives William Sherman (Gordon MacRae) and soon he and Marjorie become an item.
The film is a slice of life tale of the Winfield families adventures in their new town and Marjorie and William’s budding romance. It’s sweetness and light until World War I starts and William joins the army which leads to a bittersweet parting for the young couple fresh in their new romance.
When we are reunited with the Winfield’s in By the Light of the Silvery Moon the war has ended and William’s back home and ready to marry Marjorie. Or is he? The ups and downs of the couple’s romance continue and we see the further adventures of the family, especially rascally Wesley.
Both movies are sweet, heartfelt and quite funny. Day and MacRae have wonderful chemistry and handle the silly and the serious aspects of their relationship with ease. The supporting cast is stellar with Mary Wickes at her snarkiest and Billy Gray perfectly cast as the annoying, smart aleck younger brother. The films hark back to an innocent time that probably never existed but we all wish it did.
And of course there’s the music. With a soundtrack featuring a mixture of period songs and original tracks it highlights both Day and MacRae’s wonderful voices.
On Moonlight Bay and By the Light of the Silvery Moon have been family favorites for years. They’re true gems that spotlight Doris Day’s considerable talent and make me love her just a little more every time I see them.