The trials and tribulations of the Winfield family in small town Indiana as Marjorie Winfield's boyfriend, William Sherman, returns from the Army after W.W.I. Bill & Marjorie's on-again, off-again provide the backdrop for other family issues, primarily brought on by little brother Wesley's overactive imagination and tall tales.
Doris Day ... Marjorie Winfield
Gordon MacRae ... Bill Sherman
Billy Gray ... Wesley Winfield
Leon Ames ... Father Winfield
Rosemary DeCamp ... Mother Winfield
Mary Wickes ... Stella
Russell Arms ... Chester Finley
Maria Palmer ... Renee LaRue
Howard Wendell ... John Harris
Geraldine Wall ... Emily Harris
Walter 'PeeWee' Flannery ... PeeWee Harris (as Walter Flannery)
This 1953 movie is a sequel to the hit film ON MOONLIGHT BAY (see below) from 1951, and re-unites most of the cast from that film. Twenty-nine year old Doris Day reprises her role of Marjie Winfield, tomboyish small-town girl avoiding the unwelcome advances of the nerdish Chester Finley (Russell Arms) as she awaits the return of her fiancé, Bill Sherman (Gordon MacRae), from the battlefields of WWI. The film contains all the trappings of the archetypal Hollywood 'family' movie from this era and, although we all know there never really was a world quite like the one we are watching, it always feels like we are returning to a place we know well. There's the huge old house and the loving parents (Leon Ames and Rosemary DeCamp in this instance) who never argue seriously but may, on occasion, fall victim to misunderstandings that make innocent situations briefly seem otherwise. There's also the faithful housemaid (Mary Wickes), plain but lovable and with a slightly dotty sense of humour. And of course there's the mischievous but lovable little brother, Wesley (Billy Gray) who gets into all sorts of scrapes.
It's Gray who provides most of the laughs in this one, and he's pretty good. Unable to bear the thought of eating his pet turkey for thanksgiving, Wesley steals the turkey of his father's boss and hides his own, only for it to come flying into the dining room during the meal. It's quite a funny incident but, worryingly, we never see the bird again. Wesley also likes to play detective, and wrings some honest laughs out of the scene in which he pays a visit on a French actress he believes is having an affair with his father. Doris Day provides the music and the perky energy. She's quite exhausting at times, but looks fairly cute in that your-best-friend's-older-sister way that she played on until she was well into her thirties. MacRae, as her fiancé, has a strong voice and clean-cut looks to match, but his features are a little bland and, outside of a handful of musicals, he never really carved out a career for himself in Hollywood. Today, he's almost forgotten as a 50s movie star. Leon Ames, who plays the kindly father who never quite seems to know quite what is going on in his household, always provided value for money and, while he isn't given too many opportunities to shine, makes the most of the chances he does get.
You don't have to have seen the first film to watch this sequel but, if the first film is as good as or better than this one then they would make a pretty good double bill. After you've watched them you can gather your family around the piano and sing 'By the Light of the Silvery Moon,' and 'If You Were the Only Girl in the World,' like Doris and Gordon…
If I have to make a choice between all the movies Doris Day has made, I cannot make that choice. She is my favorite and that is because of my mother. We used to sing several songs in the kitchen doing the dishes, or making food. Lots of my friends who are the same age as me, don't have that feeling with the movies of Doris Day. But when I see those movies, it is making me relaxed, happy or sad sometimes. Most of all I like the way she is singing the songs with such a emotion, you cannot find in every singer. I wish I could sing that way or dance like in Calamity Jane. Unfortunately they don't make that kind of movies anymore, but we have the most of those movies on DVD bought her in The Netherlands. Great singers, great actors, love it
BY THE LIGHT OF THE SILVERY MOON is a continuation of "On Moonlight Bay", the previous flick featuring DORIS DAY and GORDON MacRAE as sweethearts during the early 1900s who get to croon some pretty wonderful songs of that period. It's strictly family stuff, nostalgic and as prettily pictured as a postcard of an Americana that never really existed except in Hollywood's imagination and Norman Rockwell paintings.
The delightful supporting cast has LEON AMES (who was also Judy Garland's father in MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS), MARY WICKE (as the sharp-tongued housekeeper), ROSEMARY DeCAMP as the patient wife and RUSSELL ARMS as Doris' nerdy other love.
The wholesome story (from a Booth Tarkington tale) has Doris' bratty brother letting his childish imagination running away from him when he suspects his father is having an affair with a French actress.
The skating ring sequence closes the story on a happy note--and after a nice bunch of songs by Day and MacRae (including "Be My Little Baby Bumble-Bee", "If You Were the Only Girl in the World" and "By the Light of the Silvery Moon"), you'll feel yourself back in those innocent times wishing life could imitate the movies.