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By the Light of the Silvery Moon (1953, Doris Day, Gordon MacRae)



People claiming to have known Doris Day before she became a virgin won’t recognise her in this harmonious, highly entertaining sequel to 1951’s On Moonlight Bay. Day plays the squeaky-clean Marjorie Winfield, engaged to Bill Sherman (Gordon MacRae), one of the conquering heroes recently returned from World War I.

Marjorie lives with her parents (Leon Ames and Rosemary DeCamp) and brother Wesley (Billy Gray) in a small, idyllic town in Indiana, but the tranquil family life is threatened when her father is suspected of being interested in a French actress (Maria Palmer) at his local theatre. And on the eve of his 20th wedding anniversary as well! Marjorie’s attempts to protect her father from the wiles of the conniving actress, Miss LaRue, lead to confusion and misunderstandings, and it’s only at an ice-skating party for her parents’ anniversary that Bill finally learns what’s been going on.

Day and director David Butler worked together on six films, even managing to squeeze another musical into their schedules in 1953 (Calamity Jane) while basking in the success of By the Light of the Silvery Moon. Inspired by Booth Tarkington’s Penrod stories, it’s an amiable and incredibly wholesome movie, illuminated by Day’s fine voice and great songs such as If You Were the Only Girl in the World, Ain’t We Got Fun, Your Eyes Have Told Me So, Be My Little Bumble Bee (originally a hit in 1912) and the title song itself, with the camper than Christmas Day in her element.

production details
US | 101 minutes | 1953
Director: David Butler
Script: Robert O’Brien, Irving Elinson,

Doris Day as Marjorie Winfield
Gordon MacRae as Bill Sherman
Leon Ames as George Winfield
Mary Wickes as Stella
Rosemary DeCamp as Alice Winfield
Billy Gray as Wesley Winfield
Russell Arms as Chester Finley
Maria Palmer as Renee LaRue
Howard Wendell as John H. Harris
Walter ‘PeeWee’ Flannery as Ronald ‘PeeWee’ Harris (as Walter Flannery)
Carol Forman as Dangerous Dora