High, Wide, and Handsome (1937): Mamoulian’s Musical Drama, Starring Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott

Rouben Mamoulian’s tenth feature, High, Wide, and Handsome, was a musical drama, with lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein and score by Jerome Kern.

In 1859, Doc Watterson brings his traveling medicine show to Titusville, Pennsylvania.

Irene Dunne plays Doc Watterson’s daughter, Sally, with Doc is constructed in the mold of Dunne’s character’s father in Show Boat, Cap’n Andy.  Dorothy Lamour sings a torch song, much as Helen Morgan did in Show Boat.

When the show wagon accidentally goes up in flames, Mrs. Courland and her grandson Peter invite the Wattersons to stay with them. Peter and Sally fall in love.

Railroad tycoon Walt Brennan wants to take over the land of oil-drilling farmers to build a railroad.  But the townspeople block his plan, and instead construct their own oil pipeline.

The movie includes the Kern-Hammerstein song “Can I Forget You?” as well as “The Folks Who Live On the Hill.”

As much as possible, Mamoulian tried to integrate the songs into the plot, so that they advance the story rather than be production numers onto themselves.

Irene Dunne as Sally Watterson
Randolph Scott as Peter Cortlandt
Dorothy Lamour as Molly Fuller
Elizabeth Patterson as Grandma Cortlandt
Raymond Walburn as Doc Watterson
Charles Bickford as Red Scanlon
Akim Tamiroff as Joe Varese
Ben Blue as Zeke
William Frawley as Mac
Alan Hale, Sr. as Walt Brennan