Here Comes the Groom (1951): Frank Capra’s Middling Orphanage Tale, Starring Bing Crosby and Jane Wyman

One of Frank Capra’s weakest films, Here Comes the Groom is a sentimental tale revolving around a reporter (Bing Crosby), who had brought to the U.S. many war orphans.

Grade: C+ (** out of *****)

Here Comes the Groom
Here Comes the Groom FilmPoster.jpeg

Theatrical release poster

But the center is an unconvincing romantic triangle between Crosby, courting a reluctant Jan Wyman, who plans to marry her stiff boss (Franchot Tone).

Narrative Structure:

Crosby plays newspaper reporter Pete, who works in a Paris orphanage. His charming way with children and music enables him to find homes for the most troubled kids.

Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey (Alan Reed and Minna Gombell), an American couple, come to the orphanage to adopt Bobby, a boy seen in a newspaper ad. Bobby misbehaves, but when Pete discovers that Mr. Godfrey plays for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, he produces a young blind opera wunderkind, Theresa (Anna Maria Alberghetti).

Pete dreams that the fiancée he left behind in America, Emmadel (Jane Wyman) has visited. She is scolding him for leaving her at the altar and talks about the children they might have had. Filled with regret, Pete arranges to adopt both Bobby and little sister Suzi and bring them to Boston. Problem is: authorities inform him he must marry within five days, or the adoption will be void.

This was the last collaboration of Capra and Riskin, who suffered a severe stroke that left him paralyzed until his death, in 1955.

In his review, the N.Y. Times Bosley Crowther noted: “a fair-sized zephyr or a few harsh words might blow it away, and it barely survives the burlesque antics that occur in it from time to time. But the idea of it is amusing and the writing is clever and glib. Mr. Capra and Mr. Crosby have both worked harder and done worse.”

Oscar Nominations: 2

Song: In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening, music by Hoagy Carmichael, lyrics by Johnny Mercer

Motion Picture Story: Robert Riskin and Liam O’Brien

Oscar Awards: 1

Song

Oscar Context:

The Best Story Oscar went to Paul Dehn and James Bernard for Seven Days to Noon.

Credits:

Produced, directed by Frank Capra
Screenplay by Virginia Van Upp, Liam O’Brien, Myles Connolly, story by Robert Riskin, Liam O’Brien

Music by Joseph J. Lilley (uncredited)
Cinematography George Barnes
Edited by Ellsworth Hoagland

Production and distribution: Paramount Pictures

Release date: September 20, 1951 (USA)

Running time: 113 minutes
Box office $2,550,000 (US rentals)