My Gal Sal (1942): Oscar Winning Musical Biopic, Starring Victor Mature and Rita Hayworth

The Oscar-winning musical extravaganza, My Gal Sal, was made by Fox studio during WWII and was quite popular with audiences due to its star power and production values.

Rita Hayworth, Columbia’s biggest star, replaced Fox’s musical star Alice Faye, who was pregnant. In a year or so, Bette Grable would become the studio’s most bankable actress.

In this fictionalized, streamline biopic, set at the turn of the century, Hayworth plays Sally Elliott as a musical star; in real life, Sal was a prostitute.

She teams up with Paul Dresser (Victor Mature), a runaway from Indiana who after a brief stopover in a medicine show arrives in New York. There are obstacles along the way, but all ends well with a grand and glorious finale.

Fox claimed that “My Gal Sal” was based on a “My Brother Paul,” a biography by the composer’s brother, famous novelist Theodore Dreiser, it actually relied on an unpublished chronicle by Dreiser and his wife Helen Richardson.

As director, Irving Cummings is not Vincente Minnelli or Charles Waters and so some of the song and dance numbers are kitschy, and the dialogue banal.

The film was nominated for two Oscars and won one for art and set decoration.
It included such Dresser songs as “On the Banks of the Wabash”, “I’se Your Honey, If You Wants Me, Liza”, “Come Tell Me What’s Your Answer (Yes or No)” and “Mr. Volunteer.

Oscar Nominations: 2

Interior Decoration (Color): Richard Day and Joseph Wright; art direction, Thomas Little and.
Scoring of Musical: Alfred Newman

Oscar Awards: 1
Interior Decoration

Oscar Context:
The winners of the Scoring Oscar were Ray Heindorf and Heinz Roemheld for “Yankee Doodle Dandy.”

Credits
Running time: 103 Minutes.
Directed by Irving Cummings

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