Make A Wish (August 27, 1937)
Released on August 27, 1937: Basil Rathbone is composer Johnny Selden in this delightful musical about child musicians at a summer camp.
Directed by Kurt Neumann
Written by Gertrude Berg, Al Boasberg, William Hurlbut, Bernard Schubert and Earle Snell.
The Actors: Bobby Breen (Chip Winters), Basil Rathbone (Johnny Selden), Marion Claire (Irene Winters), Henry Armetta (Moreta), Leon Errol (Brennan), Donald Meek (Joseph, the butler), Billy Lee (Pee Wee), Ralph Forbes (Walter Mays), Leonid Kinskey (Moe), Herbert Rawlinson (Doctor Stevens), Spencer Charters (station agent), Johnny Arthur (Antoine), Lew Kelly (the mailman), Charles Richman (Wagner), Fred Scott (minstrel), Lillian Harmer (Clara), Barbara Barondess (the secretary), Dorothy Appleby (telephone girl), Richard Tucker (Grant), Phillip McMahon (Chunky), Billy Lechner (judge), Jackie Egger (Bud), Tommy Bupp (boy when puppies are found), Patsy Currier (girl), Herbert Holcombe (unknown), Lon McCallister (unknown), Carlyle Moore Jr. (unknown), Tommy Ryan (unknown), Jay Silverheels (unknown), Jack White (unknown).
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Bobby Breen was ten years old when he made this movie, the third in a string of hits. The young Canadian lad first sang in a Toronto nightclub at the age of four, and his carreer skyrocketed until his voice changed. When he lost his high soprano voice he also lost his career, and never recovered.
Basil Rathbone, better known for his horror picture thrillers, is a happy young playwright who has lost his mojo. He has committed to write a new play, but cannot find any inspiration for it, and his producer is getting upset. He is staying at a wilderness cabin on the edge of Birch Lake, far away from New York City. Across the lake is a boys summer camp, and young Chip Winters is one of the boys at the camp. His mother was a famous singer on Broadway, but after his dad died she lost her passion for the theater, and is now engaged to a businessman who doesn't like music, and insists that she leave the theater behind for good. Chip and Johnny, the playwright, meet and Johnny reads one of the letters that Chip's mom has written to him, and gets inspired to start writing his new play. As the summer progresses, Johnny is reading Chip's mom's letters and is inspired to write the best play of his life. The first two acts are written, and only the third act remains. All is looking good for Johnny, and Chip is a happy camper. But as Johnny tells Chip one day, no love story is complete without a serious crises. And here it comes for our movie.
It is visiting time at the camp, and Chip's mom is coming to visit, and she is bringing the fellow that she wants to marry, who hates music, and doesn't care much for little kids either. But Johnny and Chip's mom meet, and Johnny is inspired anew, and falls despirately for Marion. He insists to his producer that Marion be selected to sing the main part of his new play, and his producer agrees. But Marion's fiance will have none of it. He convinces Marion to leave the camp the next morning and forget about all this music nonsense. But not only that, he insists that they take young Chip home with them, so that they are all away from the camp, and away from playwright Johnny. Chip is broken hearted. You see, the next day the campers were planning to take a horse ride across the border to a small lake in Canada for some fishing, and Chip is forced to leave the camp instead. And Johnny is positively distraught, and decides to disappear for a while in his sorrow. He gives his completed play to his butler Joseph, who is to take it to his New York producer. But Joseph has a bit of 'wanna be' song writer in him, so he decides to change some of the songs with the help of a couple of his buddies. Unfortunately, because of their carelessness, the third act is lost, and they try to replace it by writing a new third act. It is so horrible that the play is cancelled, and Johnny is still among the missing, so he cannot help with the real third act.
It looks bad for all involved, unless young Chip can get things set right. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn, gather the family around, and enjoy a wonderful story that, despite the crisis that evolves, still produces the most smiles and good feelings per minute of story that you have ever experienced.