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That Brennan Girl (December 23, 1946)

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That Brennan Girl

Released on December 23, 1946: Ziggy Brennan learns from her mother how to live life to the fullest without ever having a job.

Directed by Alfred Santell

The Actors: Mona Freeman (Ziggy Brennan), James Dunn (Denny Reagan), William Marshall (CPO Martin J. 'Mart' Neilson), June Duprez (Natalie Brennan), Frank Jenks (Joe the cabbie), Dorothy Vaughan (Mom Reagan), Charles Arnt (Fred, Natalie's 2nd husband), Rosalind Ivan (Mrs. Merryman, nosy landlady), Fay Helm (Helen, Ziggy's neighbor), Bill Kennedy (Arthur, Helen's husband), Connie Leon (Miss Jane, Merryman resident), Edythe Elliott (Miss Unity, Jane's sister), Sarah Padden (Mrs. Graves, nice landlady), Jean Stevens (Dottie, Natalie's friend), Lucien Littlefield (the florist), Marion Martin (Marion, Natalie's girlfriend), Bebe Allen (teenager), Barbara Bettinger (school girl), Joan Blair (Natalie's friend), Stanley Blystone (policeman), Walden Boyle (assistant D.A.), Helen Brown (Olivette's mother), Tom Burton (escort), Spencer Chan (Chinese head waiter), Chester Clute (man in nightclub with quarter), Dorothy Crider (young girl), Harry Depp (photographer), Tom Dillon (Father Malloy), Lester Dorr (apartment house clerk), Ben Erway (townsman), Charles Flynn (detective), Cay Forester (school girl), Joy Gwynell (crying girl), Eddie Hart (helper), Paul Harvey (Judge), Louis Jean Heydt (Hefflin, Denny's lawyer), Earle Hodgins (street car conductor), Daral Hudson (escort), Duke Johnson (Chinese juggler), Harry C. Johnson (Chinese juggler), James Kirkwood (John Van Derwin), Peter Leeds (Bergie), Linda Leighton (saleswoman), Willene Luckett (little button nose), Mary Maynard (young girl), Dorothy Miller (teenager), Shirley Mills (Olivette, babysitter), Frances Morris (assistant Matron), Mary Newton (probation officer), Eva Novak (old woman), Steve Pendleton (Ed), Charles Quigley (detective), Torchy Rand (girl), Keith Richards (escort), Ruth Robinson (woman deputy), Tommy Ryan (Olivette's boyfriend), Ralph Sanford (Fatso, Reagan's boss), Fred Santley (florist), Arthur Space (Mr. Krassman), Linda Stirling (not a cameo appearance), Charles Sullivan (upholsterer boss), Max Wagner (moving man), Josephine Whittell (Mrs. Van Derwin), Isabel Withers (Miss Pendergast), Barbara Jean Wong (nightclub singer), Gordon Wynn (Ben), Murray Yeats (minister), Guy Zanette (escort).


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That Brennan Girl premiered for Christmas in 1946, but the story is all about Mother's Day of 1946, and the ten years between then and Mother's day 1936. The movie opens with a young girl walking down the street and looking in a florist window on Sunday May 12, 1946 - Mother's Day in the U.S. We flash back to Mother's Day ten years earlier and live those ten years through the eyes of Ziggy Brennan. Mother's Day is the one day every year that we honor our Mothers. It is almost impossible to get a seat in a restaurant without a long delay, in fact, in the U.S. that day is always the busiest day of the year for most restaurants. When I was a lad I remember that dad was always my hero, my role model, and mom was the person that scolded, wiped my nose when it dripped, put her tongue to her handkerchief before trying to clean a spot of dirt from my wriggling face as I tried to avoid it, and otherwise watched over me most of the day. All of my sisters convinced me that I was 'daddy's favorite,' I think mostly because after five sisters, he was happy to have a boy. He seldom scolded me for anything, that was mom's job. My sisters convinced me that I had more freedoms and had more good opportunities at an earlier age than they did. Boy was I lucky. I had dad's protection and blessing more than they did. And for many years I bought into this facade. I remember one of the big things that I copied dad on was 'tears' - the world could be ending, but dad kept a stiff upper lip and always seemed to be in command. Never a weak moment. Mom, on the other hand, would tear up at almost anything that would touch her emotionally. And I was like dad - no crying for this boy. I can remember often saying with a tinge of slight disgust as a youngster, "Aww, mom, are you crying again?" I will never forget standing by her hospital bed one evening as we were visiting her just before her death. She described to all of us how the doctors had done a biopsy with a local anesthetic that day, and she looked right at me with a smile and added, "And I didn't even cry, Jimmy." As the years have passed, I look back with very different eyes. I was tied to mom so tightly when I was a child that I actually became much more like her than dad. If I loved dad more than I loved her as a child, I was merely mirroring and copying her love for him. I can now see, with adult eyes, that it was mom that stamped her image onto my heart, not dad. Hell's Bells, today I can get misty-eyed at a good weather report . . . and I am past being concerned with it. I am what I am, and I wouldn't want to be one bit different. Thanks Mom.

This movie is all about motherhood. We have Ziggy Brennan and her mom. Natalie Brennan is a good-times girl that flirts and cons men into providing her with all of the things that she needs, and she teaches Ziggy from a young age to follow in her footsteps. Ziggy gets tied up with Denny Reagan, an Irish fellow with a good old Irish mom. Denny is into any racket or con game that provides a good profit, and he gets Ziggy to come into the business and teaches her all she needs to know about cheating people out of their money and belongings. One day in our flash back to pre-1946, Ziggy meets a farm boy that is in the navy, and she marries him before he goes off to WWII. It is his description of his mother that makes Ziggy see for the first time that all mothers are not like hers. Of course, we later learn that Ziggy is pregnant, and her Navy husband gets killed in the war, leaving Ziggy alone with her baby. The roller coaster of events is more down than up for Ziggy through most of the movie, but in the end Denny's old Irish Mother provides the spark that sends us to the inevitable happy ending.

Pop a really big bowl of white kernel popcorn and put plenty of warm melted butter on it, . . . oh . . . and don't forget to place a big box of Kleenex next you you as you watch this Mother's Day drama.