• Mother Wore Tights (Twilight Time) Blu-Ray Review

    Released By: Twilight Time
    Released On: June 18, 2019.
    Director: Walter Lang
    Cast: Betty Grable, Dan Dailey, Mona Freeman, Connie Marshall, Vanessa Brown, Sara Allgood, William Frawley
    Year: 1947
    Purchase From Screen Archives

    Mother Wore Tights - Movie Review:

    Miriam Young may be best known for writing children's books such as Miss Suzy and Jellybeans for Breakfast, but she contributed to the canon of Hollywood Musicals when she penned 1944's, "Mother Wore Tights", an account of her vaudevillian parents' lives on the er, vaudeville circuit. When Myrtle (Betty Grable) gets picked as the leading lady in her high school graduation play (Class of 1900), it sets her on an unlikely course for stardom; one that does not jive with her family's interpretation of what proper young ladies should do.

    But it's across the bay in San Francisco that a trip to the matinee lands her an audition for the chorus line, and Betty's, er, Myrtle's, "Million Dollar Legs" make her hiring an easy decision for the owner of Schneider's Opera House. Instead of working to put herself through college, Myrtle finds herself kicking up her crazy gams with the rest of the stockinged women, those expensive appendages wowing show superstar, Frank Burt (Dan Dailey). But while Frank initially has an eye on getting past the bounds of Myrtle's wardrobe, his course is easily thrown off when Myrtle makes it known that she's not one of those girls; which Frank apologizes for by offering her a spot on the marquee with him as a duo. The two hit the road, spreading their brand of vaudeville comedy from city to city, state to state, eventually falling in the kind of love that yields marriages and babies.

    With a child on the way, Myrtle decides that it's time to do her womanly duty and settle down to be a mother, a decision that doesn't sit well with Burt; but he nonetheless obliges by finding other partners and somehow getting Myrtle pregnant a second time. Eventually, the Christmas season arrives and Frank finds himself out of luck getting a partner, and sends for Myrtle, which she's obliged to do because he's her husband and she damn well better do what he tells her. This unfortunately leaves young Iris and Miriam at home with no parents, a problem solved when Grandmother McKinley sends them unannounced to their parents' hotel room to be entertained by vaudevillian stars like SeƱor Wences and his magical hand people.

    Family vacations ensue, and the family take in such high-brow resorts such as Berkshire Highlands; full of stodgy rich froufrous who don't dare to crack a smile or engage in conversation, even when Frank and family take over the lobby piano to sing Tin Pan Alley tunes like a bunch of assholes. The girls are sent off to Finishing school, where Iris' heavenly voice and showmanship are highly regarded, but Iris is horrified to learn that her mother and father have planned a surprise for the girls in the form of a local show that all of the classmates will be attending; a sure sign of humiliation for the girl with parents who dabble in lower-brow entertainment.

    There's no doubt that Walter Lang knows his way around a musical, and he shops that ability here in spades, making use of sets that are less than epic; and to have this caliber of performers on board doesn't hurt at all. Musical numbers and comedic setups are executed in what we can refer to as the style at the time, and each frame carries that old-timey stage routine trademark to a T. Grable and Dailey are not only fantastic in their musical numbers, they also have an outstanding chemistry together, even if their kids come across like ingrates.

    The biggest flaw in Mother Wore Tights is that it's largely fluffy, with no real depth to it, no challenge to the characters, no arc; how upset are we to be that a rich-ass daughter in a rich-ass private school is embarrassed to tears in front of her classmates that her parents are showfolk? The most thought-provoking moments of the film come when we're faced with the dated motif of "Women belongs in kitchen, or else" moments that pop up throughout, but that's not anything to get uppity about; rather, it's better to take Mother Wore Tights for what it is, a 1940's film that entertains with it's likeable leads and amusing routines.

    Mother Wore Tights - Blu-Ray Review:

    Twilight Time brings Mother Wore Tights to Blu-ray in a 1.33:1 AVC-encoded transfer that looks just fine. Creeping up on three quarters of a century old, the film doesn't look like it was shot yesterday, but features a dirt and debris-free viewing experience that maintains the filmic experience, with decent blacks and solid colours.

    A DTS-HD Master Audio 1.0 track is available that sounds just fine for the material, offering a great deal of dynamic range for a mono track, and it balances, dialogue, showtunes and score adequately.

    English Subtitles for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing are available.

    A vintage radio show, the Lux Radio Theater performance of Mother Wore Tights from February of 1948 is the main extra here (the performance features Betty Grable and Dan Dailey), while usual Twilight Time extras appear in the form of an interactive catalogue and liner notes from Julie Kirgo...though strangely, there's no isolated music track here.

    Mother Wore Tights - The Final Word:

    An inoffensive, fluffy piece, Mother Wore Tights doesn't push any boundaries, but remains a pleasing excursion into the world of musicals, with solid stars and decent numbers. Twilight Time doesn't bring any extras to the table outside of the radio show, but as usual, do a bang-up job with the audio and video.

    Click on the images below for full sized Mother Wore Tights Blu-ray screen caps!