Rose Marie 1954

When you take one of the most popular shows in the world at the time, give it the most lavish treatment accorded to a big colour musical, film it in Cinemascope with such stars as Howard Keel, Ann Blyth and Fernando Lamas and then ensure that the breath-taking backgrounds are the Canadian Rockies you finish up with ‘Rose Marie’

Ann Blyth is Rose Marie Lemaitre, left all alone in the world after the death of her trapper father.  Miss Blyth apparently had no qualms about playing a French Canadian, as her delightful accent is just right.  She seemed to be ok alone in the world, for when the Mountie first encounters her, she is placidly fishing from a canoe, quite contentedly

The Mountie, Sgt. Malone, is Howard Keel, resplendent in that red coat.

He has the job of taking her out of the wilderness,  and bring her into protective custody. 

She is unwilling, almost frightened to go with him. She runs away, and he tracks her down, finding her cuddled up like a bear cub in sleep, but when he disturbs her, she attacks him with a knife.  At the first opportunity, she bites him.

This was the first musical ever to be filmed in CinemaScope, and it’s amazing how fluid the scenes are and how the shots vary.  In later musicals, including The Student Prince, Kismet, really most of the late 1950s musicals that were filmed in CinemaScope, the shots seem almost static. 

Ann Blyth appears in the above publicity photo with Fernando Lamas.  from Rose Marie (1954),

Ann Blyth was twenty-four when she played the title role in this musical, and it is impossible not to be impressed by her ability to appear so young, so naturally and effortlessly a teenager when in her teen years she often played characters who were older, or least more poised and sophisticated.     

She was married in 1953 to Dr. James McNulty and they remained together until his death in 2007 – they had four children – the first was born just before this film was released

Ann Blyth also had a long and busy stage career playing in many of the big musicals

Rose Marie- ABOVE a spectacular scene

By the time this film was made Howard Keel had changed his name – no longer Harold Keel as he had been in ‘Oklahoma’ in the West End of London at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane in the late 40s

Rose Marie

Rose Marie 1954

MGM’s first CinemaScope musical is visually splendid, with what looks like on-location filming of the Canadian wilderness. The lake and mountain vistas must be even more spectacular on the big CINEMASCOPE screen as  even on a TV screen they’re impressive.

It is a very well made film and the combination of Howard Keel and Ann Blyth was perfect

About the same time, another big musical was done on the enormous studio sets and that was ‘Brigadoon’ – where that village in the Scottish Highlands comes to life for one day in every 100 years

Prior to ‘Rose Marie’, Ann Blyth had come to England to film ‘The House on the Square’ opposite Tyrone Power – the film was made at Denham Film Studios

Here she is in London on Horseguards Parade ABOVE

Ann Blyth travelled to England to star in this film. She flew over on four days’ notice having replaced the original actress for some reason. Her uncle and aunt, with whom she lived after the death of her mother, were Irish immigrants, as her mother was. They came to England to join Ann on her film shoot, and when the job was done, they toured Europe for a few weeks, and visited Ireland and all the relatives there. I understand Ann made an appearance at the Abbey Theatre in Dublin and was well received by the public.

Years later, President Eisenhower invited Ann to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day to sing for the visiting President of Ireland.

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