More Moon lit fun for Day and MacRae
Following the success of "On Moonlight Bay" a sequel was made which saw Doris Day and Gordon MacRae reunite with many of the original cast for "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" another fun musical surrounding the romance between Bill and Marjie. Now being a sequel it has to be said that many of the elements and story from "On Moonlight Bay" are pretty much reworked into "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" and for some it's a bit too much of a rehash, but I actually prefer "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" with its more bouncy musical side.
With Bill (Gordon MacRae - Tea for Two) having been off at war, Marjie (Doris Day - April in Paris) can't wait for his return so that they can get married. But Bill doesn't want to rush things as he wants to do the right thing get a job and save some money so he can provide for Marjie before tying the knot. But in the midst of the pre-marital tension there is confusion over what looks like a love letter which Marjie and her young brother Wesley (Billy Gray - The Day the Earth Stood Still) discover in their father's suit. They believe their father has been having an affair with an actress, whilst Bill having also seen the letter thinks Marjie has been carrying on with Chester Finley (Russell Arms) a piano teacher who has been wooing her whilst he was away.
As in "On Moonlight Bay" the main part of "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" revolves around the romance between Marjie and Bill, who having returned from war doesn't want to rush into marriage but get a job, save for a nest egg and then get married. So we get the on off romantic trysts as first she is annoyed, then she isn't then he's ready for marriage and she isn't. It's all very obvious but works well with the chemistry between Doris Day and Gordon MacRae providing for a pleasant enough distraction when it all gets a little to obvious. It has to be said though that in rehashing much of the first movie for some strange reason they reverted Marjie back to being a tomboy again, having already become a lady, a feisty one at that.
And again like with "On Moonlight Bay" there are plenty of other little storylines which fill in the gaps when the romance takes a back seat. We get various stories about young Wesley, his vivid imagination, the pet turkey as well as others such as the glamorous actress who roles into town all tied pretty much together by a classic confusion set up over a letter which various people read and take the wrong way. All these side stories work nicely to fill in those inevitable gaps when the main romantic storyline isn't strong enough to sustain the whole movie.
What I like most about "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" is that for me there is much more emphasis on the musical side of the movie with many more song and dance moments which are shared between various characters. But the rendition of the title track sung by Day and MacRae is wonderful, sweet, loving but also fun.
Performance wise well for some there is far too much playing to the camera and mugging going on from Doris Day and to be frank all the cast but there is something quite nice about it, confident, fun yet not overly corny. Otherwise it seems as if there hadn't been two years between the movies, each and every member of the cast bring their characters back with full effect with the chemistry between Doris Day and Gordon MacRae being as enjoyable as ever. Plus of course Mary Wickes returns and is a scene stealer once again as the delightfully quirky Stella the housekeeper. Although even I will say the opening busy body like narration from Wickes at the start or "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" is a little out of place.
What this all boils down to is that "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" is as charming and entertaining as "On Moonlight Bay". Personally I prefer this sequel even though it does rehash much of the first movie into a sort of new storyline. But it is the more prominent song and dance moments which really lift this one up to being even more memorable, especially with the funny sub stories surrounding thanks giving turkeys and romantic letters.