Day is Bay-eautiful by the Moonlight
Doris Day has made some lovely romantic comedies in her time and "On Moonlight Bay" is as charming as they come with its mix of wholesome comedy, sweet romance as well as some song and dance. By nature it's not heavy going and there is not a second of complexity too it, but "On Moonlight Bay" is simply fun, frivolous and entertaining, what more do you want from a delightfully nostalgic musical.
Having just moved into a new home tomboy Marjorie 'Marjie' Winfield (Doris Day - Lullaby of Broadway) finds herself being romanced by the young man from across the street, William 'Bill' Sherman (Gordon MacRae - Tea for Two), having accidentally nearly shot him with a gun. Quickly learning the art of dancing Marjie sheds hers tomboy ways whilst William is away at college his unconventional thoughts about marriage and money fail to impress George (Leon Ames - Anchors Aweigh) her father's approval who just happens to be the vice president of a local bank.
The storyline to "On Moonlight Bay" basically revolves around the romance between tomboy Marjorie 'Marjie' and neighbour William 'Bill' as they meet, fall in love and basically run the gauntlet of a disapproving father and time apart whilst William is at college. It sort of sways back and fourth between the romance and the sort of fake anti-romance as William has strong views about love, banking and marriage. As such it's fluffy and fun delivering plenty of sweet tender moments mixed in with general humour although to be frank it's not enough to carry the movie on its own.
But in-between all the romance "On Moonlight Bay" has other little stories mostly revolving around Marjorie's little brother Wesley, your typical young mischief making boy who gets into trouble through telling little lies, playing with slingshots and so on. It's a nice way of doing things with the young Billy Gray who plays Wesley doing a nice turn of being both sweet and amusingly mischievous.
There are other elements to "On Moonlight Bay" with Leon Ames putting in a solid turn as the disapproving father who has forgotten what it's like to be young and in love. But these extra elements rarely take your attention from the fun of the main romance.
Of course being a relatively early Doris Day movie there are plenty of musical scenes as well all nicely done with the memorable dancing in the snow scene sticking in your mind long after "On Moonlight Bay" has finished. What is nice is that the singing is shared quite evenly between Doris Day and her co-star Gordon MacRae providing a nice balance and some memorable duets. But also the pairing works well on the screen, being convincing as being young and in love in an idealistic sense of it all.
Whilst Doris Day and Gordon MacRae are the obvious stars and carry "On Moonlight Bay" beautifully, they are helped by a whole range of good supporting performances from the likes of Billy Gray, Leon Ames, Rosemary DeCamp and Ellen Corby. Although the scene stealer for me is the always wonderfully witty and sarcastic Mary Wickes who plays the Winfield's house keeper Stella.
What this all boils down to is that "On Moonlight Bay" is as charming as they come with its fun mix of humour, romance and music featuring many memorable tunes sung delightfully by Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. It's by no means intellectually challenging and in some ways over sweet with its wholesome nostalgia but it's very enjoyable especially with Doris Day showing her playful side as tomboy Marjie. And to be honest it can't have been bad for them to make a sequel "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" a couple of years later.