Judy LeRoy (Debbie Reynolds) is a chorus girl with big dreams of stardom, and big dreams of romance. Strolling through Central Park one day on the way to rehearsal, she’s daydreaming and accidentally bumps into Melvin Hoover (Donald O’Connor).
They have a spat, but when Melvin sees Judy’s photo on a poster for the show Quarterback Kelly, he decides to use his Look magazine press credentials to sneak into the show.
Over the next few weeks, Melvin — a photographer’s assistant at the magazine — shoots photos of Judy, and begins to fall in love with her. The trouble is that Judy is already dating someone, Harry Flack (Richard Anderson), a man her family expects her to marry.
Will Judy fall for Melvin, or stick with Harry? And will Quarterback Kelly or those Look magazine photos lead her on the path to fame?
Don Weis directs 1953’s I Love Melvin.
In what has to be one of the cutesiest openings of a classic musical, I Love Melvin starts with Debbie Reynolds writing the film’s title on her mirror in lipstick. The flick stays adorable from there. Judy has dreams of becoming a star, meeting Robert Taylor, and dancing with Fred Astaire. For her role in Quarterback Kelly, she does acrobatic dance moves while dressed like a football.
It’s all that special brand of corny-but-lovable that could only come from a film produced in the 1950s. Opting to focus much more on its songs than its story, I Love Melvin is, for the most part, a delightful ball of fluff, all of its mild conflicts wrapped up in the end with a syrupy-sweet candy bow. A talented supporting cast including Una Merkel and Jim Backus, the latter of whom would later find TV fame as Gilligan’s Island castaway Thurston Howell III, add to the film’s appeal.
The film reunites two-thirds of Singin’ in the Rain’s dream team, with Reynolds and O’Connor starring as love interests. Both stars get to hoof their way through some very fun choreography including those football scenes, and O’Connor’s rollerskating number. There is one number that the modern viewer will find somewhat offensive. Melvin sings of his wish to see the world with Judy while donning costumes from other cultures. The lyrics are cute, the outfits… not so much. But this is a blip in an otherwise enjoyable film.
And “enjoyable” is the best way to sum up this 76-minute romantic adventure of love and stardom. It isn’t among Hollywood’s best musicals, but it’s a perfectly fine way to pass the time, with nice music and likable performers bringing the smiles.