Lucille Bremer plays Sally, who is supposed to be many years younger than Robert Walker's character Jerome Kern. The actress is actually more than a year older than he.
Judy Garland sings two numbers in the film: "Look for the Silver Lining" and "Who?". She also sang "Do You Love Me?" but it was cut before release. Her sequences were filmed by her then new husband, Vincente Minnelli.
Judy Garland, who played real-life singer-dancer Marilyn Miller, was pregnant with her first daughter, Liza Minnelli. She was placed behind stacks of dishes while singing "Look For the Silver Lining", but it was not to "hide her belly" as some have thought, because moments before her number, she is shown walking over to the set and even during her song as she is standing behind the dishes, her abdomen is not disguised.
Tony Martin, already identified, via his December 19, 1939 Decca recording, with the incomparable ballad, "All the Things You Are" (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II ), waxed another version for Mercury around the time of the film's Manhattan debut. Mercury paired Tony's remake with his solo of "Make Believe" (lyrics by Hammerstein) on a 78-rpm single. The MGM Records soundtrack album featured, as part of the "Show Boat" medley, Tony singing "Who Cares If My Boat Goes Up Stream?" (lyrics by Hammerstein) and a Martin-Kathryn Grayson duet of "Make Believe." On CD, Tony's one Decca side has a place on "Hear My Song" from the British label Flare in 1999; his two recordings from December 21, 1946 (first issued on a single one full year later) count among "The Best of Tony Martin: The Mercury Years," issued in 1996; and all of his movie vocals are contained on film-score releases from Sony in 1992 and then by The Soundtrack Factory, a Spanish label, in 2000.
Lena Horne was originally filmed singing both "Can't Help Lovin' Dat Man" and "Bill" in the "Show Boat" scene, but the studio eventually deleted "Bill".
Irene Vernon's film debut.
Because of disagreements Robert Walker was having with his MGM bosses, they billed the rest of the cast first, and then "and Robert Walker as Jerome Kern".
Deleted from the film were the following Jerome Kern songs: "D'Ye Love Me?" (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Otto A. Harbach), sung by Judy Garland, footage available on the 2008 DVD from Warner Home Video (although the song's prologue, which shows Judy interacting with mimes John and Renee Arnaut, is missing the soundtrack) -- "Bill" (lyrics by P.G. Wodehouse), the first chorus sung by Lena Horne, audio available on the 1996 Rhino CD, "Lena Horne at M-G-M: Ain't It the Truth" -- "I've Told Every Little Star" (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II), sung by Kathryn Grayson, segueing into "The Song Is You" (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II), sung by Kathryn Grayson and Johnny Johnston, footage of this medley available on the 2008 DVD from Warner Home Video -- "Dearly Beloved" (lyrics by Johnny Mercer), sung partially by Johnn
During the "Who?" segment Judy Garland and the chorus move smoothly down the staircase. They did this by standing on a slide that was hydraulically controlled. It was supposed to ease to a stop at the bottom but, instead, stopped abruptly. There is a quick cut that partly hides this but it can still be seen as everyone suddenly gives a little lurch just before the cut.
In the release print, Frank Sinatra does not begin "Ol' Man River" (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II) with the verse. However, the verse opens both of Mr. Sinatra's commercial recordings -- the first for Columbia, arranged and conducted by Axel Stordahl, waxed on December 3, 1944, and originally released as a 78-rpm single, which featured on the flip side, "Stormy Weather" (music by Harold Arlen, lyrics by Ted Koehler); and Frank's second version for Reprise, arranged and conducted by Nelson Riddle, cut on February 18, 1963, and part of "The Concert Sinatra" LP, which has been reissued on an import CD, unveiled by Universal Distribution on November 10, 2009.
In the release print, two of the Jerome Kern songs were edited to remove their verses: Judy Garland's production number "Who?" (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II and Otto A. Harbach), and Virginia O'Brien's "Life Upon the Wicked Stage" (lyrics by Mr. Hammerstein). Recordings with the verses (but just a partial verse for Miss Garland, and also a less-elaborate last chorus without the film's choir) were made available on the MGM Records soundtrack album. In the CD era, both prerecordings with their verses are presented on a soundtrack disc from the British label Prism.
Not all the singers in the film were featured on the 78-rpm soundtrack album released by MGM Records. Among those missing artists, both Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore were under contract to Columbia Records, which had in the marketplace 78-rpm platters of Frank's "Ol' Man River" (lyrics by Oscar Hammerstein II), a recording (arranged and conducted by Axel Stordahl) cut on December 3, 1944; and Dinah (with Morris Stoloff's Orchestra) singing "They Didn't Believe Me" (lyrics by Herbert Reynolds), from Miss Shore's 78-rpm album, "A Date With Dinah," reviewed in the May 3, 1947 issue of Billboard magazine. Both Columbia sides have been transferred to Sony CDs: Mr. Sinatra's on a 1998 box set called "The Best of The Columbia Years: 1943-1952," and Miss Shore's on her 1991 collection of "16 Most Requested Songs." Represented on a film-score CD released in 2000 by The Soundtrack Factory, a Spanish label, are the two film recordings by Dinah and Frank, with the disc also featuring Dinah's rendition of the Oscar-winning song of 1941, "The Last Time I Saw Paris" (lyrics by
Released on March 1, 1947, the MGM Records soundtrack album made from this film, originally presented on a 78-RPM album set, was the first soundtrack album ever made from a live-action film musical. Previously the only movie musical soundtrack released on records was that of Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. (The authentic soundtrack album of MGM's The Wizard of Oz, with the film cast, was not issued until 1956.)
The script for this film had to be rewritten after Jerome Kern died.
This film made national headlines in 1973 when it was announced that MGM had neglected to renew its copyright, resulting in the film entering public domain. Because of that, inferior VHS copies appeared a few years later when video became popular.
This was the second of six MGM movies released between 1944 and 1953 featuring June Allyson and Van Johnson, although in this film they did not share any scenes or musical numbers.
When Jerome Kern was told that MGM wanted to make a movie of his life he told them that, frankly, his life had been so boring they would have trouble making an interesting movie from it. In order to add some drama, the writers invented the Hesslers and especially the hunt for Sally Hessler.
When MGM originally began planning this film, it asked Jerome Kern what he thought about Robert Walker being cast. He said it sounded all right, but he wanted to hear his wife's opinion. He phoned her from the office and she told him to stay and play himself and send Walker home to her.
Having become popular as a nightclub songstress, Angela Lansbury's singing voice had been bypassed in her two previous MGM films - dubbed by Virginia Reece in The Harvey Girls, a sprightly Technicolor musical with Angela scampering through "Oh You Kid" (music by Harry Warren, lyrics by Johnny Mercer); and dubbed by Doreen Tryden in The Hoodlum Saint, a downbeat drama which featured two vocalized evergreens: "If I Had You" (music and lyrics by Ted Shapiro, Jimmy Campbell and Reginald Connelly) plus 'How Am I to Know?" (music by Jack King, lyrics by Dorothy Parker). At Miss Lansbury's insistence, producer Arthur Freed, who already had overseen The Harvey Girls, allowed her, in this