On Moonlight Bay (1951) | Movie Review

As part of my list of fall favorites, today I am reviewing On Moonlight Bay.
I have watched this movie so many times, I can’t begin to count. There are at least four reasons why I like this one so much. The first two are the stars, Doris Day and Gordon MacRae. Doris Day has been my favorite actress for a long time. I have seen nearly all her movies, and many of them are ones I grew up watching. I love the way she acts and I love her voice. As a young teen it was my aspiration to sing like her, and I have heard people say that I sounded like her, which is truly a compliment. Gordon MacRae on the other hand –Whew! Talk about good lookin’. I’ve said, he can sing to me any day. My absolute favorite movie of his though, would have to be The Desert Song, as illogical as the story may be. He makes a good hero.
The other two reasons why I like this one so much is the story and all around homey feel. I love a good “In the life of..” story and this one plays out in a beautiful middle-to-upper class neighborhood in the early 1900’s. Others like it, in my opinion, would be its sequel, By the Light of the Silvery Moon, and Meet Me in St. Louis
This is one of a handful of movies the two made together, and in this one, they both act like a couple of impressionable teens. It is hilarious what a goof MacRae is with his radical theories and beliefs, and then Day comes along and believes every word of it, just because he said it. Silly, but too cute.
Day and MacRae are not the only highlights of this film. Billy Gray plays Wesley, the Winfields trouble-making boy, who is hilarious in his wild antics and tall tales. Despite his spoiled attitude, I like how well he and Margie get along.
In this post I am going to give a quick bio and then talk about a few little things like costume and decor. I hope you are as excited as I am!


On Moonlight Bay is about the lives of an average family during the mid-1910’s. The Winfields have just moved to a new neighborhood but the only one who is very pleased about it is Mr. Winfield, whose intentions, among other things, is to expose his tomboyish daughter, Margie, to more grown-up company. Margie’s only interest is in playing a good game of baseball, that is, until she meets the boy-next-door, William Sherman. Bill is a senior in college and full of impressionable and radical ideas about the way the country should be run. At first, Mr. and Mrs. Winfield are pleased with Bill, but when one of his radical ideas offend Mr. Winfield, the vice-president of the First National Bank, Margie’s father tries to interest her in Hubert Wakeley, her brother’s stuffy piano teacher. But Margie loves Bill and believes what he says, including his theory that marriage is a enslaving institution. Meanwhile, Margie’s little brother, Wesley never ceases to reek havoc. In an attempt to get himself out of trouble with his teacher, he tells a fantastic story about how his father had been drinking and beating his mother and sister. When Bill comes home to take Margie to the school dance, Wesley’s teacher informs him of the terrible news. Bill bursts in and once again makes a fool of himself. Fortunately, the family realizes what Wesley did and Mr. Winfield accepts Bill once again.

On graduation day, Bill announces that he and half his class have joined the army but Mr. Winfield, upon hearing of Bill’s stance on marriage, forbids Margie to see him again. Margie runs away to be with Bill, and just when he proposes, her father finds her and takes her home. Weeks later, Bill comes home on leave before being sent out overseas where the war is going on.  (Spoilers) Margie is once again prepared to leave with him but Bill sensibly tells her that he will be gone a while and she will have to live with her parents for that time. They part in tears, and Mrs. Winfield finally decides to straighten her husband out. After a few reminders of times past, Mr. Winfield has a change of heart and gives his approval for Margie and Bill to continue their relationship.
Doesn’t it sound like a great movie? The musical numbers are beautiful, and there is just the right blend of comedy and drama. I really can’t say anything bad about it.
Now let’s look at costumes.

In this somber moment, Margie wears a lovely muted blue outfit that, coincidentally, matches the blue ribbon on the beloved Kewpie doll. The blouse is patterned in light blue and dark blue while the calf-length skirt is solid blue.

Her hairstyle in the whole movie is pretty much variations of the same: pulled back and secured with a bow, with barrettes on either side of the head. Her bangs are short and curled under.

I love how often they put her in plaids. This lovely green and red plaid jumper is paired with a light yellow blouse and red heels. Her hat matches her dress and sits back on her head to compliment her hairstyle.

Wesley’s outfit is signature of the time, with his high socks, short breeches, brown suit coat and newsboys hat. A great outfit for boys.

Here is another plaid that is perfect for winter. Even though I do not like red personally, I think red is the perfect color for wearing in the winter, especially in the snow. Also, I just love her tam-o-shanter.

Wesley looks adorable with his hair so neatly combed and wearing a tie and green cardigan.

Rosemary DeCamp plays Mrs. Winfield and I like how she does it. Her husband is a strong, controlling man but she is no doormat. She is respectful and lets him lead, without squelching her own personality and occasional difference of opinion. Only when she feels he is being to harsh toward Margie and Bill does she say something, and when she does, it’s to remind him that he was young once too.

By the way, don’t you just love the dainty embroidery on her blouse and her pearl drop earrings?

I love the soft springy colors and materials the designers used for Margie’s clothing. The yellow dress she wears at his graduation and this one both look soft and feminine. And doesn’t he look dashing in his olive drab uniform.

And that concludes this post. What are you thoughts? Have you seen this movie before? Leave me a comment!

I will be reviewing the sequel soon, By the Light of the Silvery Moon. In the meantime, have you checked out my list of fall movies?

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