review for I'll See You in My Dreams on AllMovie

I'll See You in My Dreams (1951)
by Craig Butler review

I'll See You in My Dreams is arguably the best songwriter biopic Hollywood created during the heyday of this genre. Not that the film is necessarily any more faithful to the facts than most other such entries; it's just that as drama it is much more satisfying. Key to the film's success is its emphasis on creating characters rather than caricatures (or worse, figureheads). Gus and Grace Kahn may not be as indelibly drawn as Blanche DuBois or Hamlet, but they are distinctive, living and breathing people, with charms, quirks, follies and foibles about which the audience can care. Also of note is the creators' decision to avoid overproduced musical numbers and focus on more intimate presentations, in keeping with the films overall small scale feel. There are some problems, of course -- Gus Kahn was a good lyricist, but not the "A" level talent with concomitant artistic aspirations presented here, and the character's claims toward elevated artistry are belied by the songs contained in the film. The last quarter of the film also takes an unfortunate turn into melodrama. However, on the whole Michael Curtiz does an admirable job keeping the tone unobtrusively sentimental, and Doris Day and Danny Thomas have an odd, appealing chemistry together. Day sounds very good, especially on "The One I Love." Four years later, Kahn's "Love Me or Leave Me" would be the title tune of one of Day's best pictures.