Synopsis by Hal Erickson
The Merry Monahans is one of the higher-budgeted Universal musicals of the 1940s, even though the storyline is strictly grade-B material. During the first two decades of the 20th century the film concerns a family vaudeville troupe headed by patriarch Pete Monahan (Jack Oakie). Because of his love affair with the bottle, Pete manages to get himself and his family blacklisted from every major vaude house in the country. Though Pete's kids Jimmy (Donald O'Connor) and Patsy (Peggy Ryan) love their dad, they're forced to break away from the act and go off on their own to survive. Eventually, the whole gang is reunited in a shamelessly lachrymose musical finale. Producer-scripters Michael Fessier and Ernest Pagano, whose other works include such offbeat comedies as San Diego I Love You, Frontier Gal and That's the Spirit, manage to keep the proceedings relatively cliché-free, though it's an uphill climb. The film's best moments include a series of celebrity impressions performed by Donald O'Connor and Peggy Ryan, and a handful of songs rendered by promising newcomer Ann Blyth. Some curious coincidences: The plot of Merry Monahans bears a startling resemblance to the early career of comedian Buster Keaton; Keaton was featured in three of Fessier and Pagano's Universal productions of the 1940s; and Donald O'Connor and Ann Blyth later starred in Paramount's The Buster Keaton Story!
music, backstage, behind-the-scenes, dance [art], daughter, family, love, old-flame, performer, romance, show, show-business, songwriter, stage, vaudeville