• Golden Globe Awards

1953: A Year for Song and Dance

The year 1952 was a banner one for musicals, and the 10th Annual Golden Globes, held on February 26, 1953, at the Ambassador Hotel, celebrated five of the best as nominees for Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical.
The Golden Globe winner, director Walter Lang’s With a Song in My Heart, is a biographical musical based on the life of singer Jane Froman, who suffered massive injuries in an airplane crash on her way to a USO tour during World War II. She is played by Susan Hayward, who lip-synched all the songs to Froman’s voice. While the story is a somewhat sanitized version of Froman’s life, omitting her struggle with painkillers, messy divorce, and remarriage, it was a big box office success, additionally winning Hayward a Golden Globe.
Hans Christian Andersen is another musical biography, based on the life of the famous 19th-century Danish author. Directed by Charles Vidor, the film describes itself as “not the story of his life, but a fairy tale about this great spinner of fairy tales,” with Danny Kaye portraying the title character, a small village cobbler with a mission to spread joy to children with his imaginative stories.

Directed by Michael Curtiz, I’ll See You in My Dreams is the life story of lyricist Gus Kahn. The film stars Danny Thomas in the title role and costars Doris Day as his wife Grace. Day, a huge star at the time, got top billing, and the movie is told from her character’s point-of-view — chronicling the pair’s life together as Kahn soars to heights of fame and fortune, before losing it all in the 1929 stock market crash. Grace then helps him to get back on his feet after he leaves their family to seek his fortune in Hollywood.
Yet another biographical film, Stars and Stripes Forever tells the story of composer John Philip Sousa, adapted from his autobiography Marching Along. The title of the movie, directed by Henry Koster and starring Clifton Webb, is taken from its subject’s famous military march. Frustrated with his job as leader of the United States Marine Band for 12 years, Sousa decides to form his own group and go on tour. The start of the Spanish-American War upends his plans, though, leading Sousa to decide to reenlist in the Marines.
The only nominee not based on the life story of a real person, Singin’ in the Rain was just a modest hit when it was released, but is today one of the most beloved musicals of all time. Starring Gene Kelly, Debbie Reynolds, and Donald O’Connor (who won the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy), it is directed and choreographed by Kelly and Stanley Donen, and tells the story of three actors in the 1920s transitioning from silent films to talkies. In 1989, the movie was one of the first 25 selected by the United States Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry.