Conceited singer Gary Mitchell (Lee Bowman) refuses to renew his radio contract, so agent Doug Blake (Jack Carson) tries to find a new star to replace him. In New York he discovers Martha Gibson (Doris Day), a single mom with sparkling personality and an amazing voice. With the help of his long-suffering assistant Vivian Martin (Eve Arden), Doug moves Martha to Hollywood but struggles to convince stuffy fuddy-duddy sponsor Felix Hofer (S.Z. Sakall) to take a chance on the perky newcomer. As Martha endures hardship and humiliation in a long and at times seemingly hopeless quest for stardom, Doug finds himself falling in love which makes things that more painful when she loses her heart to Gary Mitchell.
Anyone with an ounce of sense will likely question Mr. Hofer's sanity given Doris Day's bouncy audition piece is one of the most energetic, engaging and innocently sexy musical performances in cinema. But hey, you can take the old geezer out of Vienna, but you can't take Vienna out of the old geezer. Turns out Hofer prefers a Strauss waltz to a boogie-woogie beat. In many ways the plot of My Dream Is Yours mirrored the life of its star, which was likely intentional on the part of Warner Brothers although sadly Doris proved considerably less lucky with the men in her real life. Nevertheless while real audiences embraced Doris Day as warmly as their fictional counterparts (come on, you can't seriously consider that a spoiler for a Doris Day movie?), the film has a little more on its mind than simply promoting a major star.
Having done their part for the war effort by making Casablanca (1942), where romance aside the central thrust is convincing Rick (Humphrey Bogart) to stick his isolationist neck out to save European lives, Warner Brothers and director Michael Curtiz here urge hero Doug Blake to embrace family life with war widow Martha as part of the post-war push for peace and prosperity. In fact musicals played a big part in promoting togetherness, healing and a return to normalcy. My Dream Is Yours goes a step further by implying one can have their cake and eat it, intertwining stardom with domestic bliss, a happy home life with showbiz success for the good of America. Opening with a god's eye view of the California shore as a parodically pompous narrator expounds at length about the "Great American Empire", the film segues hilariously into scenes of bobby-soxers swooning over radio crooners staking showbiz as the next frontier for America's bold pioneers. As such the script draws Felix Hofer as your classic immigrant turned entrepreneur looking to make good and Doug Blake as an old fashioned prospector. Which makes Martha the gold mine.
Full of witty one-liners and a bracingly sober attitude to show business as Martha takes some hard knocks along the long road to success, yet tempered by the irresistible can-do optimism embodied by Doris Day, My Dream Is Yours proves you can do feel good without being sentimental. No doubt drawing on real life experience, Day shares strong chemistry with the child actor playing her son bringing emotional weight to their scenes together. Naturally, the songs are wonderful. Composer Harry Warren returned to the Warner Brothers studio, where he wrote so much lasting movie music in the Thirties, to pen some more memorable songs that topped the charts bathed in Doris Day's honey-toned vocals. In her autobiography Day singled Jack Carson out for praise as one of her fondest co-stars. Carson gives an incredibly affable performance. His non-stop cajoling and rapid patter trying to convince Mr. Hofer to take a chance on Martha provide several comedic high points while his hesitant attempts to woo her away from smooth-talking Gary Mitchell prove unexpectedly moving.
Interestingly Martha's thwarted romance with Gary, an abusive alcoholic on his way down the showbiz ladder just as she rises to super-stardom, echoes A Star is Born which was of course remade in 1954 with Judy Garland and co-stars Jack Carson as a publicist. Pleasingly, Martha proves no wide-eyed ingenue but a smart, savvy girl who despite her share of heartbreak can take care of herself and eventually discerns the right path to happiness. And then there is the legendary animated dream sequence where Doris Day and Jack Carson, in rabbit outfits, perform an Easter-themed musical number to the tune of Franz Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 (a favourite of animator Friz Freleng) with none other than Bugs Bunny! Not to be outdone by Louis B. Mayer at MGM, Jack Warner cast a couple of his cartoon stars (Tweety Pie also makes a brief appearance uttering his signature line) much the same as Jerry Mouse danced with Gene Kelly in Anchors Aweigh (1945). It is a tad contrived and on a technical level compares poorly with Disney's seamless fusion of live action with animation but for cartoon fans is all but irresistible. As a child this sequence all but convinced me Bugs Bunny was real. Hey, he sang and danced with Doris Day, didn't he?